The One with the Birthday & 3 Dineouts

My favourite thing about birthdays?? I get to pig out!!! oink oink..

Many of my friends find it enviable that my birthday usually falls on the week of Dineout Vancouver. Dineout is an annual 2 week long event for foodies all around to savour delicious meals prepared in a 3-course fashion. The really popular restaurants get booked up almost instantly, whereas others don’t even take reservations!

This year for my birthday, I did 3 Dineout events! One on my actual birthday, one on the weekend and another the week after.

First I would like to say that… Apparently this is everyone’s impression of me….. lol

yup…. that’s me…

Wanna know what I got for my birthday present???? Read on!!!

Salmon House on the Hill

2229 Folkestone Way, West Vancouver, BC 

Salmon House on the Hill on Urbanspoon
Literally a restaurant set on the hillside in West Vancouver featuring their acclaimed salmon! Even though the Dineout menu only specified “Seafood” for its cuisine type, I found the dishes to contain a pinch of Aboriginal flair. There were a lot of interesting Aboriginal artifacts, including a canoe, that could be found in the restaurant too.

For only $28, we got 2 sets of appetizers, entrées and desserts!

They served bread with…. not butter… but I honestly cannot remember what it was! It was an interesting taste. Couldn’t say I enjoyed it very much. But it wasn’t bad either.

Appetizer: Lobster and Prawn Bisque with bannock garlic croutons

Lobster and Prawn Bisque with Bannock Garlic Croutons

The bisque was served with bits of a native bread, bannock. I found the bisque to be quite average. It was not creamy enough and was slightly too salty and MSG-y.

Appetizer: Alderwood Grilled Prawns with Spinach Risotto

Aderwood Grilled Prawns with Spinach Risotto

This one was DELICIOUS. Brad and I were fighting over it. The risotto was extra creamy and I loved the addition of the spinach. I’ll admit that I’m lazy when it comes to peeling prawns, so a shaved one is just AWESOME.

Entrée: Alderwood Grilled NY Steak with jumbo fries

Alderwood Grilled NY Steak with Jumbo Fries

Alright let me tell you guys a little something but please don’t freak out…. I don’t… like steak…????!!! whaaaat?? Yeah I know.

There’s only been 2 occasions in my life where I loved the steak I ordered, but unfortunately this wasn’t one of those occasions. Therefore my judgement towards steaks tend to be quite biased. Brad thought it was a “good steak” but I found it tough and hard to chew even it its medium rare state.

Entrée: Pan Roasted Wild Sockeye Salmon with cardamom rice, gazpacho salsa and basil butter sauce

Pan Roasted Wild Sockeye Salmon with Cardamom Rice, Gazpacho Salsa and Basil Butter Sauce

I really really really LOOOOVED this!!! The salmon was simply amazing. And the basil butter sauce was impeccable! It paired up very nicely with the cardamom rice. This was originally Brad’s order but seeing how I disliked my steak, he offered to switch with me. tee hee.. (although he stole a whole chunk of salmon before doing so :( )

Dessert: Apple Ginger Crisp with caramel gelato

Apple Ginger Crisp with Caramel Gelato

Can’t go wrong with gelato! That’s for sure! I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when ordering this. All I knew was that I wanted to try the 2 desserts on the Dineout menu. This turned out quite yummy! I loved the crunchy apple crisp. Every spoonful of it with the gelato simply melted in my mouth. The server was quite nice. He knew it was my birthday and thus stuck a lighted candle on my ice-cream. awww…

Dessert: White Chocolate Mousse Cake

White Chocolate Mousse Cake

Alright now, this has got to be quite misleading. When you say “white chocolate blah-blah cake”, what do you think I’d expect? A WHITE cake with white chocolate. I know that technically a brown chocolate sponge cake would also fit into this category but… hmmm.. yeah… okay, sure. Mousse cake though? More like mousse frosting! Taste-wise, the cake was like an ordinary devil’s cake that I could have easily made myself. This felt like a “budget dessert” placed on this fine dining menu. Sorry, but the cake was a little bit of a let-down for me.

All in all, I would come back to Salmon House. I enjoyed my overall experience there and my server provided great service. Dineout 2013? Maybe! We’ll have to see what’s on the menu!

