Vancouver: Day 03 (End)

November 19, 2013

Woke up to… clear blue skies, yay!

My sister had class this morning so she headed off with her housemate (Erin) after breakfast. Mike and I finished packing before heading out in order to make our lives easier.

We were pretty excited, with such a beautiful day, we were definitely heading back to Stanley Park and renting bikes!

And so we did! Thank you to Erin who lent us mittens and hats as well! They kept us warm during our excursion 🙂

We rented our bikes from Ezee Riders at $5/hour and went to check out the park… many photos!

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Got to see the Totem poles 🙂

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Such a gorgeous day!

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We finally saw the mountains!

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Feel proud guys. This was my third time on a bike in public and boy was it an achievement. I didn’t fall or drive off any roads or into any people or inanimate objects… like the last time I biked. 😛

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Sadly, the time passed more quickly than we expected and soon we had to return our bikes and start heading back.

Ramen House 大街小廚 on Urbanspoon

We decided to stop for Japanese ramen, but due to our eagerness, we walked into a place on Broadway called Ramen House. They were a Chinese restaurant… that didn’t have a Japanese ramen menu…

We felt bad getting up to leave after already being served tea so decided to stay and check them out anyway. There were a lot of items on the menu so we took longer than usual to make up our minds. The poor owner, felt bad for us and said he would not be offended if we wished to leave to get Japanese ramen instead. But no worries! We decided two mains and two dim sums to share.

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Calamari was tender and not greasy, very nice!

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At the owner’s suggestion, I got Tan Tan Noodles, which were delicious! I’ve never tasted anything like this, so can’t really explain, I remember it being savoury but sour, and very garlicky. The noodles were nicely done as well.

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Mike got Hot and Sour Soup with Dumplings – I haven’t had this soup in a long time and found it to be quite nice. Never tastes as good as the one my mom makes but I was pleasantly surprised, could do with more veggies and tofu though!

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We had such amazing Fried Red Bean Pancake at Swee Choon in Singapore that we ordered it here as well, hoping for another delicious treat. Unfortunately, the pancake was not evenly crispy and quite greasy. A disappointment but the filling was actually quite nice!

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After lunch, we headed back to my sister’s place to pick up our luggage and find our way to the airport! Took the bus and the skytrain without any problems and were soon checked in and enjoying some Starbucks at our boarding gate for our flight at 4:20pm.

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And that… is the end of our Vancouver visit! Pretty short and sad because of the weather but I’m so glad we ended it with beautiful weather!

Looking forward to being home!

50% off @ The Greek Club

We had the opportunity to dine at The Greek Club – Odyssey Taverna + Bar for 50% off – thanks to Urbanspoon’s Weekly Flash Specials! I received the promo email because I’m an Urbanspoon member, but these deals are open for everyone! 🙂

Our dinner reservation was for March 04 at 5:30pm. We were initially a little confused when we arrived because it was completely empty but turned out we were just the first guests to arrive. The Greek Club has a nice outdoor seating area with a view of the kitchen and out to the park. Since it was a rainy evening, we opted to sit indoors and check out the restaurant ambiance.

Our server, Vincent, was friendly and prompt with his service. He advised us which options were not available that night as he gave us the menus, which we appreciated. He also confirmed that our 50% off special was applicable to any food item on the menu (drinks are regular priced), which was great because we were expecting to only be able to choose from a selected number of choices.

We started off with a glass of Greek wine each. Rose for me and a red for Mike. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the brands we chose and they don’t have their drinks list online.

Without much hesitation, we decided on the Greek Delight platter for two (reg price $35/person). Delightful indeed, it included a selection of: grilled haloumi cheese, calamari, dolmades, chicken souvlakia, lamb cutlets, spanakopita, pita bread & dips, and Greek salad. Vincent explained that the pita bread and dips would come out first, followed by the salad and everything else on a large platter.

Warm, thick, chewy pita bread – delicious! Loved that I could taste the fact that it was heated over a charcoal grill. The homemade three dips were (left to right) eggplant, taramosalata (made with fish roe) and tzatziki sauce (yogurt & cucumber) – all of which were tasty!

By now there were other patrons in the restaurant and 2 more servers looking after the diners. We noticed that the servers would check up on us from afar to see how far along we were with the pita bread and dips to alert the cook to start on our platter.

We were not disappointed. The platter was piping hot when it came out. And huge, there was so much food!

  • The lamb cutlet was cooked beautifully – so nice and tender.
  • I always love grilled Haloumi, but I especially loved the fact that this was not intensely salty like I’ve had at other restaurants.

  • The calamari (I think was actually baby squid) was the best I’ve had in Brisbane, really! The batter was nice and crisp (not overly greasy or salty) and the squid soft and tender. Yum!
  • Chicken souvlakia was well seasoned and perfectly grilled – so moist!

  • Dolmades – warm, very flavourful filling!
  • The salad was very fresh but underdressed for my tastes. However, the feta cheese was nicely seasoned and the kalamata olives were delicious!

As much as we tried, we couldn’t finish the platter AND have any sort of room for dessert. So we decided to have some of platter packed to take home in order to try some of their desserts.

I chose Baklava…

And Mike chose Poura (phyllo pastry filled with almonds and honey) and a side of icecream (only $0.50 extra! Haha).

Although the desserts were good, I did not think they were great. I have had the pleasure of eating lots of delicious Baklava in the past, and this one just didn’t measure up.

By dessert, we agreed that plating and presentation at this restaurant was not that great – but overall, the food most definitely was.

