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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Lou Dawg’s Hamilton

Last week my significant other and I had the pleasure of trying out Hamilton’s newest addition to the Southern BBQ scene, Lou Dawg’s! Nestled away in Hess Village, Lou Dawg’s is a Southern BBQ and Blues restaurant that originated in Toronto and quickly became famous for their slow smoked BBQ, bourbon and blues. Now, branching out into Hamilton, owners Erika Puckering and Chef Jamie Ewing have taken on Hess Village and packed delicious, smoked and savoury flavours into their dishes.

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I’m in love with the décor inside this place. The weathered wood and brick accents paired with adorable bulb string lights and vintage rugs give Lou’s a perfectly southern country vibe. The location is warm and inviting and the smells from the kitchen will certainly get your mouth watering. FullSizeRender (33)

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We started our BBQ adventure with Lou Dawg’s signature Smoked Lemon Southern Tea. The key to this addictive and refreshing drink is the in house smoked lemons, but lets not forget the two shots of Jack Daniel’s honey whiskey! We couldn’t get over how delicious this drink was and kept reminding ourselves to come back when the patio is open to enjoy this bad boy in the sunshine. This will be a must have this summer!

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For our main BBQ dishes we ordered the 2 meats (beef brisket & pulled pork) and 2 sides (meaty BBQ beans & fries) option for $14.95 – value city! We also couldn’t pass on the Angry Loutine or the Jalapeño Cornbread Muffin since I’ve heard so many good things about it!

I’m going to start off with discussing this mountain of fried potato, meaty goodness because this was the best thing that entered my mouth that night. Yeah, yeah – [enter sexual innuendo here] Get your mind out of the gutter! Seriously though, this ain’t your typical loaded poutine, oh no, my friend. This right here will be the reason I return to Lou’s. The Angry Loutine is the Mighty Loutine (cheese curds and chicken gravy) topped with jalapeños, pulled pork, BBQ mayo and crispy onions. Lou’s poutine game is strong. Crispy, creamy, spicy and salty in one bite. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back this weekend to get this again. If you love a good poutine, you’ll seriously appreciate this. FYI – this was a SMALL.

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Everything together on the table provided to be quite the spread and was a tad intimidating at first! We questioned whether we would live to see another day after eating all this food and how long it would take to crawl to our cars after such an epic meal. Even a bread roll is included to soak up all the delicious house made sauce which is generously provided to you at the table.

So, accepting our fate, we dug in. I was pleasantly surprised at how tender and juicy the meat was, especially the brisket. Although I do believe the portion size was a bit on the small side,  it was a great cut of meat and was cooked perfectly. The pulled pork was outstanding on its own or stuffed in the bread roll. Squirt on some extra sauce and you’re in BBQ heaven. I’m normally not a huge fan of beans (texture-a-phobe) but I really enjoyed the meaty beans. The beans were cooked well and smothered in delicious sauce. They were also super tasty re-heated the next day.

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FullSizeRender (30)FullSizeRender (29)When I asked my foodie friends what they liked at Lou’s, the Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread was a hot topic. I was not let down in the least. It came out moist (important) and warm with awesomely crispy edges and definitely spicy, as expected. At the center of the corn muffin was a delicious chunk of cheddar cheese. I tried the cheese on its own and found it had a sweet flavour while not completely melted, which I thought was great. For an extra $2.95 I’d say the corn muffin is well worth the try.

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Overall I’d say Lou Dawg’s is a strong contender in Hamilton’s southern smoked BBQ scene. Their sauces and quality of meat are on point, they have a great list of signature cocktails and will be hosting a series of live music and community nights. I also really appreciated the friendly atmosphere and relaxed vibe at Lou’s. The staff are amazing and definitely take good care of you.

Not to mention they are open for Southern brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11-4PM with $5 Mimosas and Caesars! Brunch includes items like breakfast poutines, burritos and benny’s.

Combine great BBQ, live music and exceptional service and I think you’ve got yourself a good time! With their outdoor patio NOW OPEN, summer in Hamilton just got a little more exciting.
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Check out their Twitter: @LouDawgsHamOnt to stay updated on future events and menu updates.

If you’re wandering around Hess village in a haze, Lou’s won’t be hard to find with their kick ass BBQ sign out front.

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Lou Dawg’s is located at 116 George Street in Hamilton.

Amen to summer and BBQ/patio season!

-Rach

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!

Lotus Thai & Vietnamese Cuisine

One of my two jobs is working for the City of Hamilton at one of our wonderful recreation centres in Stoney Creek. Needless to say, there’s not much variety on this part the mountain when it comes to places to eat, especially something quick and delicious for lunch. Lucky for my colleagues and I, a few new places have opened up on Mud Street, one of them being Lotus Thai & Vietnamese Cuisine. They took over Quiznos old location (I was pretty heartbroken when they disappeared – loved their soups!) but if I had known a Thai restaurant would be opening in their place, I wouldn’t have shed so many tears over lost soup.

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Since this is a brand new location, it’s very clean and shiny. It boasts a bright open space with ample seating. I was greeted by two adorable little girls who ran into the kitchen to grab their mommy. I told the woman I was interested in trying the Pad Thai and she suggested their Lotus Pad Thai, which she said was a bit creamier and more spicy than the traditional. I opted out and decided to stick with the traditional Pad Thai as something to compare the Lotus Pad Thai to at a later date.

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Walking in, I had no idea they had a lunch menu until I saw it on their counter (yay!). The Pad Thai came with a tasty little spring roll, sauce for dipping and a wonderfully fresh, crisp salad with a light and refreshing dressing. I really enjoyed the salad. I love love love onion and I’m really happy they used red onion in this salad. Since the dressing was fairly light in flavour, the red onion helped to kick it up a notch.

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(Backstory – I had to scarf down my lunch between shifts which is why you’re seeing pictures of my knee and shift knob. Hah!)

Anyway, the Pad Thai was PIPING hot! I couldn’t even keep it on my lap which made me happy that it was so fresh. In regards to the dish itself, out of the many Pad Thai’s I’ve had, this one was definitely a competitor. The chicken was delicious and they didn’t cheap out on the amount of it either. The egg and tofu really make this a well rounded and filling lunch. My only concern with it was the sweetness of the peanut sauce. Although delicious, it was a little on the sweet side for my taste. It’s what I like to call, “too much of a good thing”. Maybe that’s what the Lotus Pad Thai is for, something less sweet with more of a kick.

Regardless, this was a great option for lunch. Quick, fresh and delicious. All for $10. I really hope this place survives up here because I’d love to try their Vermecelli and Pho dishes too.

Lotus Thai & Vietnamese Cuisine is located at 280 Mud Street West in Stoney Creek.

Website: http://lotuscuisine.ca

Happy eating!

-Rach

Lotus Thai & Vietnamese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato