[Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014] Five Sails Restaurant - Ambiance is key

     With the Dine Out Vancouver Festival taking place right away the wave of Christmas shopping splurges, I knew that my wallet wouldn't be hurting from clothes anymore - it would be from food. As most know, the culinary scene in Vancouver is unlike any other. Having events like Dine Out Vancouver gives everyone the opportunity to be active in the diverse dining experience.
      After scrolling past restaurant after restaurant, it was decided that we would go here. Located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver Waterfront, Five Sails Restaurant provides a breathtaking view of the Vancouver Harbour. After staring out the window in awe, we were delightfully presented with complimentary starters. The bite sized portion of Lobster Salad with Grapefruit was almost instantly eaten by me after a series of photographs in the perfect lighting. "Perfect lighting" as in shifting the candle left and right, and left again. One thing I want to point out is the lettuce in the back did not please me. It wasn't the fresh crunchy bite I was looking for but nonetheless, I can't say no to complimentary.  

     For my appetizer I went with the Ahi Tuna Tartare. To my surprise, it wasn't screaming the usual "I need more, and I need it now." Perhaps it was the avocado, as an avid avocado muncher I do love my daily avocado meals. Fresh tuna along with the crispy wonton bits created a tasteful combination. The overall taste was well balanced, flavours and textures were clean and on point.

     Taking a moment to allow the ambiance to sink in. The restaurant was completely full but the atmosphere somehow allowed every table to feel as if they were in their own bubble. The overall mood makes you let go of everything and give you a moment to enjoy everything life has to offer. Truly relaxing.

     With our conversations aside, the entrees were presented to us. Tonight I decided not to go with the seafood but rather the Honey glazed roasted Fraser Valley Duck. Even though I took awhile to get the perfect shots, I could taste the perfection in each bite. Cooked to perfection, presented perfectly, and photographed perfectly. Dark roasted skins with soft pink interior, it was calling my name. Tender, moist, juicy, and just enough fat to add to the texture but not take away from the flavours.

     Seeing as it was such a good start to the night, I decided to add the Pan Seared Quebec Foie Gras onto my entree for an additional $10. At first I was hesitant but taking that first bite I knew all my possible regrets and worries were swept away. Beyond flavourful, the port wine sauce complimented the fat of the Foie Gras really well. The red kuru squash puree with potato gnocchi added to the heavenly plate by offering the heavier starch that was needed to balance out the dish. The caramelized mango threw me off at first. None of us were sure what fruit it was because the lime and Szechuan peppercorns masked the taste of the mango fruit we were so familiar with. It provided the refreshing kick to complete the entree. I must say, this dish was executed phenomenally. The squash and gnocchi made me satiated and not overwhelmingly crammed like some entrees can do. The duck and foie gras were prepared to perfection. Sauce and caramelized mango complemented the dish to provide that satisfying smile on my face. And let's not forget the view!  

     After the extremely satisfying entree, dessert had almost slipped my mind. The Banana Chocolate Tango was my pick to finish the night. A smooth chocolate ganache with banana infused vanilla mousse gave a delightful mix along with the homemade vanilla bean ice cream. It gave the hearty bite that I was looking for to complete my meal. I tasted very strong hints of vanilla bean that I absolutely love from the ice cream. It was a dessert well made that I was thankful for, not biting into something like classic cheesecake or creme brulee made my meal at Five Sails a memorable one.

I also had bites of the Luxe Lemon Mille-feuilles of which I was not too impressed with. The tart kick from the lemon cream was not was I was looking forward to. I did like the phyllo pastry but the sour taste from the lemon was not to my liking. I guess I did not like the association of the sour hints to the cake breaded layers. Fortunately, the waitress brought over chocolate ganache bits to cleanse our palettes. The richness from the dark chocolate wasn't too bitter or sweet, giving it a more neutral cleanse. 

