West Village Cafe creates a community

Tucked into a shopping complex in Surrey, the recently opened West Village Cafe is an urban oasis in a suburban sea of chain store conformity. Even as you enter the bright, contemporary, cafe you are aware that you’re in for something good.

Arriving on a Sunday morning, West Village Cafe was bustling and alive with groups of friends and families socializing, studying and sipping a great smoothie, or coffee while digging into their brunch or lunch dishes.  Owners Paul and Jas, and their staff greet guests with friendly and fast service, creating a comfortable, welcoming room. Even though almost everything is housemade the small kitchen turns out food in a rapid pace, comparable to the fast food restaurant.  Paul, Jas and Chef Tim Cuff have created a menu which offers a diverse selection of Breakfast/Brunch, Salads, Soups, Sandwiches, and their speciality Rice Bowls, along with Grab-n-Go baked goods and drinks.  Ingredients have been carefully selected from local sources and the freshness is reflected in the taste.

My meal of the Turmeric, Cous Cous & Grapefruit Salad, with one of best classic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches was comforting and fresh. The AntiOxidant Smoothie and Chocolate & Peanut Butter Energy Seed Bar were a tasty, healthy combo to take on the road back to Vancouver.   West Village Cafe may be out in Surrey, (we wish it there was one near our Yaletown neighbourhood) it’s definitely now on our list of places to visit on a day out and a place to meet with friends in the area. 

West Village Cafe is located at #160 – 5620 152nd Street, Surrey BC
Visit westvillagecafe.ca to check out the menu and more information then make a visit in person.

Brunch at Morocco West

Located just off Robson Street, on Jervis Street, in Vancouver’s West End, Morocco West takes patrons’ taste buds on a trip.

While any meal is great at the small bistro, brunch is a brilliant combination of exotic flavours and comfortable plates. Benedict, omelette, scrambled eggs, flatbread all sound familiar but Chef Nourdine Majdoubi adds his own unique flavour and flair to elevate the dishes to achieve Morocco West’s standards.

Photo 2014-10-05, 12 33 46On our recent visit, a nice sunny autumn morning invited us to take advantage of Morocco West’s streetside patio for brunch.  After much deliberation and a recommendation from our friendly server, I decided to try Chef’s Signature Moroccan Benedict; free-range eggs, merguez sausage, hummus, paprika hollandaise. The dish is usually served with breakfast potatoes but I requested to change to their very flavourful Truffle Parmesan Fries.  Billy chose Moroccan Omelette; free-range eggs, mushrooms, cheddar cheese served with potatoes.MoroccoWest_omelette

Both dishes were perfectly satisfying for Sunday brunch as well as nicely prepared and presented.  The benedict’s poaches eggs were cooked just as I’d requested, with just enough yoke to dip the truffle fries into and mix with the paprika hollandaise. The omelette was soft but firmly cooked and the ample mushrooms with melted cheddar made the vegetarian dish plenty satisfying for the heartiest meat-eater.

A sunny day helps, but not required to enjoy a flavourful brunch at Morocco West.
Check it out for yourself at 795 Jervis Street. Phone: 604.563.8466
Follow them on Twitter @MoroccoWest and Instagram @MoroccoWestVancouver

Exile on Bute Street

Photo 2014-05-24, 12 51 00Located on the 1200 block of Bute Street (at the rainbow crosswalk) in Vancouver’s Davie Village, Exile Bistro is a great new addition to the West End dining scene. The small 25 seat bistro and cocktail bar prides itself on using ethically grown, locally sourced or foraged ingredients that are as organic as possible.  While there are many vegan or gluten-free options on the menu, Exile doesn’t forget the meat eaters with BC Bison, Trout and Boar as options.

I recently visited for brunch with my friend Michael (@vegandall) choosing to sit outside on a nice spring day, the fresh air balancing the fresh ingredients.  I choose the gluten-free breakfast biscuit benny; a pair of nicely poached eggs with wild kale and mushrooms, sitting atop a flakey rusk-style, gluten-free biscuit with a yoghurt based hollandaise sauce.  A nice balance between the flakey biscuit and the egg yolks and hollandaise.  Michael opted for the Farinata, an eggless omelette alternative made with chickpea flour, topped with mushrooms, shallots, and juniper aioli (cheese can be added if you don’t want to keep it vegan). The Farinata was more of a flatbread or frittata style than a classic folded omelette but all the flavours worked to create a satisfying breakfast.  A side of multi-coloured potatoes sauteed in olive-oil added a simple addition to round out the brunch.

