Dough Zone | Dining in Vancouver

We are thrilled to say that there is another worthy dumpling spot on the map! Not only has Din Tai Fung become a huge sensation in North America, but now we have another contender: Dough Zone. Located in Bellevue, Washington, Dough Zone offers a menu filled with tasty options and more than just delicious dumplings. They are known for their noodles: Rice noodles with minced pork, Dandan noodle, and even beef-stew noodle soup! Oh, and their Q-baos are a MUST! Speedy service and be sure to get your spot in line early! There's always a massive wait but it's worth it!

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The Laughing Gravy | Dining in London

One night in London, we decided to scout a spot to grab a bite to eat before seeing an off-broadway show (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead - which you must see!) We turned on our Google Maps app, typed in "restaurants near me" and voilà! The Laughing Gravy was where we found ourselves, quickly serving us with a cocktail and an impressive menu for a restaurant and bar. The food was outstanding - flavours were all there, the variety offered on the menu was plenty and cocktails were on par - talk about a hidden gem in London! Michael Facey, chef of The Laughing Gravy, presents each dish with finesse and full of flavour. The lamb braised dumplings were thin skinned (which is like a HUGE plus because who likes thick skinned dumplings, really?) and very juicy. The entrée duck and lamb were fabulous, cooked to perfection and each jus were a great touch to both dishes. To top it off, talk about a huge surprise with dessert!! Pineapple upside down cake with a coconut parfait on a coconut sponge with pineapple custard and vanilla ice cream - HEAVEN! The flavour of the coconut with the textures of the slices of pineapples, parfait and sponge... it was just a wow dessert. 

To the Laughing Gravy, thank you so much for graciously hosting us. We will definitely be back!

Food: Cocktail of the day was a Champagne special, Braisde lamb with wild garlic infused dumplings, kidney bean purée and lamb broth, Duck breast, Lamb and croquette, Pineapple upside down cake, coconut sponge, coconut parfait and pineapple custard with vanilla ice cream
Made by: The Laughing Gravy
Location: 154 Blackfriars Road, London

The Helm | Dining in Greenwood Lake, New York

Talk about a hidden gem in upstate New York. The Helm is a fun place for all to enjoy good food, beer and cocktails. There's even a bar for those who want to watch their desired team whilst enjoying a local craft beer. Nothing to write home about on decor but it's a quaint dining room with great lighting and partial view of Greenwood Lake. Specials are always written up during the week and their brunch is definitely one of a kind. The portions are definitely hefty but can be enjoyed by all - it's more fun to go with more than just two people so you can try all their foods. Enjoy their poutine with truffle or Cajun poutine, and their smoked wings which you can get with any of four flavours and they offer They smoke their own meat - in the parking lot! The cocktails are handcrafted and their selection of local beers are many to choose from.  Go for the obnoxious Chicken and Waffles - deep fried chicken, on top of a chorizo patty, which is all on top of a waffle - and to top that off, a fried egg! Insane? We should hope so! It's a fantastic spot to dine, so be sure to spend some time at The Helm!

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Food: Cajun Poutine, Truffle Poutine, Smoked Chicken Wings, Champagne Margarita Cocktail, Corn Biscuits with Chorizo Patties, Chicken and Waffles - Deep fried chicken on a crispy waffle, bacon, chorizo patty, and a fried egg with maple syrup and hot sauce to top it off!
Made by: The Helm
Location: 649 Jersey Ave., Greenwood Lake, New York

Etto | Dining in Dublin

A fantastic spot in Dublin, Etto serves great food in its cozy restaurant. This was a place recommended by my friend, Diala Canelo (who by the way has a fantastic blog, be sure to follow her on social media!). Etto had fresh ingredients that were well prepared and they have a great cocktail menu too. The choices are different between lunch time service and dinner. It's a great place to share your plates and enjoy a bottle of wine if your heart desires. 

The panna cotta was my absolute favourite dish both times I went when I was in Dublin last year (yes I tried lunch AND dinner - you had to!) 

They do deals for 2 courses and 3 courses for lunch time. A new menu almost every day.

Highly recommend this gem if you ever find yourself in Dublin. This is for foodies. 

Food: Vitello Tonnato, Cheese Croquette, Cheese Salad, Cold Cuts, Rabbit ravioli, Rabbit ragout pappardelle, Rhubarb pistachio panna cotta. 
Made by: Etto
Location: 18 Merrion Row, Dublin 2

Chambar | Dining in Vancouver

If you're looking for a great place for brunch, lunch and dinner, well Chambar is one of the many options in Vancouver. It's great for those who are about to see a show at Rogers Arena, as it's just minutes away from the restaurant. Perfect for cocktails and a great meal.

The menu isn't always changing but it's definitely always consistent with their flavours and service.

The restaurant had a huge makeover - and I mean enormous, as it's now got a huge patio and two floors to the public.

The old fashion is always a great drink at Chambar, as well as their seasonal cocktails that they offer. The frites are real yummy with the aioli that it comes with. With a French influence throughout the cuisine, mussels are always a staple at this restaurant. There seems to always be a duck dish whenever I go, and that's exactly what I get. This one particular time, they served the best cherry clafoutis I've had... it was to die for.

There are plenty of small plates for sharing as well, like the shrimp you see below in a delicate sauce. Overall, the menu is filled with choices for everyone and their tastebuds.

