Father’s Day Brunch @ the Fish House, Stanley Park

 So, June I had been uber lazy with blogging. Probably because I was too busy eating. Seriously, I think I gained nearly 10 pounds in the past month. Anyway, so this Father’s Day post is 3 weeks late, but what the heck. Anyway, I had wanted to make a reservation at the Sequoia Grill at Stanley Park for Father’s Day. Unfortunately, I was a little late and they were fully booked. I decided instead to try the other Stanley Park restaurant, the Fish House, which I have never been to before. 

Fish House

Fish House

 

I came here with my parents and my aunt and uncle. It was a really nice beautiful sunny Sunday, and pretty much the entire city was out, rollerblading, biking, walking, suntanning at the beach. Yeah, downtown and Stanley Park were crazy busy. We got to the Fish House and since we had a reservation, were seated right away. There was a couple in front of us without a reservation and I think they were told to wait; the restaurant was pretty packed with families big and small (many were tourists). It’s pretty nice inside, high ceilings, spacious dining rooms with large doors and windows, beautifully lit with sunlight, nice patio. 

I liked their menu – their fresh sheet menu has a LOT of different fish (probably the most I have seen) that I would have liked to try except it was a lunch thing and I wasn’t too hungry, so I didn’t order from there.

Fish House menu

Fish House menu

Everybody gets a complimentary pastry to start. Their pastries are made in house, and carried out in a giant basket and you get to pick from a muffin, croissant, or scone. I tried a bit of everything – the croissant was the best, flakey and warm and not too buttery. The blueberry scone was great too, especially with the blueberry preserves that was served with the pastries. The apple muffin was the least exciting.

croissant

croissant

 

muffin

muffin

scone

scone

 

Hmmm…. Flakey fresh croissant:


 

Unfortunately there are only a few pics of the rest to post, as everybody had the warm salmon salad, which was garnished with some daikon, tomato and chives. It was a good salad although nothing too spectacular. You can upgrade to from pink to sockeye for a few bucks more.
 

salmon salad

salmon salad

 

Except for my dad who always picks burgers (doesn’t really matter where he goes, it’s always burgers. And fries. And occassionally, a boring Caesar salad. You guessed it, he was also the one who chose the boring muffin):
 

burger

burger

 

Our server was a most proper and warm guy who was really pampering. The service is not speedy at all, but that is to be expected – you’re there to relax and enjoy your brunch. And they get everything right. We ordered a few coffees and I an Americano and Dad got some Merlot and all of that was pretty good. I was the one who paid (of course!) and the bill only came out to be about 20 bucks per person. 

Overall, quality and service and the atmosphere here is great. I would have loved to try some of their fresh fish, so maybe next time. If I had the choice though, and was in the neighborhood, I would definitely pick the Sequoia Grill over the Fish House, any day. Both places are excellent. The Fish House probably has a better, larger fish menu, and is more “fine-dining”, but personally I like sitting at the Sequoia Grill, and I find they put more effort into making and presenting their food. That’s just me.

 

The Fish House in Stanley Park

8901 Stanley Park Drive, Vancouver

Tel: 604-681-7275

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Latte Art @ Cafe Artigiano

Heart

Back from a little hiatus… which involved a hospital visit and being dissected. This unfortunately means that my Christmas posts will not be filled with extreme feasting. *sigh* However, I am backlogged on posts, so we should be bursting with food nevertheless! For Christmas Eve, I have decided to dedicate a post to something lovely: Coffee.

I was a tea drinker… once. I used to dislike coffee. Somehow, some when, I converted. At first, I could drink the instant stuff. Then I went from getting a tall Americano from Starbucks once in a little while, to having a grande every day. Now, the drip brew from Tim Horton’s tastes like shit to me. I am by no means a coffee connoiseur, I don’t even brew my own… but I salivate when I see nice espresso machines. I only know that I don’t like drip brew, I don’t like bitter, I don’t like over-roasted, and I prefer espresso-based drinks.

Caffè Artigiano is considered to be one of the best coffee houses in Vancouver, and has won the Canadian Barista Championship for several years. I love their espresso for what it tastes like, not the leaves and hearts that decorate the milk foam on top. Not that I don’t consider it a skill, but latte art in general doesn’t impress me so much, because sometimes I think of fancy-shmancy as a cover up for a less satisfactory product. This is, of course, not the case at Artigiano. Though I must admit the latte experience is more exciting with the art than without.

