Friday, July 13, 2012

Hidden Tasting Bar and Social Lounge @ Grand Westin, Vancouver

We had arrived to Vancouver from Seattle, and after a long wait at the Border Patrol, we were a little tired.  Since we were staying at the Westin Grand in the Downtown area, we thought it'd be best to have a little something at the Hotel Dining venue, which is The Hidden Tasting Bar and Social Lounge.  Now normally, I'm not a big fan of Hotel food in general and for the most part it can be either pretty subpar food, or some celebrity chef attached to the place that makes it unnecessarily pretentious and underwhelming.....

So to my amazement, I found the Westin to be a very modern hotel, the amenities were contemporary and the design pretty sleek!  This was going to be a good trip and upon entering the restaurant, my hopes were high!

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The entrance is off to the side of the main lobby near the staircase, and one can easily miss it.  But once you enter, it's surprising! I was pretty impressed with the space, high ceiling with wonderful views of the Library across the street, it was a very metropolitan ambience and romantic with great uplighting and well designed fixtures. (It's funny that the Library reminds me of that REALLY BAD movie, 'Ballistic: Eks vs. Sever' which I saw in the movie theatre....Damn my loyalty to Lucy Liu!!!)

So looking over the dinner menu, I was really happy that a lot of the dishes were my favorite; lots of Southeast Asian influences like Curry and Mediterranean/Middle East dishes like Moroccan Quinoa Salad, Chicken Fatuous Salad and Hummus! I had heard a lot about the Seafood and Asian Cuisine in Vancouver and this was a great introduction.

Griiled Squid Puttanesca

We mainly focused on the smaller Tapas like dishes, since it was pretty late and we were tired.  But some items caught our eye that we could not but try:  We started with the Grilled Squid Puttanesca with Kalamata Olives, Capers, and Cherrry Tomatoes Sauteed in a White Wine Sauce.  The Squid was absolutely fresh and tender, grilled just the right amount of chewy texture!  And the Puttanesca was really mild and tangy at the same time, I'm not the biggest fan of this sauce, (Capers and Olives can be overwhelming in their sourness) but we really enjoyed how it complimented the blank canvas of the Squid.

Tom Yum Prawns

I was excited for this next dish: Tom Yum Prawns grilled with Stir Fry Noodles, Baby Corn, Bok Choy in a Black Bean Sauce.  It's a really nice dish, lot's of Prawns with a great Tom Yum Marinade that's for the Thai flavor, the vegetables were cooked very nicely crunchy and well cooked.  The noodles were so welcoming, it's comfort food all the way-even though the venue was all slick and cool. Overall, I would get this dish again!

Oddly, we were getting full and our last dish came to the table: Maple Glazed Pork Belly with Orange Zest & Tarragon infused Gnocchi.  It came in three wee proportioned pieces that packed in a lot of that delicious maple, fatty pork flavor and we devoured!  It was so savory and satisfying, I really could have had a couple more pieces!  The Gnocchi was well cooked, which normally I do not order at all because they are so temperamental and I am often disappointed.  It was all that you would expect from a Pork Belly dish and much more, it exceed my expectations for sure!

Maple Glazed Pork Belly

With regards to the service, we had our server's undivided attention and loved it!  She was very helpful in recommendations and was truly attentive, I wish all my encounters with service were this graceful and accommodating!!  

So it was definitely time for us to end the day, and it was a great way to finish off the night and start our Vancouver trip!  We didn't have enough room for dessert, but the next time we here, we'll definitely make it our destination for the evening!!!

Hidden Tasting Bar and Social Lounge on UrbanspoonRatings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:          4
Ambience   4 
Service:      4