Two glasses of wine, the Greek Delight platter for 2, and 2 desserts cost us a total of $55. 🙂 Considering the platter is normally $35/person, what an awesome deal!

A really great evening with amazing food (we left so stuffed that our lungs couldn’t fully expand when we breathed) and wonderful service. The menu is also quite reasonably priced and I would definitely recommend coming back with friends. Apparently, they also have live entertainment during the weekends, so we’ll have to come back then! 🙂

         

Odyssey Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Cicada with a doll!

A doll with big beautiful blue eyes! 😉

A final get together with Kristen on Nov 15 at Cicada before heading back to Canada!

Mike and I had passed by this place since last year with the intention of trying it out so I was glad we finally did it, and with good company too!

We went on a Thursday around lunch – super busy! Even so, we were promptly shown to our seats and service was quick and very attentive. I did not expect to be checked on so many times, so that was nice! The seating and decor both inside and outdoors were varied but lovely – catering to all sizes of groups, whether for meals or just to have drinks.

We ended up getting drinks and sharing a plate of calamari, salt & szechuan pepper, soft leaves, cucumber, cherry tomato, vietnamese dressing and 2 servings of shoestring fries with aioli sauce. The calamari was nicely cooked (although so little!) and the salad was fresh with a nice light dressing. Is it a vietnamese dressing though? Well… I’ve never had such a dressing in my life. 😉 but still tasty!

Prices were within the range we were expecting – $18.50 for the calamari dish. Would we come back? Yes, but probably only if we were in the area!

Cicada on Urbanspoon

Review: L’Academie Hotel (A well needed and deserved break!)

L’Academie Hotel is a training restaurant located in Spring Hill, Brisbane. L’Academie provides students of the Shafston School of Hospitality the opportunity to work in a live service kitchen and on the restaurant floor, putting into practice the skills that they have acquired in theory classes.

A couple of months ago, I bought a Scoopon for this restaurant and only used it this past Saturday. 3 course meal for 2 people and a bottle of wine for $50. $25 dollars each for some good fine dining, who can resist? After days and days of studying, it was just great to relax for an evening.

The restaurant is nicely decorated and inviting. This is from the dining area looking out towards the front door. Food being put out from the kitchen on the right, bar on the left.

The dining area. The paintings work well for the restaurant although I can’t imagine having them in my home!

Even the chandelier matched the colour scheme

We were seated immediately and a waitress came to give us menus and take our orders.

Our table – a good size for 2. That bread. The both of us had to wonder how long had it been sitting there… completely dried out, hard and brittle. We could barely cut into it without making a mess everywhere. The butter had also been left out for too long and had the consistency of mousse.

L’Academie was definitely not giving us a very good first impression. But rather than start out the evening complaining and asking for replacements, we decided to see what else the restaurant had to offer.

The entrees came out shortly.

I ordered the special – don’t remember the exact name but it came with breaded calamari and a salad. Delicious! Calamari was perfectly cooked and just the right amount of accompanying salad and sauce.

What was not pretty to see, however, was oxidized lettuce. It’s entirely natural but should never appear on a plate served in a restaurant. I wouldn’t even want it seen in anything I would serve my family, just unappetizing. Would’ve taken only an extra second to rip it off, so more care needed!

Mike ordered the Marinated Sweet Chilli Scallop & Tiger Prawn Salad with Fresh Rocket & Ginger Dressing. A seafood fan, he claimed it was fantastic. “Simply good.”

We were able to choose a bottle of wine between Tyrrell’s merlot or chardonnay, we chose chardonnay. Good wine, although not nearly worth the quoted price of $80 on our Scoopon. This bottle can be bought in the range of $15-20.

Our dishes were cleared within a few minutes of finishing but it was never intrusive. Staff was really great the entire time.

Our mains arrived in only a few minutes.

I ordered the Tasmanian Rosemary Lamb Rump on Sweet Potato Mash with Tomato, Bulgarian Fetta & Mint Salsa. Yummy! The lamb was so nicely seasoned and it was my first time trying the lamb and mint combination – was definitely not disappointed. Gravy was also amazing! The serving of sweet potato was massive but definitely delicious.

Mike had the Cold Water Slipper Lobster with Brown Rice Pilaf, Braised Leek & Chive Beurre Blanc. It was the first time either of us had heard of the slipper lobster – it’s tiny! But in his words, “So succulent and satisfying.”

With such satisfying entrees and mains, we were really hoping dessert would take it home for us. Man, were we ever disappointed! We chose to share a chocolate brownie and gosh, even I can make better brownies… from instant mix!

The brownie was nice and chocolately, but unfortunately too hard and dry. 😦 L’Academie, please don’t plate your desserts ahead of time and have them refrigerated… that is so cafeteria! I’m sure the brownie would’ve tasted at least 3x better if it had even been slightly warmed up before serving. Such is the downfall of convenience!

One of the servers kindly took a picture for us. Even getting down on one knee and proclaiming, “I think I took a good one there!” (You be the judge ;))

Thank you L’Academie Hotel for a much needed good night.

We had a great time and overall good food. Would we come back again? Perhaps, if we can get a good deal like this time! Service was great… although we had at least 4 people serve us – would’ve preferred to be stuck with one person the entire time. We weren’t too happy about certain aspects of the food as mentioned above. And lastly, the atmosphere was a little too much like a family restaurant than fine dining (although we understand it’s a training restaurant). Some music to set the mood would be nice! And maybe a separate area for large (noisy) groups 😀

Score: 3.5/5

 
L'Acadamie on Urbanspoon