Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Top 10 List - My favourtie foods of 2009

Follow Me Foodie’s Top 10 Favourite Foods of 2009

I decided to do a special post for my favourite foods of 2009 since I’ve started my blog.

They're mostly "best food in Vancouver" items, but there are a few that are listed from places I've traveled to this year. It's not the restaurant, but the particular dish I loved at that restaurant that makes the list.

There are other amazing/best food in Vancouver I've tried this year, but I'm only featuring the foods I've done reviews for.

It’s listed in random order because they’re all freaking delicious.

1. Pumpkin Bread (Special offer)

2. Vanilla Battered Prawns

3. Biggest Blueberry Pancake

4. Bison Steak

5. Matcha Macarons

6. Tuna Garlic Pepper Sashimi

7. Pork Tenderloin w/gerwrztraminer pan jus

8. Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

9. Pan-fried Prawns with Basil

10. “Signature” – Double Chocoloate Potato Brioche

This one doesn't count because you have to make it. It definitely deserves a shout out though: Tiramisu Cupcakes.

The Irish Heather - Long Table Series

Restaurant: The Irish Heather GastroPub – Long Table Series

Cuisine: Pub food/Irish/West Coast
Last visited: December 22, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC (West End/Downtown)
210 Carrall Street

Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3
Service: 2.5
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Irish cooking in Irish house with Irish people working
  • Sister restaurant to Salt Tasting Room, Shebeen, & Salty Tongue
  • Since 1997
  • Classy pub with affordable food
  • Homemade comfort food w/twist
  • Handmade sausages
  • Some fusion items or globally inspired twists
  • Sandwiches made with bread from Vancouver’s local Terra Bakery
  • Fine tuned menu
  • Extensive beer and wine list
  • Very popular Long Table Series offered – reservations required
  • Vegetarian options available
  • Casual, yet sophisticated
  • Lively atmosphere
  • 2 rooms – one brighter lighting the other darker
  • Serves lunch and dinner

**Recommendation: Long Table Series

So I finally made it! I’ve wanted to try the Long Table Series at The Irish Heather for so long but it’s always sold out. Kim (I’m Only Here for the Food) planned another Vancouver food blogger social and this was the first one I attended. I’m also one of the newest “members” to join this community so I was really excited. At the Long Table Series with Kim and Anita (La Petite Foodie) whom I’ve dined with before, I was also introduced to Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures) and Jessica (Yum-O-Rama).

This review will only focus on The Irish Heather GastroPub’s Long Table Series. It was my first time visiting, so my review will be based on this event, as well as my roasted duck!

The Long Table Series is a concept The Irish Heather started in early June 09. It is a dinner event that runs throughout the year on every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday night. People are seated at a 40 ft communal wooden table and Chef Lee Humphries prepares a special dish for each night. It used to be $12 (taxes and gratuities not included) for a main course + alcoholic beverage (sponsored) but since then they have increased their pricing to $15 offering the same thing. It hasn’t affected them one bit and this ever so popular event is a guaranteed sell out every time. I would definitely do it again. For $15 and what you get…I’m game!

The Irish Heather kind of reminds me of The Hub, but fancier and more gourmet and more sophisticated. I only tried one thing, but the menu at The Irish Heather feels more creative just by looking at it. On a taste level, I would actually compare the dish to something from Les Faux Bourgeois…and I love that restaurant. Of course Les Faux Bourgeois is French and therefore finer tuned, but The Irish Heather was heartier and a bit more affordable. I still prefer Les Faux Bourgeois though.

Overall the Long Table Series felt like a gourmet cafeteria with the communal table and mass produced gourmet meal. That doesn’t sound very good, but it was very good. Very relaxed and casual, but you’ll probably still end up talking to the people you go with. I felt like Oliver Twist getting a meal from the Upper East Side.

