Chocolate Arts Cafe

Snowball's Chance in Hell's Fire

I am back again for their hot chocolate this year.  Last year I got to try the Amour (raspberry drinking chocolate), then I said to myself I will revisit again next year for chocolate festival so here I am again.

Their hot chocolate name caught my eye when I was browsing through the hot chocolate festival website: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell’s Fire. Wow what a dramatic name then I wondered what it was so I had to order it.

It was served in a bowl, yes in a bowl which is a little big bigger than a Chinese rice bowl. In the center there is a cold cold chocolate ice cream ball with a little bit of hot chocolate they pour for you and also provide some on the side. In comparison to the Thierry’s ice cream hot chocolate I felt this is much better. Reason? It stays hot! The hot chocolate they serve is pipping hot, which is great!

The ice cream is stayed intact unless you went to stir it. But I loved the spicy chili powder that comes at the end! Just a little bit (but at the bottom and you drink up then it’ll hit you).

Maybe it is time to switch over from Thierry…. :P

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Euro Bagel Cafe

It was a Saturday morning looking for a brunch place for coffee and sandwiches, so we ended up on Commercial Drive. With the name of little Italy, Commercial Drive is full of cafes that sells delicious sandwiches and coffee. Then I found this place, nothing special about the entrance and looks a little outdated. But I am so happy I walked into and gave it a try.

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What a cute café, mimicking an European café with different flags and signs and lamp posts in the restaurants. With lots of vintage look oil canvas, chalk board menu etc, their decoration gave the name Euro Bagel Café its true meaning.

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At first I thought it was those you order first then you take a seat type of self serve café but the owner came out and asked us to sit down and gave us a menu. Then we ordered:

 

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Bagelwich Florentine – Two eggs, spinach, tomato & cream cheese

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Bagels are soft!!! Nothing very stiff and hard to tear (similar to Timmy’s bagel) but this one is so soft! Almost like bread. Delicious egg, spinach and tomato combination and of course the magic of cream cheese. :) But I just cannot get over the soft bagel, after the first bite I told myself, I am coming back here. I am.

Crepe Turkey, Mushroom & Swiss

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Chewy crepe, similar to the Japanese convenient store in Downtown Robson. The crepe is good, I liked the perfect tender and chewiness. However I find this one salty. I know it’s not the crepe, it’s something in the filling – perhaps the cheese or turkey?? I would say overly salty.

As I was enjoying my breakfast, I notice they are quite busy. Lots of to go orders and you can also sit outside (on a sunny day).  I truly like this place, aside from the very salty ham or cheese. But it’s the atmosphere it gives when I am there. I for a slight moment felt Europe. ;) (But of course, I can’t say because I have never been. :’( ) I need to come back and try their sweet crepe perhaps with a cappuccino for an afternoon chat.

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Corner 23 Richmond

New location in Richmond Continental Plaza right at the corner where G-Ramen used to be. (Original location is across of King Edward Skytrain Station in Vancouver. As I entered the Taiwanese Bubble Tea place I noticed right away how beautiful it is renovated! Lots of mirrors and tall ceiling with beautiful lanterns on top gave it a very nice and grand feeling. It is very gorgeous for a bubble tea place.

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As I was seated, I can’t help but keep looking at the ceiling and the walls. The mirrors and lanterns! I just can’t take my eyes off of them. I absolutely loved it! But anyways, aside from pretty decorations the food is also very important.

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So here is what I ordered to share between two people:

Wan Luan Pork hock with noodle soup

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I haven’t had pork hock Chinese style in a while. There is always this rich and heavy flavours in pork hock, but along with the garlic sauce provided the flavour becomes just right. The strong garlic sauce takes away a little bit of the heavy meat flavour and worked great together. Which is also very good on rice or plain noodle to truly taste the pork hock. Pork hock is not easy to make and is very time consuming. It’s either love or hate because not many appreciate the flavour of pork hock, but if you do like it then you should come and try this out.

Stir fried Water Convolvulus – I would consider them a little ‘old’. The veggie itself is not tender enough but flavour is fine. Maybe just the veggie is not in season?

