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

Kelly’s Bake Shoppe

When I saw the opportunity to review Kelly’s Bake Shoppe I couldn’t turn it down. I mean, who doesn’t want to indulge in cupcakes, cookies and brownies in one sitting. Especially ones that are vegan and gluten free! I have to admit, only on a couple occasions have I tried vegan and gluten free desserts. A family member of mine likes to make them at home and I’m lucky enough to get to try them. They have always been delicious, and so I was interested to see what Kelly’s had in store for me.

I was so happy to see that Kelly’s is run by a mother & daughter team, Kelly Childs and Erinn Weatherbie. What a lovely and inspiring pair of women. There can’t be a better team than a mother and her gal! Their commitment and passion for delicious treats with healthy ingredients will keep you coming back.

Here’s a list of what they do and don’t put in their creations:

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First off, their shop is simply stunning. It’s so well put together and has such a calming, welcoming atmosphere. It’s absolutely beautiful inside and there’s so much to look at.

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They also have a freezer full of goodies you can purchase. I saw a couple of beautifully decorated cakes and cupcakes that I’ll have to come back for. There’s cake pops, ice cream and brownies too. Basically heaven in a freezer.  Beside this is a display of t-shirts you can buy as well.

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Okay – let’s get to the goodies!

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I had such a fun time tasting these treats while taking notes on the delicious flavours and textures. I started off with the Mile High Brownie. Oh. My. Gosh. Is this real life? Is this even possible? I always had my doubts about vegan/gluten free desserts and thought, how is it that you can bake a dessert without using eggs or dairy? Well I hold my tongue (partially because it’s still freaking out about how indulgent this brownie is) but also because I was definitely proven wrong here.

No wonder it’s called the Mile High Brownie. This is the mother of all brownies – it takes you to another level. The brownie itself was moist and had wonderful texture – it was fluffy but still dense enough to be considered a brownie. Combined with the vanilla buttercream topping it melts in your mouth. Add in the homemade caramel sauce and chocolate frosting and you’re done for. You need a chocolate fix? This will do it. Although this brownie is nothing but indulgent, it’s not too sweet – you won’t find yourself getting a sugar overload, rolling on the floor holding your tummy. Simply delicious!

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Next up was the Dulce De Leche Cupcake. I’m not sure I can express enough, my sincere thanks to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe for introducing me to this delicious creation. Again with the vanilla butter cream and homemade caramel sauce – delicious! As if the caramel sauce dripping over the buttercream wasn’t enough, wait till you bite into this baby and find the secret caramel sauce filling. This cupcake is the perfect size too. For the amount of sweetness and richness you’re getting from the toppings, the cupcake on its own provides a great base as it’s not too dense or flaky. There’s a perfect balance.

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Next in line was the Black and White Cupcake. Now, I don’t like to play favourites but this one takes the cake (get it!). The texture of this cupcake was different from the Dulce De Leche as it was a little more airy and light. However, I think what sold me was the vanilla frosting with the chocolate ganache drizzle. The frosting was whipped to perfection with just the right amount of sweetness. As a whole, it offers a rich and irresistible chocolate flavour. Not only is it topped with chocolate ganache, but it’s also hidden inside. Another surprise! I didn’t know eating cupcakes could be this exciting.

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Last but not least were the World Peace (top) and Snickerdoodle (bottom) Cookies. The World Peace Cookie is stuffed full of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries and oats. I really enjoyed the combination of raisins and cranberries as it creates a nice chunky texture. The oats and the seeds fill up the cookie well making it a wholesome treat. The chocolate chips provide just enough sweetness to make you enjoy each bite. Overall, it’s a delicious cookie with fresh and healthy ingredients. The Snickerdoodle is a simple yet delicious cinnamon and sugar cookie. The aroma of the cinnamon was the first thing I could smell when I opened the box of goodies! I love this one – it’s soft, chewy and the sugar sprinkled on top gives it a granulated texture that plays well with the softness of the cookie. Scrumptious!

At this point you probably imagine I was crawling across the floor to my bed, fingers covered in chocolate and icing, overwhelmed by all the excitement. Or maybe not. Either way, I managed to get through each and every delicious treat – no complaints ;). I also had help from a very willing volunteer who assisted me with sampling the goodies. (Lucky bugger!)

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Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is located at 401 Brant Street in downtown Burlington.

Check out their beautiful website at: http://kellysbakeshoppe.com/ for bios, menus and so much more!

Happy eating!

-Rach