On the table:

**Roast Duck Leg 5/6

  • Roast Duck Leg With Colcannon Potatoes, Mushroom & Foie Gras Jus & 16 oz -Pint R&B Cream Ale $15
  • This was pretty great. I mean for $15 I really won’t be too picky about it. It’s not fine dining, but it had the quality of casual fine dining.
  • I don’t want to start off with a negative, but the first thing I noticed was that the duck didn’t have crispy skin. It was flavourful though with a simple seasoning of salt, pepper and some dried herbs.
  • It was a whole duck leg and it was quite flavourful. It was quite tender and shredded away like dark meat chicken. I do prefer duck breast over the leg though, but I’d probably need to pay $5 more for that.
  • Another thing I noticed was that it looked like everything was swimming in a pool of soup or ‘jus’. However not to worry, because at then end the cocannon potato mash soaks up everything. You won’t have a drop of au jus left.
  • I could definitely taste the foie gras in the jus, but I could taste it more in the beginning. It kind of got lost as I kept eating it. They had cut up piece of foie gras, but I didn’t get many in mine. Maybe 4 small cubes, however the flavour was cooked into the jus. I would have preferred the foie gras to be seared too. It was soft and it should have had a crispy exterior…sounds like a small thing but it would have made a world of difference. The size and texture of it made it come off as an oyster mushroom, especially since they were cut to the same size...kind of a waste of foie gras.
  • The mushrooms used were oysters, buttons, crimini and very few potobellos. It was mainly crimini mushrooms and they were all really plump and juicy and very sautéed and caramelized. The sweetness worked great with the natural sweetness duck has.
  • The Colcannon potato is a really traditional Irish dish and I love that they used it as the side. It gave it that Irish flare I wanted from a traditional Irish pub. It’s basically and Irish version of mashed potatoes except they add roughly chopped sautéed cabbage to it and maybe some bacon. This one had no bacon though. It didn’t need it because there was already enough going on and it would have taken away from the foie gras taste.If anything it could have used more garlic and onions. I couldn't taste any.
  • The colcannon potato was very starchy rather than creamy and I think he used a combination of Russet (baking) potatoes and maybe some Yukon Gold….but mainly Russet. I would have preferred all Yukon Gold potatoes or a combination of Yukon Gold and sweet potato becuase it would have went better with the duck. It was quite creamy and acted like a sponge for the au jus, but the texture was just very starchy. I liked the crunchiness of the cabbage to give the dish some texture. I could taste the foie gras flavour with the mushrooms, but when I ate it with the potato it got lost.
  • Together everything was delicious. You just wanted to mix it all up. How can you really go wrong with mashed potatoes, duck, mushrooms, and foie gras jus? They also added some sautéed spinach to give it some colour. It was a gourmet version of meat and potatoes...and delicious sauteed veggies all in one. It's a very hearty and meaty dish. One of those dishes you could pair with beer or wine. It was soft, creamy, feel good gourmet comfort food…for $15!

Irish Heather on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Toratatsu Japanese Tapas & Bistro

Restaurant: Toratatsu Japanese Tapas & Bistro

Cuisine: Japanese/Izakaya/Tapas/Fusion
Last visited: December 17, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC (West End/Downtown)
735 Denman Street
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Fusion/contemporary Japanese tapas
  • Creative tapas with global influences
  • Jazzy/lounge atmosphere
  • Features weekly “Top 5” popular choices of the week
  • Extensive menu (more options dining in than online)
  • Drink menu – focus on wine bar
  • Family owned – also own 2 Japanese restaurant chains in Tokyo
  • Executive Chef Kodai Uno – youngest son of family, trained at PICA (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts)
  • Japanese owned and operated
  • $30/person set menu available
  • Extra for Green tea
  • Dinner service/Open late
  • M-Sun 5-2am

**Recommendation: Cheese Tofu, Ebi Chili Mayo

My friend introduced me to Toratatsu Japanese Tapas & Bistro for some late night dining. She was craving their cheese tofu and was determined for me to try it as well. I have walked by it a couple times and it’s easy to skip unless you’re looking for it because it kind of blends in. If I’m on Denman I will most likely go to Kingyo if I’m feeling Japanese Izakaya. I love Izakaya and there are so many of them in Vancouver and I’ve managed to try a decent amount to be able to compare.

