Tap Restaurant – Surrey, BC

It feels like ages since I’ve sat down to write a review here. Nine months to be exact. I’m not sure what happened or why it took me so long to get back into the swing of things and enjoy writing again. It probably has something to do with life getting in the way, or the multitude of changes that have occurred recently. Since moving my entire life to British Columbia, attempting to settle in to a new job, new home and make new friends, my passion for writing has been put on the back burner. That completely changed when I visited Tap Restaurant. The spark was reignited and I am once again excited to share my experience of what I think is an outstanding fine dining establishment.

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My parents were so generous in giving us a gift card to Tap Restaurant for Christmas which allowed us the freedom to choose freely from the menu without worrying about how our wallets would judge us later. The menu is reasonably priced, considering the quality of the locally sourced ingredients and the time and passion that goes into creating their dishes. I would have no issue forking out (get it?) a few extra bucks of my hard earned money to dine here again.

Tap Restaurant is located in south Surrey, tucked away in what seems to be a nice, quiet residential area. They have a beautiful patio that I can’t wait to enjoy in the summer.

We made our reservation for 7PM on a weeknight and there were only a handful of tables occupied during our visit. We were immediately welcomed by most of the staff, including the chef as we walked through the doors and were sat by a beautiful, warm fireplace to enjoy our meal. The dining area is small and cozy with tasteful modern decor which created a warm intimate dining experience. It also features an open kitchen concept so you can watch the cooks work their magic.

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We began our meal with the parmesan risotto with white truffle oil. During our drive to the restaurant, I was looking over the menu and had my heart set on this as a starter. I’m incredibly glad we did. The risotto was every bit as creamy as you’d want a risotto to be, cooked perfectly, piping hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. We opted for some fresh pepper on top as well. I’d been craving a good risotto for a while, and this sealed the deal. It was also a perfect portion for sharing.

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An interesting section on their menu is the puff pastry tartes flambees. We settled on the Alsace puff pastry with double smoked bacon, caramelized onion and Gruyere cheese. Although not flambeed, the puff pastry was incredible – unlike any puff pastry I’ve had. It was warm, flaky, indulgent, drizzled with a balsamic reduction, a delicious white sauce and topped with shallots. Another great dish to share.

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My main of choice was the Rossdown Farms chicken with rosemary and thyme veloute, wild rice and a side of kale, carrots and green beans. The chicken was incredibly juicy, hot with a perfectly crispy skin. The veloute worked perfectly with the rice and vegetables. The carrots were incredible and the kale was to die for. I even stole some from my partners plate. The vegetables were clearly fresh and the beans had a wonderful crunch.

After our two starters, the portioning of this dish was perfect.

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My partner had the beef tenderloin with an olive oil herb potato pave and same delicious vegetables that eventually made their way to my plate too. My boyfriend is great at sharing! The beef was beautifully cooked, tender and succulent with prominent  flavours and beautifully seasoned. I was fortunate enough to grab a bite and the meat simply melted in my mouth. I’d never had potato pave before and to my delight it was seared in butter and had the perfect balance of crisp edges and a soft potato center. Additionally, flavours of thyme and rosemary elevated this dish wonderfully.

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I struggled with what to order for dessert. Each option sounded even better than the last so I narrowed it down to a final two and asked our waitress for her recommendation. It was between the poached pear or lemon cremeux. On her recommendation, the lemon cremeux was the winner. This was a sweet and refreshing way to finish the meal. The meringue was delicious and perfectly toasted and the lemon cremeux was sweet and tangy. The raspberry caviar was a fun and sweet visual addition to this dish.

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My better half chose the lava cake which he described as rich and indulgent – decadence at its finest. Obviously I had a bite or two, for research purposes. The cake was warm and gooey, wonderfully cooked and just the right size. The side of creme anglaise made this dish even more indulgent than it was on its own. It’s the perfect way to complete your dining experience, especially if you’ve had a lighter meal.

Tap Restaurant has amazing staff, beautiful ambiance and the plating and presentation of their dishes is creative and inspiring. The people who work here bring everything together perfectly and you can tell they are proud to work there

We can’t wait to come back and enjoy more of what Tap Restaurant has to offer and sample from their large wine selection for our next date night.

Most importantly, I’m looking forward to bringing my family here during their visit from Ontario for my 30th birthday.

Tap Restaurant is located at 101-15350 34th Avenue, Surrey BC.

