Showing posts with label rice pudding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice pudding. Show all posts

St. Lawrence Restaurant (Vancouver)


Eating at a French-Canadian restaurant in Vancouver seemed like a waste of a meal. But after hearing about all of St. Lawrence Restaurant’s accolades - #5 on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list and being crowned best new restaurant in 2018 by multiple publications – it also seemed imperative I visit a place that delighted Canada’s west coast. I envisioned a glutinous meal that would make us feel sick like Au Pied de Couchon, but thankfully found a more restrained offering that was hearty yet didn’t leave me clutching my stomach.

St. Lawrence offers a rotating prix fixe menu that changes roughly monthly and during our June visit happened to be a 5th Anniversary special ($85 for three courses) highlighting a mix of past favourites, traditional French offerings, and special dishes the chef wanted to whip up.

To start off, our table shared warm buckwheat rolls with a delicate pork spread, which was barely enough to smear onto the bread and left us wanting more. Our waitress warned us not to use the foie gras custard as a condiment since it is best eaten solo. Indeed, it’s like a decadent savoury and sweet panna cotta where the silky creamy custard is enhanced with crispy crumbs.

The height of the vol-au-vent puff pastry was astonishing, the hollow flaky pastry filled with pea sprouts that added a fresh element against the mushroom mornay sauce. Such a lovely quintessential French dish that forms the only vegetarian offering on their menu, not counting desserts.

We would have liked more chips for the bison tartar – it’s as if the had reached the bottom of the bag and threw on the final broken ones that were left – as the crunch goes so nicely with the delicate tartar. Nonetheless, the flavours were on point, enhancing but not overpowering the bison, and the creamy béarnaise sauce a great addition.

St. Lawrence smartly left the orange “jus” separated from the duck ballotine as to not cover the lovely duck flavours also pairing the fowl with a savoury citrus less sauce. The orange segments were ideal for cleansing the palette against the chunks of rich meat. If you’re in the mood for a substantial French main, this one will hit the spot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trout à la dieppoise, which was an ideal dish to highlight French-Canadian fare using fresh B.C. ingredients like the fish and side stripe shrimp. The seafood was delicately poached with not a speck of skin or shell remaining, so that each bite was merely covered with the white wine cream sauce. On the bottom, the various greens soaked in the last of the sauce to create a decadent warm salad.

This being my first experience tasting tarte au sucre, the dessert reminded me of a firmer butter tart without the runny centre. The fluffy vanilla cream and crunchy shortbread covering the sugar tart added a beautiful touch without any more sweetness. Overall, it’s a delicious and surprisingly light dessert.

St. Lawrence’s rice pudding tasted like airy sweet cream, the fluffy pudding a great consistency but the rice too hard. If the grains were only cooked longer, it’d help create a creamier concoction to better contrast with the crunchy pecans and salted caramel.

Reservations are pre-paid through Tock, and spots are limited given the restaurant’s diminutive size. In fact, they even created a slim high-top for two in the waiting area to allow those who are waiting to mingle or host those who want to converse longer after their meal is finished.

The intimate environment creates a warm casual feel, despite St. Lawrence’s beautifully plated cuisine. I’m glad we could tuck into lovely French creations without the pomp and circumstance. So, leave your ties behind and just arrive comfortably with an empty belly. 


Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Vancouver, Canada
 Address: 269 Powell Street


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (London)

Location: London, England
Address: 53 Park Lane (in the Dorchester Hotel)
Website: http://www.alainducasse-dorchester.com/
Type of Meal: Lunch



Alain Ducasse embodies luxury with beautifully set tables (complete with a private one behind a curtain of gemstones), attentive service (someone greets you in the lobby and guides you to the washrooms to ensure you find them) and the mountain of warm gougères brought out as soon as you sit down.  After all, you wouldn’t want your guests going hungry between ordering and getting bread!  We couldn’t stop ourselves from gorging on these delicious light-as-air cheese puffs while browsing through the menu and admiring the beautiful place settings.



