A foodie tour featuring Michelle Ng touring Granville Street (see slideshow)
Before Mike and I got the invitation from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association to visit the restaurants on Granville Street, I had never heard of a Foodie Tour before. What happens on a Foodie Tour? A group of people embark on a 2-hour walking tour of neighbourhood restaurants, spending about 15-30 minutes in each restaurant, trying samples of a few signature dishes, talking to the restaurant owner and getting some information on the restaurant and what is offered. The tours conducted by the friendly and energetic Michelle Ng (who is just beginning her new business as a foodie tour specialist) are currently held in Downtown Vancouver, Richmond, and on Granville Street.
Last Friday we attended the Granville Foodie Tour, getting a taste of some of the culinary offerings from some fine restaurants starting in Vancouver's Downtown South neighbourhood. All together we visited seven restaurants, starting at Twisted Fork Bistro at 4:30 sharp! At each stop we learned a bit about the restaurant, and sometimes were offered up to three items to sample (often with a refreshing summer cocktail!) and then you're off to the next stop.
It was good to see that there is a real trend towards using fresh, organic and locally grown ingredients. At The Refinery – our second stop – we learned that mixologist Lauren Mote makes her own homemade bitters, which she distills from fresh fruits, roots and herbs, and which she uses to create unique cocktails. What they prepared was a completely decadent and delicious egg deep fried and placed on a crispy wafer. This breakfast confection is one of the restaurant's biggest hits.
After The Refinery, we headed over to The Edge Social Grille & Lounge, which offers fine-casual dining inside or out on the patio. We had a delicious sampling of flatbread with beef tenderloin and blue cheese, flatbread with smoked salmon and goat cheese, a shooter of grilled vegetable gazpacho, chocolate and Van Gogh espresso vodka truffles and white sangria. It was difficult to finish everything, as we had to rush off to our next stop!
The Granville Room is a funky lounge-bar, which serves 2 oz cocktails and features electro, funk and lounge DJ's after 10PM on Fridays and Saturdays. Our cocktail was a refreshing watermelon and vodka martini.
Next up we went for Japanese at the ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro. There is an extensive sake menu, and Master Chef Masahiro Omori has created a menu that allows food and sake pairings, which is the restaurant's specialty! Many of us had never tasted such fresh and inventive Japanese cuisine as this – it was definitely flagged as a must visit for us again.
Speaking of pairings, at our next stop we were treated to wine pairings with our food samples. Culinaria Restaurant, operated by the Art Institute of Vancouver, provided a Sandhill Pinot Blanc to pair with crab ravioli and smoked salmon sauce, and a Cedar Creek Pinot Noir to pair with duck confit and szechuan pepper jus. We just love it when restaurants bring out BC's best wines to pair with fine dishes as these. To finish, chocolate decadence!
Although we were quite full by now, our last stop was a newly opened bakery, Crème de la Crumb. Freshly baked mini-scones, carrot cake with vanilla bean cream cheese icing and cinnamon buns greeted us here. How could we resist? Everything is freshly made every morning by chef and co-owner Lydia Lai. I know I will be coming back soon for more treats here.
Michelle Ng is a fabulous host. We would really like to take her Richmond foodie tour, featuring all Asian cuisine. It starts about five minutes walk from a Canada Line station. Michelle's new website is under construction, and will be available at www.foodietour.ca.
- post by Stacey