-Rach

 Tap Urban Cafe & Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Paramount Fine Foods – Hamilton

So there’s this great restaurant on the Hamilton mountain that ha- WAIT, STOP. What? You thought all the good restaurants were downtown? WRONG. There’s a growing number of fantastic restaurants on the Hamilton mountain. Welcome to a whole new world my friend. I’d like to introduce you to Paramount Fine Foods on Upper James Street, although I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you already know about this place since they’ve been popping up new locations across the GTA over the last four years.

I was lucky enough to be invited to their Hamilton location to try out a few new items on their menu, along with a bunch of other local food bloggers. Sura and her attentive staff were wonderfully accommodating and knowledgable. To warm up our tummies, they brought us multiple baskets of their new Saj bread. This hot out of the clay oven, thin crust bread is prepared by hand and served piping hot – with steam still coming out of its airy insides. The dough is absolutely delicious and fills the air with that familiar warm bread smell as it hits the table.

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So, naturally this bread pairs perfectly with a bowl full of hummus. I really enjoyed this appetizer as it wasn’t consumed by copious amounts of garlic, like some hummus I’ve tried in the past. It was perfectly creamy and had just the right amount of olive oil. I also appreciated the chickpeas ontop as it added another layer of texture to the dish.

FullSizeRender (4)We were brought a wonderfully fragrant and equally delicious Fattoush salad. The vinaigrette dressing was light and tangy, paired well with the fresh veggies and my favourite part of the salad, the crispy fried pita bits. This salad is a great way to start your meal on a healty and satisfying note.

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Up next was the main event. MEAT! Pictured on the left is their new Sujuk Shawarma which is a grilled, spiced minced beef sausage wrapped up tightly in a pita and stuffed with pickles. On the right we have my pick, the all new Saj Sandwich – roasted chicken wrapped in their fresh Saj bread, stuffed with pickles and seasoned with all sorts of wonderful Middle Eastern spices. This was my favourite because the jucy chicken really allowed the flavours of the spices to shine. On the side are some fresh tomatoes, pickles and a delicious garlic sauce for your dipping pleasure.

Moving on, I gave my tummy a pep-talk and prepared myself for the dessert round. The dessert in the picture below really intrigued me. While looking at their selection of desserts and carefully choosing what I wanted, I was informed that the orange bits ontop of this ooey-gooey plate of cheese were infact Vermicelli noodles! They utilize these noodles on many of their desserts and Baklawa as well. I was unsure of this dish at first and was expecting a strong cheese flavour however, that was far from the case. This delightful dish is called Kinafe; cheese drizzled with sugar syrup, topped with vermicelli and crushed pistachio. The cheese is very mild and not overpowering which plays well with the sweetness of the syrup.

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Because I’m a small child at heart, these cookies were singing my name. Sprinkles? Yeah, totally doing that. These bad boys were filled with a vanilla cream and dipped in dark chocolate, then as you can see, dipped in a sea of fun, colourful sprinkles. These were super tasty!

I present to you, the star of the evening: IMG_1570FullSizeRender (11) FullSizeRender (10) FullSizeRender (9) BAKLAWA! (I originally thought this was spelt with a “v” and not a “w”) Shout-out to my boyfriend for telling me its spelt with a “w” and not a “v” and being a trooper when I didn’t believe him. OOPS. Sorry babes – you’re right. But really tho, can someone explain to me the difference in spelling? More importantly, the Baklawa here is incredible. One might even say as addicting as Cocaine! I’m looking at you Paul from Hamilton Gastronomy. We agreed there must be some secret cocaine ingredient baked into these golden nuggets. I know I’ll be back to buy a full tray and take it home to share with no one. NOT SORRY.

There’s just something about layered phyllo, melted butter, pistachios and sweet rose syrup that warms the heart and makes me a believer that there is still good in the world.

I urge you to climb/bike/drive/walk up the mountain to Paramount Fine Foods and give this place a try. The menu is huge, full of fresh dishes with farm to table ingredients and produce. It’s a feast for the eyes and stomach.

Hamilton’s Paramount Fine Foods is located at 1441 Upper James Street.

Have a sweet Holiday everyone 🙂

-Rach FullSizeRender (14)

Paramount Fine Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aberdeen Tavern’s 1st Anniversary Bash!

Since I moved to Hamilton, the Aberdeen Tavern has been at top of my list for restaurants to try. Why I hadn’t made it there until last night is beyond me. I mean, besides the fact that I work like a dog and only have time to sleep, eat and (sometimes) get to the gym, I don’t have much time for myself. In any event, around the month of April, my shifts with the city are cut down a bit and it gives me some free time in the afternoon and evenings. So it was with great excitement that I accepted an invitation to the Aberdeen Tavern’s 1st birthday bash from my new friend, Justin Baisden. Justin is a fellow Hamiltonian and runs the food blog, Eating Your Content. If you live in the Hamilton area and love anything to do with food, you’ve probably heard of him.