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The food is decent, like many other Taiwanese bubble tea places. But I would consider this a little better than average. But their decoration truly takes my breath away (I know I kept walking about the lanterns…. : P) It is really pretty for a bubble tea place! So even maybe just an afternoon to have a chat with a few friends with some Taiwanese snacks and bubble tea place, you can consider this. (But it is quite a small place.)

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I would come back, it’s convenient and quick. Also beautiful. :P

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Thierry

After dine out at Black & Blue, I walked across and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate (because I wasn’t really satisfied by their carrot cake :P). This is the second year I am back for their hot chocolate festival, I remember last year I tried out this rare hot chocolate is was rich, smooth and smooth. Yes I couldn’t get over how smooth their hot chocolate was, I recommend their hot chocolate to many friends because I was absolutely in love with it.

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This year they have several kinds as usual, I picked the one with ice cream in the middle. I made my friend took pictures of it getting ready as I was hogging a seat (well you know this place is 24/7 busy). An ice cream is put into a clear glass cup with a chocolate disc on top. They will then pour hot chocolate into the cup for you (which I sort of wish we would be doing that ourselves like Chocolate Arts), the presentation is just awesome. How you sort of see them putting the hot chocolate together for you.

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But I wish was that the hot chocolate was hot enough (like Bella). So I think from that brief description you can tell this hot chocolate was only moderate (or maybe I just expected a little more from Thierry). The hot chocolate was tad bit warmer than luke warm, which made the whole experience pretty bleh. Because really hot chocolate needs to be HOT.

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They serve with a little cream puff, wasn’t too sweet and is fresh cream. :9

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Oh how I missed that “One in a Million” hot chocolate from last year. :’(

Sometimes I do feel Thierry is overpriced, but late night and I want dessert and not many choices left I will choose Thierry. (But knowing the amount of people that will be there always stops me…)
Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe on Urbanspoon

SOUP

Graze

I haven’t been to a lot of western vegetarian cuisine out there, so this year Dine Out Vancouver I decided to try something new. “Graze’s all plant-based menu (including all of our wines, beers & spirits) incorporates as many locally & organically produced ingredients as possible.  Building on this foundation, we also grow our own herbs & vegetables, collect rainwater for our garden, compost our kitchen waste, reduce/reuse/recycle everything we can, support ethical suppliers, reduce our power consumption, solar heat our hot water, are very particular about our paper and cleaning products and are always looking for ways to do even more.” http://grazerestaurant.ca/ This is written on their website, and this is what sold me on trying them out.

When I first walked in their restaurant I noticed right away their beautiful wall full of people. Yes it is a giant wall with paintings of people, but it was so dark that I couldn’t take a photo of it. But you really need to look at this beautiful wall. Seriously.

They actually have quite a bit of selections for the dine out menu, each course has about 4 selections which I think is great! After we placed our order, my brother unrolled his napkin to lay out his utensils… then he saw this.

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Okay, this is quite disturbing. Knowing the napkin you were about to use has someone else’s lipstick stain on it… Maybe they tried to wash it and it didn’t come off? The waitress made a witty comment about the stain is hers. But still…. =_=  Or I am just having my luck with these dirty restaurants experience… XD

Appetizers:

Organic yam & red pepper chowder, local corn, cracked black pepper, lightly curried, smoked paprika

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Now I know this soup is suppose to have smoked paprika, but something smelled real burnt here. Don’t get me wrong the soup is great aside from the burning taste, but you know if there is burning taste in any food it is very difficult to get out of it. Because you will simply keep thinking about it over and over – it is burnt.

Salad – Salad of persimmon, pistachio and pomegranate with arugula & almond chevre

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This salad took me by surprise, there is a light tangy taste to the dressing and with the refreshing taste of persimmon at the bottom was really great combination. There are also bits of persimmon along with the salad with crunchy pistachio and almond chevre.