A special lunch menu (£55) is offered Tuesday to Friday that includes three courses, two glasses of wine (chosen from 2012 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Blanc, 2010 Laurent Tribut Chablis, 2007 Domaine Montirius Vacqueyras Les Closes or 2008 Château Bernadotte Haut- Médoc), ½ bottle of mineral water and coffee or tea.
Aside from the gougères, you’re offered a selection from a brimming bread basket including mini baguettes, olive bread, bacon brioche, twists and many others I can’t remember.  The trend of excess continues on – would you like salted butter, unsalted butter or cream cheese blended with whipped cream for your bread?
Afterwards, a metallic egg shaped dish arrives filled with a cold tomato gelee topped with a chive and sour cream sorbet and bits of shallots (?).  It was simple yet refreshing and invigorated the taste buds from the previous carbs. 

My starter was on the heavier side with the deconstructed croque-madame. Slices of toasted brioche topped with finely diced ham and aged cheese were the perfect size to dip into the warm, creamy, cheesy, runny scrambled egg mixture served in cute eggshells.  The dish was a cheese extravaganza; even the small dish of salad had a generous serving of it! Alain Ducasse certainly took this comfort food classic and added a touch of elegance and flair to it.    

My husband loved his chestnut velouté with snails, which is essentially a thicker soup. It was the sweet and salty combination that I’m not a fan of.  Even so, I had a taste and the creamy chowder consistency chestnut soup along with plump snails was decent.   

His main of beef made and served in a cookpot, a signature cooking method of Mr. Ducasse, was absolutely delicious with the delicate slices of tender beef layered with various root vegetables.  Having been braised slowly, all the juices condensed down to a flavourful sauce that was absolutely wonderful.  I wouldn’t have expected a “fancy” restaurant to serve such a hearty dish (and such a large portion as well).

For my main, I could not pass up the lobster and crab squid ink cannelloni; anything that has lobster in it immediately gets my attention!  The pasta was a thin tube containing tons of the lobster and crab mixture within.  The filling was smooth but still held up its shape and had noticeable bits of the lobster strewn throughout.  Overall, although not the most memorable dish, was still delectable.  Honestly, it’s really hard for it to stand out compared to all the strongly flavoured dishes previously served. But, sometimes your taste buds need a bit of a break and enjoy the naturalness of the seafood essence.

By now I’m absolutely stuffed and thankful that there’s only one more dish to go.  Thinking the contemporary vacherin may be the lightest option, I go with it.  Scoops of strawberry and champagne sorbet appear in a vibrant green bowl with medallions of meringues, thinly sliced dried strawberries and raspberry puree.  The dessert was a well-balanced dessert of sweetness & tartness and smoothness & crunch.


 
Despite not being able to finish my own dessert, I had to try a spoon of my husband’s passion fruit rice pudding.  It was an interesting combination of the traditional rich and creamy pudding with the tartness of the fruit. After the copious amount of food ingested earlier, I found the rice to be a bit heavy. 


To finish off the meal, I ordered a green tea in hopes of aiding in digestion.  But then, with our tea & coffee arrived a bowl of macarons, a dish of cocoa powder covered almonds, candies of caramels & nougats and a platter of chocolates!  Most restaurants offer a selection of petit fours, but Alain Ducasse’s offering brought it to a whole new level.  I had a small bite of the macarons (delicate and moist but a bit sweet), an almond (a good contrast of bitterness) and nougat (so soft and delicious).  There was no way I could taste them all (sorry chocolates and caramels), but was wonderful that so many choices were offered.

The lunch hour menu at Alain Ducasse is the embodiment of extravagance and overindulgence and perfect for a special occasion.  Indeed, their location is ideal with the beautiful Hyde Park beside it and set in a luxury hotel; after all, right after this meal all you want to do is have a lazy stroll and then take a nap.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!