So how does Toratatsu Japanese Tapas & Bistro compare?

Guu – is more affordable, more comfort food options, less gourmet

Kingyo – is pricier, but also has better atmosphere, presentation and quality.

Hapa Izakaya – is pricier, but I prefer Hapa Izakaya dishes

Alpha Global Sushi & Bar – is pricier, and has more options

Ping’s Café – is more home style w/Canadian influence, Toratatsu has European influences and is more gourmet

Yuji’s Tapas – is pricier, more gourmet, better presentation and quality

Ebisu – similar pricing, but Toratatsu is more creative than Ebisu

Zakuushi Charcoal Grill – can’t really compare because Zakuushi specializes in charcoal grilled Izakaya

My comparison is very general and each Japanese Izakaya place is unique in their own way. To be fair I have menu recommendations for each restaurant so there’s at least one item I would go back for at each one.

I thought Toratatsu was good, but I’ve also had better. I came here without knowing anything about the restaurant and I still wasn’t blown away, and I feel like I should have been after doing my research. From what I tried I wouldn’t have guessed it would have such a deep history and popular recognition in Japan. The chef is very well trained and experienced yet I don’t think what I ordered showcased it well. I really hope he had a day off when I went because the dishes I didn't like I really didn't like. I would go again because I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and give it another try, but I’m also in no rush.

Note: Lighting made it impossible to take please bare with me.

On the table:

**Cheese Tofu 4.5/6

  • Creamy mascarpone tofu, toasted almonds, a touch of honey, served with baguette $6.80
  • This is their signature item that would make me rush to go back. It was also the item my friend was craving that inspired our entire visit here…and yes it was worth it.
  • It’s actually quite simple in ingredients, but the execution is a mystery to me. It’s served cold and I found it to be a very unique dish. I’ve never tried or seen anything really like it before. Truly their signature item!
  • The cheese tofu looked like tofu, but it was very smooth and creamy in texture almost like a thick yogurt. It’s a mix of tofu, mascarpone cheese and cream cheese and it’s heavenly and easy to spread. It’s not ooey gooey because it’s chilled and the cheesy taste is very light, but it's there.
  • The flavour was sweet from the touch of honey, very slightly savoury from the cheese tofu, and tart from the fresh strawberries you put on top. I love the sweet and tart combination but I think the cheese tofu could have been a bit cheesier tasting. It was almost like a cheese and fruit dessert and we actually ordered it at the end.
  • I loved the addition of almonds; however they got soggy so I was missing that crunch. They could have given a few more too.
  • The baguette was quite soft and untoasted, which worked well with the soft cheese tofu. I just wanted the almonds crunchy to give it more texture.

**Ebi Chili Mayo 4.5/6

  • Our famous tiger prawn tempura with our original chili mayo, almonds, won ton crisps $8.00
  • It seems like every Izakaya restaurant has their version. I can’t say I care too much for Ebi Chili Mayo, not to say I haven’t tried it, it’s just I can’t really compare it as well to other places. It’s recommended, on their weekly “top 5” list, and “famous” at Toratatsu so I had to order it.
  • The batter was a regular flour batter, but it was very crispy and puffy. I loved the tiger prawns which were huge. They were cooked perfectly and very crunchy and juicy. That was the best part! It’s a very creamy dish with a slightly spicy and very rich mayo sauce.
  • I loved how it came with almonds, which is different, but they were untoasted so that was a big “no-no” for me. They should really toast them to enhance the flavour.