Winter Salad – Winter Salad of lacinato kale with roasted golden & red beets, pear & fig with toasted hazelnuts

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My mom sometimes makes kale at home but usually cooked, this time I got to eat it raw with my favourite beets. :) This is also another delicious salad. Kale is originally very tasteless with very chewy thick texture, but it was so great to be mixed with light beets, pear and fig to balance out the flavours and textures.

Entrees:

TAGLIATELLE – Yam and parsnip broad ‘noodles’ with farro cakes & saffron coconut cream sauce

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Their “noodles” are made out of very thinly sliced parsnip and yam. (Which I found amazing how they can slice them so thin.) Aside from the delicious ‘noodles’ I also adored their saffron coconut cream sauce. Oh my god it is delicious!  Although the only sad thing about this dish is that all ingredients are good, but they don’t blend. None of the flavours were able to blend and absorb into each other.

STEAK & MUSHROOMS – Tea-smoked grilled tofu steak & pepita crusted portabello, beluga lentils & porcini-red wine sauce

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I am not quite sure what is tea-smoked grilled, it was rich in flavour. But I little too heavy in my opinion, I wasn’t quite sure what I was tasting… However, the tofu steak was nice and chewy.

CREPES - Basil & chickpea crepes with marinated & grilled seasonal vegetables & organic tempeh

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The flavour of basil worked really well with the chickpea crepe, brings out the flavour of chickpeas flawlessly. However the crepes are tough, quite difficult to cut with my knife and chew on. They almost taste like overdone pancake that had been left on the grill for 3 hours….

PEROGIES   - Yam & eggplant perogies, sautéed oyster mushrooms, crispy shallots, pickled beet shred, smoky coconut cheddar sauce, spicy tomato jam

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Every since I started to see perogies selling in food trucks, it always reminded me of Chinese dumplings but except it is made of potatoe. This one is made of yam and eggplant, which gave it a lighter flavour than potatoes but sure does stuff you up quickly. The sauce for this perogies is delicious, but here comes another smoky item that also taste a little burnt. (At this point, I really question how they make anything smoky in the kitchen.)

Desserts:

You will surprise how filling all their portions are, I could barely finish my entrée and dessert seems so impossible to finish. But regardless being a sweet tooth of course I will eat the dessert. :P

Hazelnut macaroons with cardamom pear sorbet and vanilla creme

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Delicious macaroons that are not too sweet, with flaky coconut bits and light hazelnut flavour. My favourite? The sorbet, although it melted with the speed of lighting but I absolutely adore the flavour.

Cacao & rose-infused black cherry trifle layered with toasted cashew crumble
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The flavour of rose shoots out as you take every bite of this black cherry trifle. Lots of overwhelming flavour, the cheei8es, rose and chocolate with bits of chewy cashew. This dessert is not for the faint of heart, they are powerful flavours that fights with each other for your attention.
Lemon mousse filled cannoli, lavender coulis

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I have to say this was the most disappointing ‘mousse’. I know they cannot use gelatin because that would make it not vegetarian but as a baker myself I know there are many many ways to make mousse without gelatin and it will keeps its form. But this just looked like melted ice cream. The flavours are fine, they taste great but presentation is really lacking on this dessert. I almost didn’t want to eat it at all. L

Overall I think there are many better vegetarian restaurants in the lower mainland. This one is priced fairly high but not living up to its standards. There are lots of room for improvement, some of the dishes are so creative just need fine tuning.
Graze on Urbanspoon

lobster tail

Riverway Club

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Inside the Burnaby Riverway Golf Club, the restaurant has a view of the river is a very popular wedding venue in Burnaby. I have been to the driving range of this golf club but never for the clubhouse restaurant. This year for Dine Out Vancouver I have finally gave this restaurant a try. Their set dinner menu is in the medium range ($28.00 for one person), which I think for the quality and portion of food is a great value for most people.

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For appetizer I have selected the seared scallop with pork belly. Seared scallop is crusted with sesame, which I absolutely loved. I never thought about how well scallop and sesame can go together. Usually seared scallops have a nice crisp crust, but this one has an extra fragrance that comes along with the sesame. Pork belly was done well and was not overly oily or too much fat topped with crispy pear (which add a lightly refreshing taste to the pork belly).

