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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Warm Asparagus and Corn Salad with White Wine Vinegar

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I recently had one of those nights where I knew I had barely anything left in the fridge for a proper dinner and was too lazy to go out to the grocery store (it was probably a Monday). Luckily, I knew I had some fresh veggies kickin’ around. I grabbed what I thought would work well together and settled on making a vegetable salad. So, with some asparagus, corn, onion and red pepper I created a delicious, comforting, warm vegetable salad on a whim. What’s great about this dish is how well it re-heats the next day. Just under two minutes in the microwave will warm the vegetables up just enough and keep their crunch.

Even though I enjoyed this on a cold winter night, this salad is sure to go well with some chicken or fish at your next summer barbeque.

Servings: 6 (as a side dish)

Total time: 30 minutes

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 – 2.5 cups fresh or frozen corn, if frozen: steam
  • 1 bunch of asparagus spears, ends trimmed, cut into large pieces
  • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup Spanish OR red onion, chopped
  • Small bundle of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Steam corn and set aside to cool. Heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan on medium to high heat. Once oil is hot, add the asparagus and red pepper. Cook and stir frequently until tender but still firm, about 3-5 minutes, depending on how cooked you prefer your asparagus to be. Transfer into a large bowl.

In the large bowl, add the steamed corn, parsley, onion, parmesan cheese, remaining olive oil and white wine vinegar. Toss gently to evenly coat the vegetables. Sprinkle with paprika and Italian seasoning and toss gently again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm and enjoy!

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

Table 34 Resto & Bar

So, I celebrated my birthday this past weekend. Another year closer to 30 (yaaaay…). I have to tell you though, I’m not that depressed about it. I’ve got a good feeling about what my 30s will bring, especially if things keep going the way they are. In any case, birthdays (for me at least) give me an excuse to eat whatever I want and share the experience with loving family and friends. One of my mothers friends suggested we try a new restaurant in downtown Burlington, Table 34. It was a great evening, with impressive food and great staff. As a new restaurant there’s a couple things to improve on, but that’s all a part of the experience. None of the issues that came up were nearly big enough to deter me from visiting again. The owner, Moe, was attentive, very accessible and present in the restaurant and quick to respond to any questions or concerns.

Note: I apologize for the terrible picture quality. I’m just starting to get comfortable with my DSLR and I hate a flashing camera in a busy restaurant. So, I held off and used my phone’s camera. Sorry!

I started off with the chef’s Caesar salad (no picture *blame hunger). It was a deconstructed salad with romaine leaves tossed in a house dressing, a slice of bacon and fried a Parmesan chip. The salad was good, however I found there was way too much dressing on the lettuce which really weighed it down. I’m also not a fan of chopping up my own salad. Especially if I’m having it as a starter, I want to be able to just dig in once it hits the table. This is just my personal preference and by no means takes away from the quality of the salad. The portion was large enough for two people to share and was a great way to start the meal. I really enjoyed the fried Parmesan chip, who doesn’t love crispy, fried cheese!

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I had the pizza special (obviously – if you don’t know me by now, I love pizza). I couldn’t believe the size of this thing. It’s definitely something you can share with someone you trust. FYI – Never share your pizza with an untrustworthy person. For the price (I believe it was around $21), I would expect it to be this big, approximately a medium. They used a bolognese sauce as the base which was incredible on the pizza. It had a perfect balance of ground beef and light tomato sauce which really added to the overall flavour of the pizza. The dough was thin crust and cooked well. Toppings included roasted red peppers, choirzo sausage and cheese curds. This pizza was full-flavoured and seriously took care of my pizza craving. I traded a few slices in return for bites of other dishes on the table and each person loved it too. I took a few slices to go and the whole drive home all I could smell was this pizza. Even though I was having a food baby, the aroma was making my mouth water.

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My partner in crime had the Alberta high river smokey mountain ground brisket & sirloin burger. Try saying that five times fast – it’s a mouthful, and so is this burger! It could feed a small country. It’s basically a meatball on a bun, and the consumer wasn’t really feeling that. There was a lot of beef and I believe if it was flattened out a bit with a more substantial bun it would improve the eating experience. Because there was so much juicy meat, the bun was ruined within a couple bites and it just became a huge mess. I had a couple bites and it definitely was delicious – obviously high quality meat and so juicy. Just a couple of adjustments will make this burger even better! The fries were also stellar.

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My bro ordered the chicken wings which came with the chef’s chili lime yogurt – the sauce of the day. They were served dry with the sauce on the side. Now, unfortunately my brother and I weren’t really impressed with these in the beginning. The wings were pretty small for what you’re paying ($18 for a pound), no seasoning on the wings and the sauce was watery and lacked any real flavour. We brought this to our servers attention and she immediately took them back to the kitchen to toss them in a different sauce. They came back with a BBQ and Sriracha sauce which was a huge improvement. This sauce had the kick my brother was looking for that the chili lime yogurt was missing.

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My g-ma had the fish & chips (from the lunch menu) which was a beer-battered haddock, side of fries and Chef’s slaw. My grams is a fish & chip aficionado to say the least. It’s basically all she ever orders, unless prime rib is available, then she’ll most definitely order that. She really enjoyed her meal and said the fish was cooked perfectly, full of flavour and the batter was light and crispy. So, two thumbs up for this fish dish – if it impressed my grandma, it should do the same for you!

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Two others in our group ordered the wild mushroom jumbo ravioli, one with meat and one without meat. The pasta was stuffed with smoked bacon and topped with sundried tomatoes, edamame beans and smothered in an amazing thyme fused cream and white truffle oil drizzle. I got to try a bite of this one and was really impressed. The sauce was so rich and flavourful and the ravioli was cooked perfectly. Definitely a must try! The only complaint here was that no freshly ground pepper was offered, which would have finished the dish off well. We notified the owner (at the end of the evening) and he ensured us he would let his staff know. Again, not a big problem!

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Another dish we ordered was the beef tenderloin. I didn’t get a chance to try it, however I was told it was delicious, cooked to their liking and had minimal traces of fat. The plating was beautifully executed with a nice variety of sides to accompany it including baked potato wedges and roasted veggies.

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We also ordered the T34 Charcuterie. This thing is so badass – there’s no better way to serve Charcuterie than on a large chopping block! I didn’t get to try any of the items as this couple arrived a bit later than us and we were all pretty well stuffed by the time it reached the table. It comes with an assortment of cured and smoked meats, pate, mustard’s and relishes, pickled vegetables, three cheese assortment, rustic bread and pickled quail eggs. A little bit of everything! A charcuterie is the perfect way to share a meal with a number of people. It encourages conversation and a shared food experience. Everything was beautifully arranged and prepared fresh. This is definitely something to try when you visit.

The bottom line here is that Table 34 is a great new spot in downtown Burlington. A few kinks need to be worked out but there’s no questioning the quality of the dishes here. You might leave with your wallet feeling a little less full in comparison to your stomach, but it’s well worth it. Everyone deserves to treat themselves once and a while and this could be the place to do that. The food was prepared fresh and served hot, the staff was incredibly attentive (shout out to our server Andrea for making our night extra special). The restaurant has such a warm, relaxing atmosphere and it’s obvious the owner really cares about the happiness of his guests. I watched Moe visit each table that night, making sure everyone was enjoying their meals and having a positive experience. I have no doubt that this restaurant will thrive and continue to grow with much success!

Table 34 is located at 1455 Lakeshore Road East, Unit 3 on the corner of Lakeshore and Locust Street.

Website: www.table34.com

Happy eating!

-Rach
Table 34 Resto & Bar on Urbanspoon