To be given the opportunity to dine with a spectacular view is truly a gift. The atmosphere was so relaxing that I felt relieved from all the constant thoughts running around in my head. I recommend Five Sails to anyone that wishes to enjoy an extraordinary dinner with a divine view of what Vancouver has to offer. I would definitely say that this was one of the best dining experiences I have had so far. 
Ambiance is key.
Five Sails on Urbanspoon

Bring a Ben, Get a Benny | Complimentary Brunch from Grain Tasting Bar

"Why am I named Benton?" 
Well, that is something I will never ask myself ever again. A 19 year gap between birth and this day has been justified. BentonTheIncr.Edible has a purpose. This is my destiny.
Benton - a food blogger, it all makes sense now. Just look at one of the best marketing strategies I've come across:

"To celebrate the brunch menu at Grain featuring five kinds of Eggs Benedicts, Grain Tasting Bar is serving complimentary eggs benedict to all the Ben’s of Vancouver with their ‘Bring a Ben, Get a Benny’ promotion.
Starting at 11AM on Saturday February 1 until 4PM on Sunday March 2 join Grain Tasting Bar for brunch with a friend named Ben (Benjamin’s, Benedict’s, Benji’s, Benoit’s and other Ben variations welcome) and receive a complimentary eggs benedict.
Grain Tasting Bar’s menu was created by Chef Thomas Heinrich, who is also the executive chef of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. The menu is focused on highlighting fresh and local ingredients. Grain Tasting Bar also specializes in artisan cocktails, regional wines and craft beer. Drink recipes are creatively designed to highlight regional distilleries and fresh ingredients. Five draught handles feature the best in local breweries, while our wine program is VQA focused with selections ranging from established wineries to up-and-coming winemakers.
For reservations please call 604.639.4771. For more information about Grain Tasting Bar or the ‘Bring a Ben, Get a Benny’ Promotion, please contact Shakeira at 604.729.7274."
‘Bring a Ben, Get a Benny’ Promotion details:
Location: Grain Tasting Bar – 655 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2R7 (Hyatt Regency Hotel)
Start Date: 11am Saturday, February 1st
End Date: 4pm Sunday, March 2nd
  • Bring a Ben with you for brunch, get a benny on the house.
  • A minimum of one paying customer per table and a maximum of one Ben (or free benny) per table.
  • Only available during weekend brunch hours. No substitutions.
  • Cannot be combined with any other specials or offers.
  • Reservations are recommended.Any name starting with Ben should be jumping for joy reading this. I currently am while typing this.
Menu:
All served with breakfast potatoes

Grilled Chicken - barnston island spinach | avocado | diced tomato
Smoked Tomato Bruschetta - g.b.e. farms tomatoes | aged balsamic vinegar

Oyama - pamplona chorizo | red wine prosciutto | arugula 
Dungeness Crab - tomato | lemon | fresh herbs
Prime Rib - blue cheese | pickled onions | horseradish 

#BringABen

Follow me on social media: Instagram | Twitter @Bentonli

Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014 Menu Extensions

I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. I have a bunch of reviews to put out but I can't seem to find time to properly sit down and type for hours. I'm making a small exception this time away from my studies to give you an exciting update!

Selected restaurants that have participated in The Dine Out Vancouver Festival from Jan 17th-Feb 2nd are deciding to extend their menus! I only got the chance to go to two restaurants this year (Yes, I will review them before the next week) and now I can't wait to cross off a couple more restaurants off my list.

The selected restaurants have extended their menus until the following dates:




Click the restaurant name to see menu options

FEBRUARY 7th

Cardero's - $28
Sandbar Seafood - $28
Seasons in the Park - $28
The Teahouse - $28

FEBRUARY 9th
Black & Blue - $38
C Restaurant - $38
Coast - $38
Copper Chimney - $28
Glowbal Grill Steaks and Satay - $28
Hapa Izakaya - $18 & $28 menu available, dependent on location
Hart House - $38 (Went last year, no photos but I loved it!)
Italian Kitchen - $28
Society -$18
The Fish Shack - $18
The Granville Room - $18
Trattoria - $18

FEBRUARY 11th
Miku (Dinner only Sun-Tues | Lunch $28, Dinner $38, Vegetarian Dinner $38 Menus available)
Minami (Dinner only Sun-Tues | Lunch $28, Dinner $38 Menus available)

FEBRUARY 12TH
Bistro Pastis - $38

FEBRUARY 13TH
Cibo Trattoria - $28
Cloud 9 - $28
Edible Canada - $28
Graze - $28
Le Parisien - $28

FEBRUARY 28TH
Bitter Tasting Room - $18
Miku (Lunch $28 on weekends)
Minami (Lunch $28 everyday)
Salt Tasting Room - $28
TenTen Tapas - $28
Thai House - $18

All menus provided are for Dinner only, unless otherwise specified.

I have put the prices beside each restaurant as I know some are more price conscious (because I am). This festival brings out the countless restaurants we have in Metro Vancouver into the spotlight, so don't miss out because it's such a great deal! 
For the two I have visited, I am ecstatic over how my experience has been. I cannot tell you where I went just yet, so keep checking back. You can follow me on all social media platforms for the quickest updates.

