For lunch time participants, Taste of Yaletown is offering free trolley service between Yaletown and two major stops Bentall Center and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver which runs about every 20 minutes. For times and schedule, check out their list here.
Secondly, instead of sticking to the traditional 3-course meal at certain price points, this year the rules are a little relaxed with restaurants offering items off of their menu or specially created items that are not necessarily 3-courses (some are more, some are less).
During a media preview, I was invited to check out Hurricane Grill and New Oxford (please note that I was invited to this event and my meal was comp’d).
Scroll down past the review for my Top Picks for Taste of Yaletown!
Our hour started off with a quick trip down the Yaletown Farmers’ Market and a representative of every restaurant giving a bag filled with goodies (mine was filled with ingredients to start off a great cream of leek soup).
The Hurricane Grill’s menu is $25 per person and gives you a chance to try out one of their appys, mains and desserts.
We got to try a bit of all of them (note that these are ‘tasting’ sized), so here are my thoughts:
Autumn Squash Soup – this soup is made with oven roasted butternut squash, acorn squash and taro to a very nice, slightly sweet and satisfying fall soup. I love the inclusion of taro into this dish!
Another appetizer is the Quinoa Salad. This salad is made with peppers, red onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and cilantro tossed with warm quinoa in a balsamic vinaigrette topped with feta. I was also a fan of this dish, it would be tough for me to choose between the soup and this. The salad has nice crunch and a great, refreshing taste. I can see haters of cilantro not enjoying this dish – it’s not too overpowering but there is more than just a hint of this delicious herb. The quinoa gives the plate depth.
The Mains include the Bourbon Arctic Char, Cordon Blue and Veal Marsala.
The Bourbon Arctic Char is maple bourbon-glazed pan-seared Arctic Char served with wilted kale, cherry tomatoes and brown rice pilaf. I enjoyed this dish, the Arctic char was pan-seared nice and crispy on the outside and tender yet flaky on the inside. The glaze is flavourful without being too much on the outside and the wilted kale was an excellent addition to the dish. The brown rice pilaf gave this dish a little more weight, but I could’ve done without it as the fish itself is quite formidable on it’s own.
The Cordon Blue is Hurricane Grill’s take on a popular French dish – made with Dijon-glazed boneless half chicken, stuffed with Black Forest ham, Edam and spinach and served with roasted baby potatoes and vegetables. I liked this simplistic approach to the dish – often I find in other establishments that the ham and cheese within the chicken is far too over powering. Here at the Hurricane Grill though, it’s more complimentary to it’s tender chicken. The potatoes give depth to this dish while the vegetable choices (baby carrots and broccolini) are okay.
The last of the mains is the Veal Marsala. This veal cutlet is pan-fried with wild mushroom and a marsala demi-glaze. On the side, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and veggies. The veal is nice and tender and has great taste with the marsala demo-glaze. You can never go wrong with a bit of garlic mash – and they do it well here. Vegetables are typical (baby carrots and broccolini), I’d love to see them play with the texture of the vegetables or use different kinds of veggies with the dish.
Finally, we had dessert. Homemade Chocolate Mousse Cake. Wow. With a coconut crust, Mousse cake stuffed with profiteroles and topped with chocolate ganache and roasted almonds, this gigantic slice is definitely made for sharing (or for a chocolate fiend like myself!). The mousse cake is fluffy but dense and had an interesting twist with the profiteroles inside. This cake is heaven.
At the New Oxford we tried two new recent additions to their menu: the Spring Rolls and Shrimp Dumplings.
The Spring Rolls have quite the interesting take – starting off with your choice of vegetarian or pork (very similar to Filipino lumpia) but you don’t stop there – you wrap the deep fried spring rolls in lettuce and add hoisin and sriracha. The texture is crunchy and is brightened with the lettuce while the hoisin adds the sweetness and the sriracha packs the punch.
The Shrimp Dumplings are from Hon’s and served with a sweet chilli hot sauce. An interesting concept of having dim sum with booze during a late night bender.
I went through the menus of the 30 participating restaurants and these ones caught my eye. In no particular order:
1. Hurricane Grill
$25 – I was pleasantly surprised how diverse the menu was and the great offerings they have. Also the cake is delicious!
2. Cache Bistro
$38 – You can choose from their squash bisque, Marlin steaks and croquettes and the Apple Brioche crumble or try anything off their menu to combine for a three course meal. My suggestions? Their Deboned Fraser Valley Quail or Mok Ribs. For dessert: try their blue cheese cake or their s’more.
$15-25 Lunch / $45 Dinner – If you’re looking to try out Minami, this might be the best time to do so! You get a good sampler of their offerings – including their amazing oshi sushi.
4. Paulie’s Kitchen
$25 – I haven’t been to Paulie’s Kitchen but I might have to at this price point. Some menu items that piqued my interest? Fried Provolone cheese, homemade osso bucco and their olive oil gelato!
5. Yaletown L’Antipasto
$35 – What drew me in was the selection of different Italian dishes. The Ravioli all Filly (lobster and crab ravioli) and the Pappardelle Rosse (braised boneless short ribs, beef tenderloin, chicken and Italian sausage) sound amazing. Also very curious about their Lavender Creme Brûlée.
6. West Oak Restaurant
$35 -Another restaurant I have not been to yet, but with these interesting offerings will be on my list of to-eat shortly. Their truffle and cauliflower soup and the Sablefish drew me into this menu.
7. Good Wolfe Kitchen and Bar
$35 – I’ve heard so much good about this place and they have a great menu to choose from. The Braised Heritage Angus Beef Cheek or the Hot Smoked BC Salmon sounds fantastic.
$35 – Brix is such a nice little romantic spot in Yaletown. It’s most likely their exposed bricks, white table linen and candle light that makes it so appealing, but their food is just as appealing. Some stand out items from the menu: Soy Glazed Pork Saddle and the Angus Striploin served with chimchurri sauce and polenta.
For more information on the Taste of Yaletown 2013 event, check out their website here.
Please note that I was invited to try out Hurricane Grill and the New Oxford for a media preview. Any opinions are my own.