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Another appetizer being served is lobster tail. (Really $28 set dinner that serves lobster tail as appetizer is very good value… but of course they are doing dine out; basically they do not make much money.) However I would think this is alright. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t anything exceptional about this lobster tail, yes I can taste its freshness but aside from there. But hey you get the whole lobster tail, and it is fresh so what more can you really ask for?

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Roasted prime rib seems to be a popular choice while I was there that night. I see many of them on the rest of the tables in the restaurant. I normally don’t order prime rib, but I saw this: “shitake mushroom butter sauce” :P The sauce was indeed amazing, very creamy and smooth and worked perfectly with the tender and juicy prime rib. (And the prime rib was so big that I really only ate 1/3 of it….) This dish is served with chickpea panisse, a healthier alternative to fries. If you like chickpea, you will like this. I like chickpea. :D Although it falls apart when you try to pick it up, but was so delicious with house-made tomatoe sauce.

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Their dinner includes appetizer and entrée with a choice of chocolate (dessert) buffet or a cup of tiramisu. So I ordered a tiramisu while the rest of went for the chocolate buffet.

Tiramisu is good, traditional with ladies’ fingers that have soaked lots of coffee liqueur. :9

Now if you are a chocoholic you will fall right in love with their chocolate buffet. Various of chocolate flavoured dessert for you to indulge. Chocolate mousse, chocolate cupcake, chocolate tart, chocolate ganache, chocolate cake, etc. Yes, go right ahead and get fat. I tried out a couple and they were all good desserts, this is definitely a bonus point to many chocolate lovers.

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I am not sure about their regular menu pricing, but with the dine out pricing for the portion and quality of the food this is worth a try place. I also did some research they also have some special brunch menus and promotions through until March that would give you an opportunity to try out their stuff at a great price.

Riverway Clubhouse (Riverway Golf Course) on Urbanspoon

Bella Galeteria

Now it is actually quite funny, because I always avoid going to Bella. Not because how I don’t like their gelato because they truly indeed has the best gelato in town. I just don’t go to avoid the people, but now here I am going there during the Hot Chocolate Fest – which of course is asking for the crowd. :P But I was sooo lucky to find a table for three girls! :D

I got the Black Magic: milk hot chocolate served with a black sesame and matcha gBAR (gelato on a stick/popsicle) on the side. The hot chocolate was piping hot and for you to melt the gBAR in the chocolate to enjoy, it is also serve with a slice (seriously the slice is thin enough to be paper) of banana bread.

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On the city food website, it was advertised that we are allow to choose our base of hot chocolate. However I wasn’t asked by the cashier, she simply took my order (I guess they were too busy or sold out of other darkness of chocolate). So I am not quite sure how much percentage of chocolate I got, but I think I got the lowest percentage.

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I can many people enjoying this hot chocolate differently. Some melts the whole gBar in the hot chocolate for a light even distributed flavour, some dips and let it melt a little and eats the gBar separately. The gBar is very delicious, strong and rich black sesame flavour (over powering the matcha I would say).

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Hot chocolate is nice and hot therefore doesn’t allow the gBar cool down the hot chocolate (because luke warm chocolate doesn’t taste good). I enjoyed this hot chocolate and was actually a little filled with the slice of banana bread and a large cup of hot chocolate.

Bella Gelateria Handcrafted Gelato on Urbanspoon

Black + Blue

Being a member of the Glowbal group, their decoration/interior design needs to live up to an expectation and this one does for sure. With a beautiful lit bar in the center of the restaurant and geometry globe lamps hanging from the ceiling and with seats surrounding the center made the restaurant sparkles. I have been to Black & Blue before for a graduation dinner party and we were seated at the roof during a fall evening. It was pretty up there and could get romantic with dark clear skies. This is indeed a very beautiful restaurant, inside and out.