Momofuku Noodle Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 190 University Avenue
Website: http://momofuku.com/toronto/noodle-bar-to/
Type of Meal: Dinner

The Momofuku ramen ($15) was good contrary to most reviews - chewy noodles and flavourful salty broth. Indeed it didn't taste that much better than what you can purchase at other ramen restaurants, but certainly wasn't bad. The egg was different, poached rather than hard boiled, however somewhat ruins the broth as it quickly mixes into it and I’d prefer the broth clear.
Momofuku ramen
I wish the Toronto location would have the spicy chicken ramen being offered in NYC; I found the pork belly accompanying the noodles to be too similar to what you get with the pork bao. Perhaps, Momofuku should consider offering a plain version (no proteins) and allowing customers to customize their ramen by paying for additional "side" choices - essentially using the pork belly, chicken, chicken wings, kimchi, etc. that they already serve.

What I miss most is the shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice powder) that you normally get at Toronto and Japan restaurants that you can sprinkle into your bowl.  Something about that bright orange MSG powder screams ramen to me!

In my opinion, the pork bao ($10) is more original although not recommended to health obsessed individuals. Two slices of fatty pork belly wrapped in a soft sweet white bread smeared with sweet hoisin sauce, boiled cucumber slices and fresh scallions, undeniably a decadent bun. I’d like to see how the bao would taste if the pork belly skin was crispy - I think it'd provide a nice contrast to all the soft ingredients and also set the bao apart from the Momofuku ramen's pork belly. If you like Peking duck from Shanghainese restaurants you will likely enjoy these.







Pork bao

I didn’t have it myself, but my husband advises the chicken bao ($9) was good.  Made with shredded chicken with pieces of crispy skin, likely what’s used in the chicken and rice dish, it’s similarly wrapped in the soft white bun and flavour with hoisin sauce. 

Chicken bao

The chicken and egg rice ($15) sounds uninspiring but is still decent.  Sticky Japanese rice with teriyaki sauce and the same soft poached egg in the ramen, it’s a relatively safe option for those who may not like the fattiness of the other dishes.  I did like the poached egg in this dish as it breaks and mixes in to coat the rice. The chicken was tender and had a great flavourful crispy skin.

Chicken and rice

Two items that was not on their website’s menu being offered that night included:
  • Very spicy noodles ($12) – unlike their chilled spicy noodles this is warm and vegetarian.  I had a bite and it was very spicy!  Luckily, it comes with cucumbers and scallions which help to calm down the heat.

  • Clams with vermicelli ($18) – very different from other dishes which is nice after having so many similar items.  The the vermicelli is pan fried so that the top part is crispy and becomes a noodle cake – similar to the crispy yellow Cantonese chow mein.  Compared to the ramen, the dish is a bit bland as the sauce covering the noodles isn’t flavourful enough.  If there was a bit more clam juices to soak into the vermicelli it should taste better.  But, there was a fair portion of clams that were cooked perfectly.

For sides we tried the smoked chicken wings ($12), glazed with teriyaki sauce, then baked (?) and finished off with a sprinkling of scallions. I like the freshness of scallion but other than that it’s nothing you couldn't make yourself quite easily.  The kimchi ($6) arrived in a mini mason jar and was actually a pretty decent sized portion.  The kimchi is fresh and crispy, not overly fermented, nonetheless not spicy enough for my taste.

Chicken wings

To end the meal we tried their rice pudding ($6) which is very thick and not too sweet.  I love when you mix in the watery caramel sauce in the bottom of the jar into the mixture.  We also had the chocolate mousse ($7) with crispy rice; rich tasting and certainly meant to be shared. 


Overall, Momofuku is good and I'd say serves tasty Westernized versions of Japanese, Korean and Chinese dishes. There wasn't a dish I didn't like that meal.  At the same time, I didn't experience a excuse me while I close my eyes and drool moment, so if there's a line-up I'd go somewhere else.  One day will try the other two Momofuku restaurants; hopefully, these will be more inspiring.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
For further general discussions about this blog please refer to http://gastroworldblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-to-gastro-world.html