 

 

A return visit is in order to try dinner and cocktails, with a patio still to be built along on the quiet block of Bute Street, a summer evening of al fresco dining will be perfect.

Exhile Bistro is located at 1220 Bute Street, Vancouver. Hours: Monday to Sunday 5pm – late, Saturday & Sunday Brunch 9am-2:30pm  Phone: 604.563.8633 Facebook.com/exhilevancouver

 

Dine Out 2014 – Bistro Sakana

The 2014 edition of Dine Out Vancouver Festival is well underway with the first weekend seeing restaurants and events filled with Festival goers.  This year I start the Festival off with Billy (@billyforce) and Mary (@maryinvancity) at Bistro Sakana, in Yaletown. I’d only ever been for lunch and know it’s a great spot for quality sushi. Happily it is a participant in Dine Out and from the constant stream of patrons coming in and out of the doors it was a popular inclusion.  This was Billy & Mary’s first visit and none of us were disappointed.

Bistro Sakana-18 50 23 Executive Chef Etsuko has carefully chosen a selection of menu items to highlight Bistro Sakana’s fine blend of Japanese, Italian and French style cuisine.  Everything on the menu stimulates all the senses, the plates are presented beautifully to stimulate the eye, the flavours stimulate the palate with many layers of flavour, and scents to stimulate your sense of smell.
The $38 three course menu starts with Wild Sockeye Salmon Miso Chowder – a hearty, but light broth with a hint of miso and cream topped off with chunks of Sockeye.

 
Bistro Sakana-19 18 30The beautifully plated main included five tastes; Wild Sockeye Jalapeno Aburi & Toro Red Chili Aburi Hakozushi – fresh, perfectly torched, bite full of flavour, Caprese Roll – like its namesake salad, tomato, bocconcini & pesto with scallop sashimi accented with balsamic reduction, Crunchy Filo Scallop & Prawn – light & crispy, filo wrapped prawn and scallop with miso hollandaise sauce, Ahi Tuna Tartare – ahi tuna, fresh house-made guacamole, mango & yuki sauce served with a crispy nori slice to wrap it in.  We also added on their unique Caterpillar Roll – crab, smoked salmon, cucumber with brown rice wrapped in fresh, creamy avocado.

Bistro Sakana- 20 17 44During the meal we sipped on their signature cocktails; Geisha Girl – pineapple juice, blackberry liquer & vodka and The Salty Samurai – grapefruit juice, ginger, & vodka.  The meal was then topped off with Oka San’s Rich Chocolate Brownies – bites of warm dark chocolate brownies served with chocolate sauce and vanilla bean gelato, a great treat to wrap up an excellent meal. And a great way to start of 2014 Dine Out Vancouver Festival.

 

 

Bistro Sakana is located at 1123 Mainland Street, in Yaletown.
Open for lunch weekdays and dinner Monday – Saturday, closed Sundays & Holidays.
For reservations phone 604.633.1280 or email bistrosakana@shaw.ca
Follow @BistroSakana on Twitter or Facebook

 

The Fort Wine Company

Fort Wine Co

Surrounded by fields of farmland, The Fort Wine Company is a leading light in Langley’s diverse agricultural landscape.  Cranberries are one of the oldest crops in Fort Langley and The Fort Wine Company made use of their abundance to create a secondary business from their land, cranberry wine. The wine business began as a way to prevent wasting excess cranberry crops, 11 years later The Fort Wine Company is renowned as a leader in the fruit wine market.

Cranberry Fields

After gaining the experience of producing cranberry wine, the winery expanded into other local berries and fruit wines, now producing 11 varieties of fruit wine. Nowadays, much of their cranberry bogs are used for wine and some for fruit, reversing the original production.