Chocolate Banane from Ganache Patisserie

That’s my birthday cake from Brad!! It’s from my favourite bakery called Ganache Patisserie!  Chocolat Banane: dark chocolate mousse, caramelized bananas, praline crunch, hazelnut dacquoise. BEST CAKE EVER!!!! If only I could bake this….

look at those layers!

Mistral French Bistro 

2585 West Broadway, Vancouver

Mistral French Bistro on Urbanspoon
This was located at the heart of Kitsalano. Brad was raving about their delicious duck confit, and his sister, Courtney, said that it was a memorable restaurant where she would celebrate her milestone events.

Mistral French Bistro

I took a look at the menu. Only $28 for its Dineout! I worked out how much it would have been were I to individually order each item… $10+$22+$9 = $41 without dineout! Yes, it definitely is a good deal! Keep in mind that most restaurants usually cater to a smaller portion or make changes to their original non-dineout menu whenever they serve 3 course meals for a discount. So that calculation is just an estimate.

As you would expect of most good dineout restaurants, the place was packed! I only managed to secure a 5pm reservation for 7 people even though it was booked 2 weeks ahead. Then again, this was for a Saturday, so I really can’t complain!

Appetizer: Soya and Black Pepper Marinated Albacore Tuna in dijon-sesame crust, cucumber and celery salad

Marinated Albacore Tuna

I enjoyed the tuna very much! It was very flavourful and well-seasoned. I only wished there was a piece more….! It was perfectly cooked as well! Not too moist and not too dry! 

Appetizer: Provencal Tomato Soup, pistou foam, tapenade crouton

I don’t really have anything to compare this with as I haven’t had this before. But I enjoyed dipping my complimentary bread into it!

Entrée: Duck Leg Confit, duck jus with orange, gratin dauphinois

Duck Confit

This really lived up to its hype! Brad and Courtney were raving about Mistral’s amazing duck confit and I was not at all disappointed. I had saved my appetite for the day and when the delightful looking leg arrived, I devoured it within minutes. It was so juicy and tender! The dauphinois potatoes (scalloped potatoes) complemented it perfectly! So creamy, so soft, a little cheesy and…. there are simply no words to describe this enchantment… 

I’ve actually never had duck confit before, but this will certainly not be my last!

Entrée: AAA Alberta Steak grilled, creamy green peppercorn sauce, house French fries

Unfortunately did not get a picture of this. Anyway, I thought this steak was better than the one at Salmon House. It was much more chewable and I loved the creamy green peppercorn sauce topping on it! YAY, the 3rd steak that I’ve actually enjoyed!

Dessert: Mistral dark Chocolate Mousse, chocolate sauce

This was Charles’ order! It looked very pretty but I did not try it. So no comments.

Dessert: Pineapple soup, mint sirop, coconut ice cream

Pineapple with Rasberry Ice cream

I’m not sure if they changed the menu because that ice cream was definitely raspberry, and unless i grew up in another universe, I’m pretty sure this dish would not be classified as “soup”… I suggest it as a light and healthy dessert option for those bloated on their appe and entrée.

Dessert: Coffee Macaron, tiramisu cream, coffee ice cream, chocolate sauce

Coffee Macaron

This is by far the BEST macaron I’ve ever tasted! I never knew that macarons could taste this good! I’m definitely going to start baking them!!

Jin, Me, Wendy

Tracy, Me, Cindy

So happy to spend another birthday with my favourite girls! They never fail to make me feel so loooooved! <3

Service was great at Mistral Bistro! They were attentive and efficient. Everything was going so well until the bill arrived…. Close to the end of the meal, our server asked if we wanted coffee or tea and served some basic beverages to my girlfriends who wanted it, not realizing that each ordinary cup was $3. Okay, I guess it was expected that there was no such thing as a free drink, so we turned a blind eye to that.

It’s an Opera Cake!!!

However, my girlfriends surprised me by bringing in a cake, which unbeknownst to us, had an applicable fee to it. Apparently, the charge for serving my cake was $17.50 PLUS TAX! That’s almost the cost of buying a new cake! When we asked our server why we got charged, she simply said that it was typical of most restaurants to charge for serving alcohol or cakes that were not purchased at the restaurant. They added that this wasn’t made known to us because we didn’t ask them in the first place, and had already brought the cake in anyway.