Prawn Gyoza 1.5/6

  • Pan fried gyoza dumplings with Kurobuta pork and prawns $7.80
  • I don’t remember if this was recommended or popular, but it wasn’t my choice to order it. I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • It came out in a big clump. It was 6 gyozas that were stuck together like they had been frozen for too long. It was like a gyoza patty, but with very little stuffing. If it had tasted good I would let the presentation slip. It was very gummy from the over frozen or over cooked process.
  • The prawns were overcooked. It was more like shrimp than it was a prawn and they put an entire piece in one gyoza. I would rather have it minced up because they toughness of the prawn really stood out.
  • The sauce was a ponzu sauce, a soy and citrus vinaigrette with that spicy Japanese seasoning powder in it.

Calamari 1.5/6

  • Deep fried squid with house made dipping sauce. I’m not sure of the price because it’s not on their online menu, but I wouldn’t order it so it doesn’t matter.
  • I did not like this. I would give it a 1/6, but the dipping sauce was not bad so I added the .5.
  • The squid was overcooked and tough and it was also crunchy. It was really weird. It wasn’t like seafood crunchy either it was crunchy like eating soft bones crunchy. Yes – I was not a fan.
  • The dipping sauce was almost like a cole slaw mayo. It was pretty different and I didn’t mind it. It had minced up celery, carrots, and onions with Japanese mayo and kind of tasting a little like Thousand Island dressing.

Gindara Saikyo Yaki 3/6

  • Saikyo Miso marinated Sablefish served with sweet potato puree $9.80
  • The Sablefish was good with a nice crispy skin, but it didn’t have any sauce. It needed to be marinated longer, especially if there’s no sauce, because it lacked a bit of flavour.
  • The sweet potato puree was very creamy and I loved the texture. I think it was a mix of sweet potato, yams, and maybe some mayo, cream and butter. It wasn’t rich, but the texture was great. I don’t know how well it went with the fish though. I think it looked nice, but was more of a side.

Ishiyaki Risotto 4/6

  • Risotto of seared scallops, mushrooms, Iwanori seaweed served in a hot stone bowl $8.30
  • If I were to highlight another dish it would be this one. The portion and price is decent for worth it. It’s one of their most popular items as well.
  • It was more of a Korean bimbimbop than an Italian risotto to me. With the texture they were aiming for risotto, but with the execution and ingredients it was Asian.
  • They mix it at your table so there’s a little bit of a show. I usually don’t serve it right away to allow the rice to crisp up on the sides of the hot stone bowl. However in this case I think you should serve it somewhat immediately because it is supposed to be an interpretation of risotto.
  • There were 4 scallops but they were very tough. We didn’t leave it long in the stonf bowl either.
  • It was loaded with oyster and shiitake mushrooms and it alm ost tasted like cream of mushroom soup mixed with rice.
  • The rice wasn’t Arborio rice, and just that alone makes it not a risotto.

Azuki Senbei Ice Cream 3.5/6

  • Vanilla ice cream with sweet red bean paste and rice crackers $3
  • The red bean paste is the texture of peanut butter. It’s not too s weet or syrupy, which surprisingly I liked better. (I don’t like red bean ever).
  • The rice crackers are awesome! I thought it was honeycomb until I remembered they were rice crackers. They’re a little salty and it doesn’t bother me because you c ouldn’t even tell. It was a great idea.

Crème Brulee 2/6

  • With a twist…caramelized right in front of you! $3 (Description from the menu)
  • This was just a regular crème brulee unlike the super ex otic gourmet one I had at CinCin’s.

  • At Toratatsu they do the blow torching right at your table so that’s kind of fun. They also pour some sake on it and light it up last minute before serving. I couldn’t taste it though…it’s very little.

  • The crème brulee had a tofu like texture and it’s not very sweet. It was very standard, but the show was fun. The burnt sugar on top was a bit uneven, but for $3 + a show, I won't be picky.
Green Tea
  • They charge for Matcha powder green tea....that was not impressive.
  • I expected actual green tea leaves if I'm going to be paying for my tea.