On a recent visit with Tourism Langley, The Fort Wine Company allowed us to sample a few of their wines that are perfect for the upcoming Holiday season.

 

Mighty FraserMighty Fraser is the winery’s original wine, it has a blush colour and tart taste, and is the perfect wine to accompany the holiday turkey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keremeos Fruit StandKeremeos Fruit Stand has the taste of fall, made from a crisp blend of apples and pears its taste brings to mind the autumn harvest. A glass alongside a sharp cheddar or with your pork roast would be a great pair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isle Queen Blackberry WineIsle Queen Blackberry dessert wine is a hearty and warm port-style glass that has a hint of oak and like a warm cup of cocoa would be great on a cold winter’s evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fort Wine Company retail shop, bistro and winery tours are located at 26151 – 84th Avenue, Langley BC Phone: 604.857.1101 to book tours or reservations.  The bistro and retail shop are also available for event rentals.

Dessert Wines

Fruit Wines

 

Kingyo Japanese Izakaya

 

Cha-Shu Rice Paper Wrap

Kingyo Japanese Izakaya on Denman street has won many accolades in its short five year existence, including “Best Casual Japanese” Gold 4 years running at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, slipping to Silver for the first time in 2011.
One visit to Kingyo certainly isn’t enough to get the full depth of the menu of small and shared plates, but it’s definitely enough to make you want to return for more.
Begin with a starter or salad, like the light but full-flavoured ‘Cha-Shu Rice Paper Roll’ – roasted pork, lettuce and cucumber wrapped in a rice paper on a thin sweet peppery mayo sauce.

Follow with small plates or share something from the seafood, meat, sashimi, sushi menus maybe adding on a rice or noodle dish.

Kakuni Bibimbap

We choose ‘Stone-grilled “Kakuni Bibimbap”‘ slow coked pork belly and Korean pickles on a bed of ‘Koshihikiri’ Rice served in a sizzling stone bowl.  The intriguingly named ‘Our Famous Invincible and Undefeated Tan-Tan Noodle‘ made it a must try, the cashew pork and shrimp noodle broth had just the right amount of spicy flavour with0ut overpowering the sesame miso.

Our Famous Invincible and Undefeated Tan-Tan Noodle

With so many options on the menu, a return visit or more is certainly in the cards. The daily specials, friendly staff and invitingly casual modern room make Kingyo a place to turn into a regular hang out.

Tableau Bar Bistro

Located within the luxurious Loden Hotel, Tableau Bar Bistro is Coal Harbour’s neighbourhood restaurant. Chef Marc-Andre Choquette has created a play on the traditional French Bistro for the West Coast. Using old world technique with new world local ingredients the Chef and his team have made a comforting and welcoming room. Judging from the number of familiar greetings the patrons and staff exchanged on my visit, Tableau has its share of regulars.

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 This visit on a Thursday evening saw the restaurant almost fully booked, groups of friends, families and couples in casual to after work business attire all seemed equally at home. Our attentive server greeted us warmly and soon brought our first drink, a non-alcoholic Ceylon Orange Fizz, Ceylon tea, orange juice, agave nectar and club soda. Starter for both my companion and I was soup, the daily special – Cream of Mushroom for me, was a thick and rich mushroom broth with many meaty chunks of fresh mushrooms. My friend’s French Onion soup was a light onion filled broth topped with thick croutons and cheese baked to perfection.20111216-001636.jpg
Each day of the week offers a different daily special, Thursday’s Lamb Shank and Risotto looked like a popular choice from the number of dishes on tables around. It looked too good to pass up and happily it lived up to the anticipation. A large shank of braised lamb was served upon a bed of bright and creamy carrot risotto. The fall-off-the-bone meat didn’t require a knife as the fork shredded it easily. 20111216-001651.jpgI had to slow down and take my time to savour it as it went down so easily. The thick and creamy risotto had just the right texture and bite, the al dente carrots adding a lightness and crunch to contrast with the moist and soft lamb. With a glass of wine from the lengthy wine list, the two ample courses meant there was no room for a third but from what we could see on tables nearby, desserts looked equally tasty as our soup and entree. I guess that means another visit is in order to sample more of the menu…I’m looking forward to it.