Instagram | Twitter @Bentonli

Faubourg - Bite-sized Jewels

I am finally back from my hiatus of studies and work! Cannot believe it's been so long but I have been really busy with exams and transitioning into a new job and just the overall terrifying state that is life itself. My apologies but at least I'M BACK NOW! I finally have time to sit down and properly type type type away. I have not even touched my camera is what it seems like forever. So today I bring to you a box of goodies from Faubourg

This is the small sized assorted pastry box with 8 pieces of beautifully bite-sized portions of perfection.



I'm going to start with my favourite of the bunch, which would be the Coffee Opera. Topped with the Faubourg logo printed chocolate piece, it is made with a almond sponge cake soaked in a coffee syrup, layered with a dark chocolate ganache and coffee butter cream finished with a chocolate glaze. Doesn't that description make you salivate? Just a little bit?
Biting into this classic cake was an extremely moist and rich kick of coffee which I absolutely loved. The coffee balanced the chocolate ganache enough that it wasn't too overwhelming. I'm not a crazy fan of chocolate so this was perfect for me. Hit all the right spots!


Next up, I tried the Lemon Tart - their best seller supposedly. I must say, I do not like lemon pastries - period. I like honey lemon tea. I like lemon juice on salmon. I like lemons. Just not lemon infused pastries or cakes. Not sure why but something about having lemon in a pastry changes the taste of what a natural lemon tastes like. Something about the tangy flavour I must not like. I probably do not even make sense but, you know me.

Loved the texture of the tart, it was a smooth lemon curd with pearls of crystallized sugar which gave the most interesting texture to it with you bite into it. The buttery tart was on par and added to the overall harmonious texture. You can tell whoever made this gave their utmost attention into each detail from the taste to the texture. Everything was good for me except me not liking the taste of lemon. But other than that I can see how this is one of their best sellers.




Now the Blueberry Tart and Raspberry Tart had no surprises. It was a standard fruit tart. Buttery shell, fresh fruit, and a vanilla cream. Wasn't great, wasn't bad, but would never buy the full sized portion - it just wouldn't be worth it.

I believe this was just called a Chocolate Tart. Right next to the blueberry tart, this was a VERY rich piece. Overpowering wave of chocolate hits you when you bite into this. If you love chocolate, you will certainly love this. A chocolate tart made with three forms of chocolate - a piece of chocolate, a chocolate ganache, and a chocolate cream filling. For me personally, it was too much, like I said earlier that I am not the biggest fan of chocolate. I have the occasional craving for chocolate but not a 24/7 urge to eat it like some people I know.
Lastly, the Passionfruit Opera in the back second from the right. This was unique I must say. Like the coffee opera but instead of the coffee cream it was a passionfruit butter cream with a passionfruit glaze on top. The passionfruit taste was very pronounced but again, I think the tanginess of the passionfruit makes me not love the pastry. The execution of the delicate layers are amazing but the actual taste of it just did not amaze me. In fact, it was a little bit weird for me. Imagine tangy, then rich chocolate, then back to that sour tangy taste. Like orange flavoured chocolate - something I will never understand. I guess it's all about balance and I just.... do not like that form of balance between tangy and rich sweetness.

Overall I love the idea of the product, it gives the customer a chance to try an assortment of the beautiful pastries they offer. Although it is assorted, I would have liked it to have each pastry be of a different kind. Seeing the doubling of not one but two kinds of pastries makes me miss out on the chance of trying 2 different kinds. They could have easily added two of their amazing macarons into the box. Until next time!

Faubourg on Urbanspoon

Krispy Kreme - The Only Halloweeny Thing I Did

October - a month of spooky ghosts, witches and gruesome monsters. For me, I'm really not a fan of this month; the tacky home decor, the high crime rates, and unsafe candies don't particularly make me feel like a jolly happy little kid. (That's why I LOVE Christmas.) Literally when October 1st hit, I was waiting for the month to go by so I can  rekindle the Christmas spirit in me. With Halloween still a holiday before I can actually enjoy the Christmas season, I had to celebrate it somehow. A night of Krispy Kreme donuts, horror movies, and takeout food with friends was my Halloween night. Sadly, no more silly trick or treating for me. The night was awfully dead anyways. No one had the Halloween spirit, almost zero kids trick or treating and it just seemed like any other regular night.

Anyways, back to food; the closest Krispy Kreme location was a 25 minute drive with a couple highways and turns here and there. With a car ride filled with laughs and casual talking, we got there in a blink of an eye.


