Quarter-century Extravaganza

So my 25th birthday came and went, but not without a little fanfare. There is nothing better at providing a very necessary reprieve from thesis-ing then good food and great company. My birthday festivities began with some pineapple pie freshly baked by mother (who, in preparation for the wedding, has been test running pies for months, much to our waistlines’ chagrin). We were then off to Joe Fortes Seafood and Chophouse on Robson and Thurlow downtown. I had seen decent reviews and the menu looked interesting…David was particularly sold on the varied oyster selection. Crucially, they didn’t have any restrictions on somewhat larger groups (we were to be roughly 13 people), aside from the obligatory 15% gratuity, which is the case pretty much everywhere.

David and I arrived a bit early to make sure we got the table. The place had, as a friend put it, a very “Seattle” feel to it. But it was a warm, friendly atmosphere, and the service was good. They were unobtrusive…didn’t make us feel pressured to order, as we were waiting for some friends arriving later, kept the courses coming in a timely manner and didn’t have any issues divvying up the bill. The food was quite decent…solid fare… we ordered a few appetizers (calamari, crab cakes), which were tasty. I enjoyed my main of cedar smoked salmon with ravioli, and David noted that it would be hard to go wrong with his prosciutto-wrapped salmon. He was also pleased with the raw oysters he sampled, which, at $20 for half a dozen, weren’t as pricey as we’ve had elsewhere. Most everyone enjoyed their meal I believe…although for me, my focus, oddly enough, wasn’t actually on the food. I was more reveling in the convivial atmosphere. A couple of mojitos and some lively conversation (and a few hilarious hi-jinks) made for a thoroughly entertaining evening.

The next night, however, we indulged in a more intimate, culinary experience, as David took me out to continue my birthday delights to Le Crocodile–probably my favourite restaurant in Vancouver. We’d been there for dinner for our 1 year anniversary and for a decadent Tuesday lunch one afternoon. We’d had nothing but exceptional food and service, and I expected nothing less of this evening. Le Crocodile certainly delivered.

David and I ordered Kir Royales to start with (essentially sparkling wine/champagne with creme de cassis), which were delectable. Complements of the chef, they always send out a little tart to start with, and today’s was particularly memorable–a delicious foie gras/pear tart that melted in your mouth. mmm. After some indecision over what to order, we ultimately decided on sharing duck liver terrine with warm bread, followed by our own separate appetizers (my goodness the indulgence!). I couldn’t resist having the lobster bisque (which I’d had both previous times I’d visited), and David decided to try the braised beef bone marrow. After stuffing ourselves to the brim with thoroughly delicious appetizers, our main dishes arrived! David went with veal sweetbreads (calf thymus and pancreas bits) in a foie gras black truffle cream sauce, and I decided to be bold and try veal chops with caramlized onions and chanterelles. David looked to be having an aneurysm across from me as he delved into his sweetbreads (although, upon trying a small piece, I was very surprised at how tasty they actually were). The veal was tasty…although in the end, I think I prefer the consistency of pork or poultry…the texture is a little too fibrous for my taste. After loitering a particularly long time (especially David) over our mains, we opted to not have dessert…although, the waiter presented us with complementary pear sorbet (mine with a candle) for my birthday. All in all, it was a truly decadent, delightful, delicious evening!

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