Dine Out Vancouver 2012

Dine Out Vancouver is an annual event sponsored by Tourism Vancouver. It’s a great event that gives people an affordable option to have a three course meal at restaurants they may not usually or ever go to. Each restaurant does a prix fixe menu (starter/entree/dessert) of either $18/$28/$38. Tax and tip are on top of that, as are the optional wine pairings, but it’s still cheaper than a non dine out dinner.

When this year’s event was announced, I immediately logged on to OpenTable.com (sign up, make reservations, get points; it’s awesome) and made reservations. And so the Dine Out adventure began.

Dinner #1: THE BOATHOUSE (900 Quayside Drive, New West)

When I told my friend Alison that the Boathouse near our houses was having a Dine Out menu, she immediately suggested we go there. The Boathouse is a great chain of restaurants around the Lower Mainland of BC that serves good seafood and an above average steak. They are great for group dinners and parties, and dinner won’t break the bank. They had the option of a $28 menu or a $38 menu. Ali and I each opted for the $38.

We were sat at a table that clearly was not normally there (except during Dine Out) – the wait staff was FLYING by us. Once we got used to that, life was good. Ali had just had a bit of a day, and so we ordered a bottle of wine. We had a lovely bottle of Tyee (BC) Cabernet Merlot and dished the day.

My green salad. Ali ordered a Caesar salad.
My Wild BC Salmon with Crab Neptune Stuffed Lobster Tail - YUM
Fire-grilled Tenderloin Filet & Prawns (6 oz. with merlot demi glaze & grilled jumbo prawn skewer)
Ali's dessert
My New York style cheesecake without berry compote as I am allergic to strawberries 😦

Dinner #2: CINCIN RISTORANTE + BAR (1154 Robson Street, Vancouver)

Ali, our friend Kate, and myself had a girls night and CinCin was a great place for it. I was running late (of course) but we all were and I happened to get there first. I was asked to wait at the bar while our table was set up. I can’t explain why, but I felt very cosmopolitan or if you will, posh as I sat down and ordered what turned out to be a $15 glass of the very lovely house Pinot Noir. (I know that’s not “expensive”, but I was still mildly surprised when I looked at the wine menu after the fact.)

CinCin is a restaurant that I have been wanting to try for a long time. And of course, the night I go, I forget my camera. Alas, the photos from my iPhone did not do the food that we ate justice (dim lighting is not a smartphone camera’s friend…), except (sort of) my dessert.

I love Italian food and this restaurant did not disappoint. All but one of the photos did not turn out and I did not have a notebook, so I my descriptions of thefood will be woefully inaccurate… Ali and I opted for the Dine Out menu while Kate was craving pasta. Ali’s primi escapes me, but mine was a tasty wood smoked octopus with garlic, greens, and crispy potato strings. (Now that I think about it, I think she had the same thing as me…) My secondi consisted of a delicious trout with white beans, artichokes and this really fantastic sauce. Ali had the pasta with lamb and our desserts were all over the map. Mine is below.

Hazelnut mousse cake with apple sorbet

Dinner #3: BRIX RESTAURANT & WINE BAR (1138 Homer St., Vancouver)

This turned out to be my favourite of the four Dine Out meals I enjoyed. I’ve walked past this place many a time and it’s sign to walk through the curtain has always intrigued me. And no wonder. Once again, I forgot my camera and the phone camera did not do justice, but it was like walking into “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. So incredibly beautiful – a covered patio ensconced by brick walls, with candlelit tables  strategically placed around the occasional tree. And then you walk in the restaurant to a more posh, Napa like vibe. I loved it. They host a lot of weddings there, and I can imagine that they are beautiful. (I had considered it, but we wanted to “go away”, hence the Sunshine Coast as our wedding venue :).)

Sean and I were joined by our friends Matt and Dori. I love going for dinner with them because they appreciate and enjoy a good glass of wine and a nice meal as much as we do. And they are just fantastic people. (Note: If you ever need a place to ship things from Amazon,com or Macy’s or whatever – and don’t want to pay ridiculous $$$ to ship to Canada, visit their warehouse website (www.pacificmailandparcel.com) for info. But I digress. Back to food.)

My roasted beet salad, toasted pistachios, frisee, okanagan goats cheese, orange segments
Dori and Sean ordered the seared scallops (prosciutto wrapped, barbeque duck fried risotto, scallions, crisp garlic and shallots).
Matt ordered the local Dungeness Crab Cake (crab with tomato bisque, citrus micro greens).
My truffle honey roasted fresh Vancouver Island ling cod (pan roasted, crisp skin, charred tomato & lemon risotto, almond tarragon pistou)
Sean's 5oz steak
Matt's 10oz steak
Dori, Sean, and I ordered vanilla bean panna cotta, fresh fruit & coulis.
Matt's sticky toffee pudding

And then we went to Blenz in Yaletown for after dinner caffeine beverages. They make an excellent hot chocolate (the best is in Napoli, but that’s another story).

WEST RESTAURANT (2881 Granville St. @ 13th Ave, Vancouver)

When I mentioned Dine Out to Sean, the first word out of his mouth was “WEST!” It’s his favourite restaurant. And so I made a reservation for us, Alison, Claire (of cleanse fame), Ali’s brother Kyle, and his girlfriend, Roberta. I was only able to get a 5pm reservation (and on a Thursday), which was not a problem time wise until the day of. Long story short, Sean was caught in horrible, monstrous traffic getting home to change and didn’t get to come because logistically it was impossible for him to get there even 30 minutes late. We were all pretty bummed, but had been told to have fun without him. I brought him home  a dessert, which was appreciated but we will have to get back to West very soon.

Anyhow, we all had the Dine Out menu ($38), and it was delicious.

Carrot ginger soup

So, funny story about the soup. There we are, all of a sudden surrounded by servers, each there to serve our individual dishes. Mine slides my bowl in front of me and it is void of anything except the pretty garnish on the left. I turn to politely inquire if I was missing something, and before I look up at my waiter, I see that he is holding a small white pitcher. I smartly turned back to my bowl just as he started to pour the beautiful soup into my bowl. Kyle ordered the same thing and apparently the look on his face when the bowl was put in front of him was priceless. (The pouring soup at the table must be a new thig. I’ve been to fancy restaurants all over the world and cannot recall that every happening. That being said, I felt very special and sheepish. lol.)

Ali's starter salad
My black truffle and double cream agnolotti with prawn - enjoyed with a lovely glass of pinot noir. 🙂
I want to say Alison had the Dungeness crab... I really should have taken notes!
Everyone else had the pork cheeks with apple sauce. Prawns were on special so most of us took advantage. Delicious!
Ali and Kyle's choice of dessert
My heavenly chocolate cake with chocolate chip whipped cream and raspberry coulis. My green tea was served in a cast iron Japanese teapot.
Claire's cheese plate

And that was Dine Out 2012. Apologies, again for the “okay” (at best) photos and the somewhat inarticulate food descriptions. I had forgotten my camera every time and no matter what camera phone is used, it just can’t do food justice. Next year, I will have a notebook and pen in hand. 🙂

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