Their Americano is good, better and with a nicer crema than your typical Starbucks fare:

Americano

Now, if you have had a latte at Starbucks, and actually like it, then that’s just… too bad. I can still drink Starbuck’s Americano, but there is no way I’d have the latte at Starbucks. I don’t know if there is latte better than Artigiano’s: their’s has got a great aroma, very roasty, and not at all bitter. Which is very important. It is far superior than most latte’s out there, even without the latte art. This particular leaf wasn’t the prettiest, but it really doesn’t matter:

leaf

Due so soon?! A tall just isn’t enough! 

due

Before I tried it I had an impression that this place might be a little overrated. I don’t think it is – Artigiano is really that good. But maybe just how great you think it is depends on your specific coffee preferences and snobbiness, and what you order. Artigiano is pretty much the same price as Starbucks, but to me it is far better. Unfortunately they just aren’t close to where I live, and I don’t have an espresso machine.

Caffe Artigiano

5 locations in Vancouver: Pender, Hornby, Hastings, Park Royal, Kerridale.

Autumn @ Stanley Park | Sequoia Grill

Totems

Autumn and totems @ Stanley Park

Beautiful, dry, autumn weekends are rare in Vancouver. So when it arrived we went down to Stanley Park for a walk and lunch. I haven’t been in the park for a long time now. In December 2006, a giant storm leveled 45 hectares of the park and knocked out 2 km of the Seawall, and you can really see the damage – a lot of cut trees, closed paths. Still, the park remains ever so beautiful on this day of autumn colors.

Enjoyed lunch at the Sequoia Grill (ie. the Stanley Park Teahouse pre-2004) at Ferguson Point, which has a great view of English Bay on the west side of the park.

Sequoia Grill View

View from Sequoia Grill

Their warm house bread was very savoury, with a thick, chewy crust. I think it was a kalamata olive bread. More special than your plain baguette, I guess. Their little pieces of butter had “butter” printed on it. Good to know it’s butter.

Bread

House bread

Stuffed mushrooms appy. More crab than shrimp. Nothing complicated, but like most of their dishes, some attention to detail.

Stuffed Mushrooms 
Mushrooms stuffed with crab, shrimp and mascarpone

I (and pretty much everybody around me) had the Catch of the Day, which was Cedar plank wild Sockeye salmon with a maple glaze. The glaze went very well with the salmon, not overly sweet ot thick. The salmon moist and flavorful, but didn’t taste all that different from any old grilled Sockeye. I just couldn’t taste a significant Cedar-ness or smokiness to it. Oh well.

Wild Sockeye on Cedar

Cedar Plank Wild Sockeye, Maple Glaze

The grilled steak is on their regular brunch menu. I thought the eggs were perfectly done (to me, anyway): Golden and soft yolks that are not runny.

Steak

Grilled Steak, red wine jus

The service here is prompt, pretty decent; the restaurant was over half full for weekend brunch. The nicest thing about Sequoia is not the food, but sitting in their conservatory-style sun room/patio enclosure, dining under the sun and looking out onto the water on a day like this. Two little irksome things: Footsteps are very loud and rumbly in the patio/observatory, and gets a little bothersome when all the servers are running around. And you’d figure at a restaurant like this they would use nice, presentable plates, not worn out ones that look like they came from a stack at a buffet place. Did the Sequoia group not bother with buying some new plates when they took over the Teahouse in 2004?

Sequoia Grill

Ferguson Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver.

The art of salad rolls.

I love anything that comes rolled up in some kind of wrap. Salad rolls are one of my favorites. So refreshing and tasty with peanut sauce dip. I always have some rice paper lying around at home; salad rolls and variations thereof are pretty simple to make. Still, I cannot resist ordering these things whenever I come across them, but I get a little annoyed if the rolls look like something I whipped up at home in a hurry. Here is a small sampling of the rolls around town.  At somewhat similar prices, Green Lemongrass serves up a pretty yummy roll.

A salad roll at Thai House, downtown Vancouver:
Thai House Salad Roll
Presentation: 0.5/5 (I’ll give it half a mark for that ‘attempt’ with the orange slice. But that might even be too much.)
Taste: 0.5/5 (I mean, just what kind of sauce is that. It was just hoisin straight out of the bottle without anything added. What kind of salad roll does not come with a sauce containing peanuts?!)
 

A salad roll at Green Lemongrass, Richmond:
Lemongrass Salad Roll
Presentation: 4.5/5
Taste: 4.5/5
 

A salad roll at Fraser Valley Salad Bar, Granville Island, Vancouver:Salad Roll
Presentation: 2.5/5 (the utensils are forgivable since it’s food court food and not a restaurant, but the rolling technique, the quintessential rolling technique!)
Taste: 3.5/5

I am surprised that Thai House made it into one of the best restaurants in Vancouver in a recent issue of http://www.vanmag.com/. I found the food there to be completely lack-lustre, especially at the downtown location. In Richmond, competition in the restaurant business has always been pretty fierce. That’s why Richmonders have such picky palates. That’s why you don’t serve ugly looking salad rolls in Richmond and hope to get customers back.