Toratatsu on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 28, 2009

Breka Bakery

Restaurant: Breka Bakery

Cuisine: Bakery/Desserts
Last visited: December 17, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC (South Vancouver/Fraser)
6533 Fraser Street
Price Range
$10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3
Service: 2
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 2.5
Additional comments:

  • European bakery specializing in European desserts
  • Open 24/7
  • Savoury cafe foods available
  • Breads made fresh daily from scratch, by hand
  • Halla Bread on Fridays
  • On site bakery
  • Organic free-trade coffee
  • Cheap, pretty big pieces
  • For best results: let desserts thaw to room temperature before eating
  • Busy, good for coffee breaks/studying
  • Relaxed/casual atmosphere
  • Eat in/Take-out
  • Whole cakes for sale
  • Breads to go

**Recommendation: Poppy seed tart, but apparently chocolate mousse cake and cheesecakes are popular, but I didn’t try them

After narrowing down our choices for late night dessert around Burnaby (which was nothing but bubble tea places)…my fellow foodies Kim (I’m Only Here For the Food) and Anita (La Petite Foodie) trekked out to South Vancouver to try Breka Bakery.

I love dessert and we get along very well. I spent some time in Europe researching out the most authentic and traditional desserts, so I come trying Breka Bakery with some knowledge. I’m also blessed with great friends so I’ve been lucky enough to have tried home baked European desserts too. The style of desserts at Breka Bakery is denser than they are light and delicate. They were more Eastern European than Western and they had a bit of American flair to them. I only tried 3 desserts at Breka so I really need to try more to give a better review.

I’ve heard of Breka Bakery before but the reviews for it were only okay. I knew it was a 24 hour place so it’s not like I was expecting oompa loompas in the back making desserts 24/7. However I was expecting very homemade style desserts, but they were actually quite professional, but not gourmet professional. They were grocery store professional. Just standardized and very mass

produced looking – maybe it was the way they were all laid out in sheet pans in the display case. When I see desserts like this I can’t help but to think how long it’s been sitting there for. Next time I will go in the morning because I think it would have been better.

I think it’s popular and well-liked mainly for its portion and price. For the price you pay it does the job and settles the sweet tooth. It's not the best, but for the area and for what you get, it's fine. I wish they had more options - they have a lot, but only 4 things made me "ooh" and "ahh"...and I LOVE dessert (if I haven’t made that clear ;)). I was expecting at least 8 things to make me do that.

On the table:

Poppy Square 4/6

  • A poppy seed square or tart with poppy seed filling $2.50
  • This was my choice. I love poppy seed! The more the better and this one had lots of poppy seed. I've had variations of this, but this is the most poppy seed filling I've seen used. Which is fine by me! The poppy seed filling was sweet but not too sweet - a little nutty, very moist and paste-like. It’s soft and smooth yet it's poppy seeds so there's texture.
  • It’s made of poppy seed, sugar and butter and there is also a very subtly tang and I'm 99% sure there's lemon juice in there giving it that tang. It's not sour though. I wish they used some zest too. There may also be some honey to round it all out.
  • Let it thaw out to room temperature and the flavour really comes through.
  • The crust was more of a cake-like crust rather than pie crust, which I liked. It was soft, moist and buttery almost like pound cake, yet sturdy enough to hold the heavy poppy seed filling. It was actually a tad salty too, it worked with the filling. I really liked the thinness of the crust. For this dessert in particular I prefer lots of filing with little crust anyways.
  • On top was a soft cake-like lattice top with a sugar syru p and lemon glaze to make it shiny.

Tiramisu 2/6

  • Tiramisu Square $3.50

  • I didn't like that it was precut. I felt as though it was more of a cake than a tiramisu. It was very dense and not light and fluffy. More cheesy and heavier on the mascarpone than it was creamy, but maybe it just needed to thaw.
  • The lady fingers could have been more soaked because they were a bit dry and I also couldn’t taste any rum. It just lacked flavour.
  • I didn’t like that there was only one layer of lady fingers and the bottom layer was a cake layer. I felt like this was cheating because a tiramisu should always have 2 layers of tightly packed lady fingers. I also liked them more tightly packed together in a layer, rather than spread out. I like to have a bite of lady finger cookies in every bite.
  • Lots of cream but it was sturdy cream. Wh at this means is that you could slice into it and pull away with a clean knife.

