August 19, 2008

BANANA LEAF


"EVERYTHING TASTED SO GOOD"

Location: 1096 Denmen Street, Vancouver
Telephone: 604-683-3333
Website: BANANA LEAF

This is my second meal at BANANA LEAF and it was every bit as good as the first time. We got there at 6:15pm and the place was packed which I wasn't expecting, by the time the appetizers came around, there was a line-up at the door. The BANANA LEAF is a smaller eatery but it's hopping.

As I said, we sat down and ordered drinks (Mai Tai & San Pelligrino) and some appies: Roti Canai - Flaky layered bread with curry dip and Gado-Gado Salad - Cooked bean sprouts tofu salad with potato & cucumber, topped with egg & satay sauce. The Roti was sublime but the Curry Sauce while tasty could have used more kick. The Salad however was fantastic, the sprouts mixed with the tofu and satay sauce was a magic combination, I would definitely order it again.

For our mains we had Scallops in Caramelized Ginger Sauce with Kicap Manis - Jumbo Scallops in caramelized ginger & garlic enriched with Malaysian black sweet sauce and Nonya’s Style Curry Boneless Chicken - Boneless chicken breast simmered in creamy curry with lemon grass, coconut cream. Both dishes were an absolute knockout! The scallops were big and juicy while that caramelized ginger sauce could be a dish on its own, it's that good. The Chicken curry was also extremely flavourful and much lighter than I was expecting.

We were in and out of the BANANA LEAF in 75 minutes with full bellies and smiles plastered on our faces. Everything tasted so good and the bill was under $65, not bad at all. We will definitely be returning to the BANANA LEAF for a third adventure!
RATING: 8/10 FULL BELLIES

August 12, 2008

THE SHORE CLUB


"IT'S A GOOD STEAK, I WAS JUST EXPECTING MORE"

Location: 688 Dunsmuir Ave, Vancouver
Telephone: 604-899-4470
Website: SHORE CLUB

Growing up in Vancouver, I can still remember the days when the historic Hudson building used to be home to Science World (pre-expo), then for a while it sat empty gathering dust until last year when the whole block transformed. Now 688 Dunsmuir is home to one of the swankiest restaurants in town, a place memorable for its d├ęcor, and professional service. A place that offers the day's freshest fish and seafood, as well as succulent prime Alberta steaks, in a dynamic, high-energy atmosphere. Welcome to THE SHORE CLUB.

Now normally, I wouldn't venture into a place like this unless it was for a special occasion as it is quite pricey but when a work function took us there, I was excited to try it out. First off, THE SHORE CLUB is beautiful, it is a great looking room, the lighting, the bar, the reception area, the private rooms, the kitchen, the tables, the overall ambiance, it gives you a great feeling and builds up the expectation of enjoying a better-than-good meal. Next you see the serving staff, top notch, well dressed in white button-up dinner jackets, extremely attentive without being obtrusive and always there to fill up your glass without you having to ask.

The menu is a one-pager (a nice change from the usual novel you find in most eateries) filled with delicious looking choices but right off the bat I was reminded again that this was an expensive place and that luckily I wasn't paying for this meal.

Sitting at a table of over 16 people, it was hard to see what everyone was having but I will share what my little corner of the world ate. One co-worker ordered the Herb-Dusted Sea Bass baked, with mixed beans, ancho-chili aioli which he said was quite tasty. Another co-worker ordered the server-recommended classic Bouillabaisse with king and snow crab, prawns and fresh fish in saffron broth which she said was "the freshest she's ever tasted". Finally I ofcouse had the thick cut Filet Mignon and a side of Mashed Potatoes.

SHORE CLUB is the sister restaurant to GOTHAM STEAKHOUSE and calls itself a Chop House so I had to give the meat a try. The Filet was good, obviously fresh and delicately seasoned but it did not blow me away. Like my red wines, I like a steak that packs a punch, an explosion of flavor and I didn't get that with the SHORE CLUB Filet Mignon. At prices hovering around the $50 mark for steak, I expect a party in my mouth with each bite. I guess I wasn't invited to the party. Don't get me wrong, it's a good steak, I was just expecting more.

As for the Mashed Potatoes, these were a bit of a disappointment as they lacked flavor and seemed a tad overcooked. For dessert we shared the Key Lime Pie which also left me unfulfilled, nowhere near as tart as I would have liked.

Overall THE SHORE CLUB is a must see, the room itself and the service is outstanding. The food is also quite good but at these prices, there is equal or better and cheaper elsewhere in the city but that being said, if you are going out to impress, it's hard to beat the overall experience that THE SHORE CLUB offers.
RATING: 6/10 FULL BELLIES

August 6, 2008

THE REEF


"WE WILL DEFINITELY BE GOING BACK FOR SECONDS..."

Location: 1018 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Telephone: 604-568-JERK
Website: THE REEF

I’ve heard about THE REEF for quite some time but have never eaten there until now. As their latest location is close to our Neighborhood, the wife and I decided to walk down to their Commercial Drive home and sample some Caribbean cookery to see if all the good things we heard were true.

We arrived, were seated promptly and then sat slack-jawed as we investigated their robust and impressive Rum list. Mixing rums, shooting rums, sipping rums plus a cavalcade of rum cocktails… THE REEF is indeed “rum paradise”. With a few cocktails on the way, I ordered some Jerked Wings while we sampled some of their devilishly delicious Johnny Cakes (their version of Bread), a sinful doughnut-type bun served with an excelled coconut butter. The Wings arrived and they lived up to their name, tender fall-off-the-bone meat coupled with the smokey tastes of Jerk spice made this chicken appetizer a winner.

For our entrees, we both dove into the sea as my wife ordered the Swordfish special and I took on the Maracas Bay Mahi Mahi. As we waited for our meal, back to the Rum list we went and two more cocktails were ordered (damn, they are good). The meals arrived! The Curry and Lime pan-seared Mahi Mahi fillet was outstanding, firm yet juicy and bursting with flavour. It was served with a jicama & apple slaw, coconut rice and seasonal veggies, a winner as far as I was concerned. My wife’s Grilled Swordfish was another homerun, topped with a fresh Strawberry Salsa and served with curried rice & seasonal veggies. We shared both meals and were completely stuffed by the end.

What they say is true, THE REEF is a great restaurant. The staff is pleasant, the drinks ample and the food is quite tasty. We will definitely be going back for seconds… and thirds… and fourths.
RATING: 9/10 FULL BELLIES