The Cake that cost $17.50 to serve

Perhaps I’m not used to too much fine dining. I’m not ashamed to say that I love my cheap eats. Maybe, it is a given to people who frequent fancier restaurants that such services would yield a fee. Did the servers conclude that it was awkward or inappropriate to mention those charges? Ultimately, I felt that we still should have been given a “full disclosure” before we could make an informed decision.

That aside, my Opera Cake was SOOOOOO GOOOD! It was my first time trying it. Looks so complicated to bake, but I may attempt that one fine day… Thank you girlfriends!! Brad thinks it’s better than the Chocolat Banane, but Wendy and I liked the other one better.

Alright on the bright side,I’m not going to keep you guys in any more suspense, so guess what I got from my girlfriends this year……!!!!!

surprise!!!!

Brand New Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!!!!!

It’s MORE THAN A MIXER!! WEEEEEE MORE BAKING BAKING BAKING!!!

Thank you honeys and Ben!!

Thank you honeys and Ben!!

Alright, last dineout review.. omg this is such a long post. haha

Cardero’s in Coal Harbour

1583 Coal Harbour Quay

Cardero's Restaurant on Urbanspoon
What a deal!! $18 for a 3-course meal at Cardero’s!! We had this for lunch as the dinner would have cost us $10 more for exactly the same items. My sister, Tiara, and I were debating between Cardero’s and Teahouse but ultimately decided on this menu.

Cardero is a trendy restaurant / bar set in the heart of downtown Vancouver, overlooking beautiful views of Coal Harbour Marina and the North Shore.

Coal Harbour Marina

Welcome!

Non-dineout menu: Mussels coconut curry sauce, Asian herbs

Mussels in Coconut Curry Sauce

My sister and I decided to get something the non dineout menu, as well as a full dineout menu to share as we didn’t have a huge appetite that day. These mussels were $14 and I would say the portion was very generous. We found this to be very delicious! It tasted like a fusion, mixing Southeast Asian spices with European culinary preparation. The curry wasn’t very spicy and therefore suitable for those with a lower spice tolerance. I recommend!

Appetizer: Sesame Crusted Albacore Tuna pickled ginger & wasabi

Sesame Crusted Albacore Tuna

I thought this was just alright. After having tasted Mistral’s, there was simply no contest. It was quite plain and perhaps the chef had meant for it to be seasoned with the soya sauce, wasabi and ginger that it was served with. But to me, it just tasted like a regular tuna sashimi. Texture-wise, it was smooth and it seemed quite fresh.

Entrée: Grilled Steelhead Salmon grainy mustard butter, roasted squash risotto

Grilled Steelhead Salmon

I have to say I’m quite biased when it comes to salmon. But this dish made the menu very dineout-worthy! Both salmon and risotto were well cooked and seasoned! Yummy! I thought this was quite delicious.

Dessert: House Made Tiramisu mascarpone mousse & Kahlua

Tiramisu

Tiramisu…… Alright, so I know I tend to get a little more critical when it comes to cakes.. But I did enjoy this! It wasn’t exceptional but I would say it’s definitely above average. It wasn’t too creamy nor was it too soft, but I thought it lacked an oomph factor.

The perfect tiramisu to me would require a few extra layers as well as more lady fingers please! And I thought the lady fingers were soaked in espresso for too long, as they turned a tad bit too soft for my liking. Nevertheless, I would give it a thumbs up.

My sister and I

Tiara does lots of food reviews! Check out her blog, Sweet Addictions, here!

Service was adequate, but not exceptional. All in all, I would still come back to Cardero’s even without Dineout, although Dineout really made the meal more affordable than it usually is!

Anyway to conclude, I had a great Dineout experience and birthday this year! Looking forward to next year’s Dineout Vancouver!

Sister’s cake for moi from Sweet Obsessions!

From Sweet Obsessions

Bleeding Love

This was a Valentines’ Day Special cake, called Bleeding Love! </3 </3