Lemon Custard Bar 2/6

  • Lemon Custard Bar $2.25
  • This one was dense and sweet and the lemon custard wasn’t as creamy. They do call it a bar rather than a tart so maybe the lemon custard was supposed to be more solid. It could have been the fact that it was sitting in a chilled display case so it was a bit stiff.
  • The flavour of the lemon custard was a bit sweet and I think it could have beeen more tart. It was a radioactive yellow, so I’m not sure if it was from a little dye.
  • The crust was a shortbread crust and it was very buttery and cookie like. I liked the thinness of crust because it made the bar lighter in texture overall. It needed that because the lemon custard was already dense.
  • I’ve had better before, and just thought this was ok, kind of boring and just ‘whatever’ for a lack of a better term.

Breka Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brioche Urban Baking & Catering

Photo courtesy of

Restaurant: Brioche Urban Baking and Catering – Panini review

Cuisine: Italian/Bakery/Sandwiches
Last visited: December 17, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC (Gastown/Downtown)
401 W Cordova St
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4 (based on Panini only)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Located in Gastown
  • Catering /Restaurant/Bakery
  • Authentic Italians meets West Coast
  • Quality meats & cheese, fresh ingredients
  • Large menu: soup/salad/sandwiches/pastas
  • Large selection of pastries
  • Healthy/Vegetarian/Carnivore options
  • Homemade/homestyle
  • Casual gourmet café type foods (does that make sense?)
  • On site bakery
  • Freshly baked daily bread/pastries
  • Cozy/Casual/Eclectic atmosphere/clientele
  • Good for breakfast/lunch/coffee breaks
  • Very decent prices for what you’re getting
  • Open until 7pm M-F 6pm on weekends
  • Eat in/Take-out

**Recommendation: Chorizo Sausage Panini, Ham, Portobello & Brie Panini. The popular Panini sandwiches are: NY Steak & Mushroom Sauce Panini and the Prosciutto, Bocconcini & Tomato Panini – but I haven’t tried the NY Steak & Mushroom one

The reason why I didn’t rate Brioche Urban Baking & Catering on their service, ambiance or overall is because my friend Kim ( had gotten take-out for me and Anita ( so I wasn’t physically there for the entire experience. I also only tried their Panini sandwiches so this review focuses strictly on those. I tried 3 out of 10 Panini sandwiches so I think that’s enough to get a general idea…although I will be back for the NY Steak and Mushroom Sauce one. I didn’t know that this was a popular item until afterward.

Brioche is a pretty small operation nestled in Gastown. It’s a humble location that’s a local favourite. For the size of it, I’m really surprised with how much they do. They offer plenty of breakfast, lunch and pastry options and it’s hard to believe that they can afford to bake everything daily. It offers casual dining, but gourmet style café-like foods. For me it was very simple recipes, made with high quality ingredients and a focus on fresh. The menu is kind of big and they offer everything from Vegetarian dishes, low-fat, to hearty game options.

Since I wasn’t actually there to ask my usual questions, I actually ended up calling Brioche and speaking with their chef to get some answers. Yes – I take my blogging that seriously now…I just want to give a thorough review. This won’t affect my overall review because again my notes were written before speaking to them. They don’t know who I am anyways and it’s already been a week since trying them.

What I did discover is that the chef, Eduardo lived in Sicily for 20 years so he does incorporate authentic Italian flavors into his recipes. The menu really is Italian meets West Coast. I feel like it’s a battle for him to focus on the healthy (West-coast) yet be able to incorporate those heavy Italian flavours people love.