Marukame | Dining in Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu

If you’re looking for a quick fix of udon, and you’ve found yourself in Waikiki Honolulu, Marukame is THE place to go. An array of udon bowls and tempura to choose from, Marukame serves the best tasting udon in the area. The texture of the noodles is unlike any other (of course if you go to Japan I’m sure you will find even more yummier noodles, but we’re keeping it real in Honolulu).

When you see the crazy long line up outside the door, don’t be alarmed as it actually goes by real quick. The way it works is like a canteen: you line up, pick your meal, pick your tempura, and pick your sides. Finally you’ll reach the cash register and then find a seat to enjoy your udon. The tempura is fantastic – crispy, crunchy and tasty. You can choose from veggies to prawn to an assortment and more. There are so many options for noodles: bukkake (cold), curry, ontama (egg) bukkake, and more. The one you see in the picture is Kamaage udon, where the noodles have come straight out of the boiler and doesn’t go through any cooling process. This makes the noodles have more texture – and it is delicious. It’s served with a bukkake sauce but it’s hot. There is so much flavour from the sauce that it adds to the noodles perfectly. Beware, it is a BIG bowl of noodles – but under $4 if I remember correctly! I can never get enough of udon, so this portion was perfect.

And the best part? The sides. I think this is where I had the best tasting spam musubi.  You can choose from other musubis too but nothing beats their spam musubi. You have to at least try it once in your life – you have no idea what you’re missing. The spam is marinated in I guess their secret marinade… not sure what is in it but I have never tasting any other spam musubi like it.

You can get all this for a seriously good price. Be sure to head to Marukame if you’re in the area!! 

Food: Kaggame Udon, Shrimp Tempura and Spam Musubi
Made by: Marukame
Location: 2310 Kuhio Ave, Suite 124, Honolulu, HI

The Sardine Can | Vancouver Restaurants

Happy New Year!

What a great start in the restaurant world - I finally got to try The Sardine Can in Gastown here in Vancouver.

Known for their spanish tapas, I was very impressed by the level of cuisine that was presented. It really brought me back memories of when I have been in Barcelona. The Gambas was to die for - the sauce was a revelation!! Could not stop dipping my patatas in the sauce... The baked burrata special was so creamy and soft. Wrapped in a ham, it was fantastic to spread on a piece of toast with a prune compote to go with it. Another special served were their veal cheek and potatoes stuffed empanadas - talk about holy yum! Vancouverites: you seriously need to get yourselves to The Sardine Can.

The restaurant is also owned by renown chef in Vancouver, Chef Andrey Durbach and business partner Chris Stewart (La Buca, Pied à Terre, and The Abbey.) I can finally check off all four from my list!

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 Feature: The Sardine Can

Buvette | NYC

Who would have thought to stop into a cafe, on a summer's day in NYC... just about everyone. Checking out new places to eat and drink or boutiques is one of my favourite things to do while I'm in the big apple. Buvette is a little cafe on Waverly Place, that serves fantastic french cuisine. Their cocktails were what actually caught my eye on their website, as they offered classics, moderns, and completely new ones I had never heard of. My boyfriend had a refreshing cocktail made with lemons (can't entirely remember what it was but it was quite delicious). I felt like quenching my thirst after having been cooped up in the apartment and coming out into the hot and muggy city: a Pimm's Cup. It did the trick.

No reservations, but they serve all day: snacks and entrees for everyone. Feeling a little peckish, I decided to order their steak tartare. Very good! Slightly spiced and very tasty.

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner - take your pick! At around 4pm there aren't many people, but enough who are enjoying cocktails and or a light snack before dinner. You might even be able to do some celebrity spotting if you keep your eyes open!

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Enoteca Sociale

An absolute favourite. Italian, family styled dining is one of my favourites. I of course have to blog about Enoteca Sociale because a) it's definitely a number one of mine in Toronto and b) it's just so good! IMG_8637

Opened not long ago, this Enoteca has so many things working for them. They are welcoming, the service is superb and they know what they're talking about! Moreover, if you want to taste the best of italian food (or as close as you're going to get to it) with local produce, Sociale has it all. The menu has changed every time that I've been and has not failed me once. From antipastis like their house-cured meats, to their home-made pastas (which is a huge seller for me), everything is delicious.

The last time I went I got to enjoy bone marrow - decadent and so worth it - as well as various pasta dishes from spaghetti to ravioli... Pork chop was another entrée that I got to taste (simple dish but juicy nonetheless).IMG_8638

That evening, a sticky toffee pudding (the best in Toronto might I add), a lemon pudding, and a butter tart with a chocolate filling was offered on the menu.

I highly recommend Enetoca Sociale, but make sure you make reservations WELL in advanced (I usually book at least two weeks in advanced!) Enjoy!

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Al Fresco Restaurante Italiano

Al Fresco was such a wonderful experience. Sitting on the patio, enjoying sangria and pasta... with the sun shining, nothing beats Lisbon during the summer. If you're a foodie, well this is a great spot for you!

Below, we have the appetizer of an egg, lightly battered and fried on top of greens, with a side of mushrooms.  The sangria was very refreshing especially in the heat, but as our entrées we kept it hot. We enjoyed vongole (clams in white sauce with linguine) and a creamy mushroom pasta. Lastly, we enjoyed a specialty of the restaurant: a Zabaione, which consists of egg whites, sugar, and a sweet wine (like that of Moscato d'Asti). It's the consistency of a light custard. Very rich, but definitely a must try. If you want to see more of Al Fresco's creations, click here to get to their Facebook page. Bom apetite!

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