It was about 9:30PM at night and they had their BUY ONE DOZEN FOR $5.99 AFTER 9PM (Regular $11.99) deal going on so we went crazy. It was my first time here and I was pretty sure that the deal was a year long promotion but we all stuffed our faces and went out the door with a couple boxes each.



So many choices, such a small stomach - whatever will I do? Buy them all of course. 


Left to right, up to down: Pumpkin Cheesecake, The PUMPKIN, Mocha Kreme Filled, Original, Custard Filled, Chocolate.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not too much of a sweet tooth. Originals tasted the best for me. Fluffy, airy, simplistic, perfect.
All the kreme filled ones were too overwhelming for me. The amount of kreme in the donuts made me sick. I did like the topping for the pumpkin cheesecake though. It mimics the graham layer of a typical cheesecake, the filling however did not taste anything pumpkin-like. 

I will make this entry short by letting you all know that original will always be the best. 

Krispy Kreme on Urbanspoon

Black Dragon Sushi - To lazy to step out of my house

My team and I at http://www.youtube.com/hippollamaproduction had a last night session so we decided to grab dinner. However, we were so lazy that we just used Just-eat.ca for their list of delivery services in the near vicinity. Scrolling down past all the pizza places, we chose sushi. How original. After cross analyzing with Urbanspoon, Black Dragon Sushi had a 90% rating so we had to go with it! Picked a couple items and off the order went to be made in some random place we will probably never go to. Sadly, delivery took a while so we weren't too happy about that. That one hour of stomach growling should have only been 45 minutes.
Food arrived and we POUNCED on it.
Let's start with some Spicy Chopped Scallop Roll ($4.45) and Deep Fried California Rolls ($4.95)
Even though I wanted to try the deep fried california roll, I resisted the temptations to make my throat hurt even more than it should be. Chopped scallop was not impressive by any standards, the scallop was cut in such small pieces, drowned in some mixture and hardened together in a ball of disappointment. 

Onto the Roll Sushi Tray (41pcs) $30 filled with Yam,California, Dynamite, BC, Cucumber, Scallop Tamago, Tuna, and Salmon. 
First look, already sighing in a wave of emotional letdowns. Just look at that wasabi.
It literally takes up a good portion of the entire tray. You could have put another nigiri on there. It just looks gross seeing a mound of green slop. Rolls, same sigh of disappointment. I have almost never had bad sushi before, but this tops it. The rice was dry and hard almost. Salmon, chopped scallop, and tuna did not taste fresh at all. Just NO. Stop. Every piece of sushi on this tray was not up to par with a typical cheap japanese restaurant. I cannot believe I spent money on this. What is more shocking is that this restaurant has a 90% rating on Urbanspoon. Either I need to go eat in, or I need to reevaluate my taste buds.


Black Dragon Sushi 龍壽司 on Urbanspoon

Memphis Blues Barbeque House - It all ends up the same

3 People - 2 guys 1 girl, one dish. Did we finish? 

Nope.

Went to Memphis Blues Barbeque House one night for no apparent reason. Wasn't even too hungry at the time too. With multiple locations, we ended up at the commercial drive one and ordered the Memphis Feast, their signature item with practically everything on it.

Service was horrible, I found it weird that we had to go up to them to order and grab our own utensils when all they did was bring us water. Decor had the very southern and beer filled peanut throwing atmosphere.

Our dish came and.... meat on meat on meat.
 A person can only eat so much meat in one sitting. 
There were ribs, corn bread, sausages, potato salad, coleslaw, chili, BBQ sauce, pulled pork, chicken, and beef brisket.
The whole farm was on this plate and we were amazed. One thing I must say at first is that it wasn't piping hot. Slightly above room temperature meat is kind of disturbing. 

At first it was amazing - the powerful smokey barbeque flavours of the beef, sausage, pork, and ribs. Chicken was rather dry and bland though. I also wasn't a fan of the corn bread.

For what you get its worth it, seeing the sheer amount of meat on the plate. However, you will quickly get sick of it because the meat is just too overwhelming after the first couple bites. What's worse is that everything ends up tasting the same - barbeque sauce. 

You like barbeque sauce? Come here because its amazing and you get a truckload of meat. You actually eat vegetables like me? Use your own grill.
Small eater? Bring friends.
Memphis Blues Barbeque House on Urbanspoon
[Mobile Review - Photos taken on Samsung Galaxy S3]
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