The Brioche Urban Baking & Catering Panini:

Brioche serves a really West Coast version of a Panini sandwich. It was more like a toasted baguette sandwich. A Panini is an Italian sandwich and a traditional one is usually served on a small bread roll. (However small in Italy is never that small). These Panini sandwiches weren’t reminiscent of the ones I had in Italy although it’s not to say that they weren’t good – just different and not authentic Italian.

The authentic part was the focus on quality meats and fresh cheese. The non-authentic part was the bread. I do love how it’s baked fresh daily however the ‘baguette’ they use is more like a Ciabatta style baguette. They’re rustic, dense baguettes with a hard exterior and chewy centre. They’re the thick ones, not the thinner French baguettes. They make them well, but an authentic Italian Panini roll is supposed to use undercooked bread. It should be a smooth undercooked roll and not a Ciabatta because Ciabatta’s bake up too hard during the Panini grilling process. The bread is supposed to be undercooked and finish cooking on the grill.

The choice of bread may be part of the West Coast influence, I’m not sure. Yes, the bread is good, but for their Panini I think something thinner and softer would showcase their high quality meats and fresh cheeses better.

On the table:

**Chorizo Sausage Panini 4.5/6

  • Specialty Panini: Chorizo sausage, lettuce, tomato, avocado & Bocconcini $8.95
  • The avocado and Bocconcini is an option they have for their specialty Panini – I really recommend it.
  • I’m not even a big chorizo or sausage fan, but this one really impressed me. The quality of the chorizo was really high and it had a spicy kick to it too. It was a bit oily, but I guess it usually is; they were really generous with it too.
  • The avocado part is definitely the West Coast influence to a tradition Italian sandwich.
  • It was semi-mashed avocado and I wish they were more generous with this part. It ended up being overpowered by the chorizo, although it was the perfect amount of meat. They just didn’t give enough avocado.
  • The bread was ok for me. I think this was a whole wheat bread we ordered it with. Order this Panini with a sliced bread rather than a baguette/ciabatta because a sliced bread absorbs the flavours of the chorizo, whereas the baguette wouldn’t have done that as well. It also wasn’t grilled long enough. It wasn’t even really grilled – it was more lightly toasted.

Prosciutto, Bocconcini & Tomato Panini 3.5/6

  • Premium Panini: Prosciutto, Bocconcini, tomato & lettuce $6.75
  • We had this on a baguette, and I think the Focaccia would have been a better mach. The baguette was toasted, but not long enough and it grilled up a bit unevenly. I do love the fact that they drizzled olive oil on the baguette before toasting it. They don’t use butter here.
  • They were very generous with the prosciutto which was great.
  • The Bocconcini was good, but too mild for this sandwich. I think I would have preferred it with a goat’s feta or something a bit stronger to compliment the Prosciutto.
  • I had a couple flavours of savoury going on. But I wanted either a tang or a sweet note. I would have liked it with a drizzle of balsamic glaze or with something sweet like honey, or both. For the sweet, some cantaloupe slices would have been nice…but this is just me getting creative now.
  • It would have been great with some freshly chopped basil leaves too. Brighten the flavours up a bit and give it another dimension of flavour. Or they could have sprinkled some dried oregano on the bread before toasting it. Dundarave Olive Company in West Vancouver makes olive oils that would be a perfect match.

**Ham, Portobello & Brie Panini 4.5/6

  • Ham, Portobello, Brie, lettuce and tomato $6.75
  • The Ciabatta worked well with this sandwich. I know the picture shows the bread looking a bit thick, but the fat from the brie melted into the Ciabatta which made it softer and absorb the creaminess.
  • They gave a nice amount of meat and cheese for this. A perfect ratio.
  • There was not enough mushrooms though. We all shared and I think I had one slice of mushroom in my 1/3 of the sandwich.
  • I really liked this one because it had salty brie, salty black forest ham, and then what should have been sweet and juicy plump mushrooms…too bad I only had a bite of that.
  • I want to try ordering this one with chicken instead of ham…I think that would be a great combo. Chicken, brie and mushrooms...and then a nap afterward…

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