I have to admit, I was pretty damn nervous to attend this. I’m fairly new to the whole blogging scene, let alone being invited to media events full of professional foodies, so I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to act. Once I got there, after a few minutes of chatting and two (delicious) cocktails, I realized I was in a room full of people who shared the same passion as I did. As the appetizers started to flow from the kitchen, I began to relax and find my groove. It’s amazing how food brings people together.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Avi, who served me up a couple of cocktails (okay, a few) that were so delicious. My favourite was definitely the Key West Collins (left side of the picture) which incorporates bourbon, lime juice, bitters, soda and Galliano liqueur, rimmed with graham crackers! It was a perfect balance between sweet and sour, super refreshing (will be an amazing patio drink in the summer) and paired beautifully with the food we were tasting. I also tried one of the draft beers which was also delicious. Needless to say, it was a great start to the evening.

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The above dish is the Hoisin glazed pork belly with avacado, pickled carrot, chili aioli and coriander. This was only my second time trying pork belly. I’m really starting to become a fan of this stuff. It’s crispy on the outside, soft, warm and somewhat juicy on the inside. Definitely a dish you need to savour and let melt in your mouth. Plus, there was some sort of crunchy garnish that really added a nice contrasting texture to the pork belly. I have no idea what it was. Maybe someone can clear that up for me in the comments below. 

Funny side story: this was the first plate I tried and as I’m marveling at its beauty, with my fork I attempted to unsuccessfully slice it in half. Not knowing my own strength, I managed to push the pork belly off the plate and onto my shoe. What a waste *tear* I still have the stain from its impact on my shirt and shoe. Not to worry dear reader, I made sure I consumed at lest three more plates of this delicious meaty goodness to make up for the lost one. RIP.

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Next up was the Scallop and Sweet Pea Risotto with black tiger shrimp, parmesean and *wait for it* fifteen year old balsamic. This dish was a top contender for me. I love a good risotto, especially when done right. Let me tell you, this risotto was perfect. It was soft and creamy with an added cheesiness of parmesean. The scallop was a great way to prepare your mouth for the rush of flavour that was following it. It was perfectly seared on all sides, crispy and full of flavour. The balsamic was a great finish in this dish as it added a sweet and salty component that really worked well with the other ingredients.

SONY DSCThis dish was a first for me. The Beef Carpaccio with mustard sauce, pickled honey mushrooms, arugula and parmesean was something I have never tried before. Believe it or not, I’ve never had raw meat like this before. It was so refreshing and flavourful I couldn’t figure out why this was the first time I was trying it. Better late than never, I guess. I’m extremely happy I tried it here. Although, a knife might have made it a bit easier for me to chow down on. A full slice really fills up the mouth and I found myself spending some time breaking it down before I could finish. However, that didn’t stop me from trying this dish a couple more times. The mustard sauce was so aromatic and really danced on your taste buds with the chilled meat. A fantastic compliment of flavours, temperature and texture. Bravo!

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Next up was the Albacore Tuna Sashimi with jalapeño, avocado puree, cilantro and a yuzu miso vinaigrette. I’m not as much a fan of raw fish on its own as I am now of red meat. I’ll kill five sushi rolls on any given day, but I’ve just not found myself interested in sashimi. That was of course until I tried this. I really enjoyed that it was thinly sliced and paired with more intense flavours. The slice of jalapeño with the miso vinaigrette was what made this dish really stand out for me.

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I’ve got a serious crush on cauliflower lately and this just made me want to get down on one knee. The Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower with pickled crudite and blue cheese dressing was my winner for the night. It was so crispy and juicy at the same time and combined with the kick of buffalo sauce, it was just a delicious punch in the mouth. As the evening progressed I noticed they hadn’t continued to pump out the cauliflower like they were with the other dishes. As my anxiety around this realization began to build, to my relief, more arrived. This time they were served in a cast iron bowl, so all the delicious sauces collected at the bottom for me to scoop up and drizzle on top. So so so good!

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After all was said and done, I am very thankful I was invited and welcomed so warmly to this celebration. As a new comer to this city, new beginnings can be pretty overwhelming. Hamilton and more specifically the Hamilton food scene has welcomed me with open arms. The Aberdeen Tavern is a place that most Hamiltonian’s are very familiar with and whenever I bring it up to someone who lives here I always hear wonderful things about it. This event definitely met my expectations and I can’t wait to visit again soon. Especially for patio season!

So, thanks to everyone who I met last night and made me feel like part of the family! Cheers!

-Rach
Aberdeen Tavern on Urbanspoon