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Josper Grilled Vegetable Napoleon - goat cheese, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms. The name comes from the stacking of the vegetables similar to lasagna, it was so visually pleasing to see with all these beautiful colours. I personally likes goat cheese but I still find the goat cheese is a little over powering the vegetables. I had to push off some to the side to get a real taste of the vegetables, but this is a good vegetables dish.

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Loaded Baked Potato Soup - double smoked bacon, chive crema, cheddar. I have to say there is really nothing special about this soup. It’s a potato soup alright, just a potato soup really. Bacon was a little salty but acceptable.

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Slow Cooked Guinness Braised Short Rib - applewood smoked cheddar spätzle, winter greens. The ribs is quite soft, the meat comes off verily easily when you lift it lightly with your fork. However I wish it was more juicy, it is a little on the dry side. But flavour is great.

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 6 Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin truffled mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and red wine jus. I had the biggest debate whether I should get the steak or the trout, but then I thought to myself that if I am in a steakhouse I should get the steak. They sure live up to the steakhouse standard, the steak was nice and tender and juicy. But what I found the most amazing about this dish is its mash potatoes, truffled! Oh my god was it good, I normally do not eat a lot of the mashed potatoes but this one just kept me going. I almost wanted to eat that instead of my steak. :P

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B&B Carrot Cake - coconut & ginger macaroon, cream cheese candied carrot. I am not into carrot cakes, I never order carrot cake to eat anywhere. So I was a little sad to see their only dessert option is carrot cake. I asked the to server to see if I can switch to another dessert (pay the difference) but wasn’t able to do it. For two of us I told him we only need one carrot cake, because I probably won’t eat the second one. But he was kind enough to take the carrot cake price off the bill for us. Anyways, since I am not into carrot cake so I don’t know how fair this part will be. There is nothing special about this carrot cake, it’s carrot… and cake. But the frosting on the top is a little sweet.

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Overall I had a good dining experience here, but both times I was here the service seems to not pop out at me. Or I was expecting too much? It is a very upscale downtown steakhouse, I would expect close to supreme customer service. But both times I didn’t get any, was good service just not good enough. For their normal price, I might consider going somewhere else. Because even if they have good food, I just cannot justify the price. It is not THAT good for that kind of pricing. I will return if anyone books a dinner here.

Black + Blue on Urbanspoon

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Leonaids

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A small chocolate café located by Coal Harbour right outside of the Vancouver Convention Centre along with other restaurants and pub. I wanted to try this place last year but time didn’t work out so finally this year for the Hot Chocolate Festival, I need to go and try it out!

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I cannot recall if they are serving the same menu as last year but there are some interesting looking flavours on this year’s menu. They serve this combo that allows you to order one cup of hot chocolate along with either: liege waffle, cheesecake, chocolate, or a scoop of Italian ice cream.

I wanted to keep indulging the chocolate flavour so I ordered a piece of coffee caramel dark chocolate along with my Tiger Milk.

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I was attracted instantly with the description of the ingredients in this white hot chocolate with nugmeg, cardimom and saffron. Now here is the secret to ‘Tiger’ in the milk. As you let your drink sit a thin layer of yellow will glow on the top of your hot chocolate, that’s the tiger! The owner came over to ask if we see the colour coming out, just to make sure. ;) I believe it is the oil from saffron that gave its colour. This is also a delicious white hot chocolate with spices.

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Jamacian Kiss – Belgian milk chocolate flavoured with coconut, pineapple and rum. Maybe a little strong for 11:00am drink but it was delicious. I loved the coconut milk base with chunks of pineapple, the flavours are so great together it is hard to describe. :)

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Hazelnut milk chocolate

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Crepe – I think he gave us extra crepe? I am not sure, but this crepe is soft and chewy served warm! <3

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Liege Waffle – also served hot, but a little sweet but you can add other toppings and minus the sugar to balance the flavour out.

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Dark Coffee Caramel Chocolate – This is one smooth dark coffee caramel, the filling is so smooth! With light caramel flavour.

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Go check this small chocolate café out, maybe buy a hot chocolate to go and walk along the Coal Harbour. It will be a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. :D