Friday, May 08, 2009

Celebrating 2 Birthdays Downtown at Mosaic Bar and Grill

Rated **** 1/2 out of *****
Well, another year's gone by and I am now a year older. Luckily, I'm not the only one feeling a little bit more mature... my dad's birthday is only 4 days before mine :P Being that our birthday's were so close together, and we always enjoy a good ol' 2-for-1 deal... we decided to celebrate 2 birthdays on one day, thus saving us from spending money on 2 trips to a fancy restaurant :P (yes, our Asian-ness shines through even when it comes to celebrations!). My mom said that she would treat the two of us to a meal at any restaurant we chose; my dad, being undecisive and unable to discern between a quality dining experience and a meal at a local Denny's, left the decision making up to me (thank goodness). But, with all of the fancy restaurants located in the Metro-Vancouver area, I wasn't sure of where to start my search.

Finally, after searching for a few hours on my favorite restaurant review site ( I stumbled upon the reveiw of Mosaic: Bar and Grill, located on the upper level of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. I had never heard of this restaurant before, but apparently from the reviews, it's a hidden gem that must be tried at least once (also, they give free dessert if it's your birthday :P). And to my mother's surprise, there was a buy-one-entree-get-one-free coupon in the 2008-2009 Entertainment book so we were gonna save big-time on this fancy meal :) YEAH!

Check out their website: decided to drive downtown rather than take the transit, and boy oh boy was this NOT the night to dine at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Apparently a whole bunch of grade twelve students had decided to celebrate their graduation dinner on my birthday... the nerve!!! :P The lobby of the hotel was packed, and for a minute I was worried that Mosaic would be packed full of noisy teens but luckily they were dining in one of the hotel's conference rooms. Once we arrived at the restaurant, my parents and I were blown away by the crisp, fresh atmosphere of the restaurant. Although it was a hotel restaurant, it had a very classy, west-coast feel to it. We were seated by a very nice host, who introduced us to our waiter and was very kind and courteous.

The set up of the menu was very unique, it came on a clip-board and was very simple. Although it only had a few appetizers and entrées to choose from, their was a great variety in the choices. There were vegetarian dishes, seafood, soups, salads, steak, lamb and poultry. They were also kind enough to suggest wine pairing for a number of the entrées, but since my mom, dad and I are not wine connoisseurs my dad got a Granville-Island Lager, my mom a Golden Margarita and I chose a Sour Apple Martini.

Before our entrées arrived, we were served some warm foccacia bread, olive bread and sesame-poppy seed flatbread. This was a nice change from the classic "french-bread and balsamic vinegar" that you normally recieve from pasta places. The foccacia was very fragrant, as was the olive bread, and the flatbread was crisp and light. The flatbread reminded my parents of the pappadams they use to eat in Malaysia and Singapore, although they said that these breads were much less greasy.

To my surprise, the freebies didn't end there. Our server came around with these little porridge spoons that were carrying the cutest little crab-cakes I had ever seen. One bite into the crab cake, and my first reaction was "woah, this is real crab!" and then "woah, this is sooo good!"

And now, on to the entrées...
My mom is a fairly picky eater, and didn't want to have any fish because she's cautious of the dangers that their little bones pose on her mouth/throat... so she decided to have the 8 oz. mesquite New York strip with shallot butter, haricots, mushrooms and the most amazing potato-leek gratin!! Yes, it cost $34 but it was a very delicious steak.

My dad ordered the chicken legs with tomato ragu, asparagus, creamy mashed potatos and au jus. This dish was $26, and my dad said that it was one of the best pieces of chicken he had ever eaten. (That's saying a lot, because he's eaten a lot of chicken in his life-time)

I of course ordered the lamb. Honestly, anytime there's lamb on the menu my eyes (and stomach) will gravitate towards it. I ordered my lamb rare, and it came out perfectly. The meat was delicious, and far more fresh than any other lamb I'd tried in the past. The lamb was paired with a compote of tomatoes, pearls of yellow squash and zucchini on a bed of arugala. This mixture was topped with a lovely anise-flavored spaetzle (a dish that my close-friend has often suggested I try... and now I see why) and the three medallions of lamb surrounded the beautiful garnish. This dish was truly a masterpiece. All of the flavors married each other so well; the meat was wonderfully tender, and the vegetables were cooked to perfection. Although it cost $34, I would definitely order this dish again.

My mom had heard that Mosaic Bar and Grill provided those celebrating their birthdays with a lovely chocolate cake, but when we asked our server if there was any chocolate cake tonight for our birthday dinner she regretfully informed us that they had sold out. I was a bit disappointed because I had heard so many great things about their giant chocolate ganache cake, and was really looking forward to sampling it. But, our server was so nice that she told us that we would be able to choose anything we wanted from the dessert menu to have for dessert on-the-house. She was so nice about it, and even brought out my dessert with a little candle on top!
My dad ordered the cheesecake, which we all had a sample of. It was divine! The cheesecake was not too dense, but nice and airy; and, the blueberry compote was delicious as well. This dish would have been $8, but for the b-day guy it was complimentary!

One look at the menu and I knew that I wanted the crème brulée. The dish came served with three miniature madelienes (you can only see one in the above picture), a small cup of caramel macchiato and a ramekin of crème brulée. The madelienes were not as flavorful as I would have liked, I was hoping for some citrus essence but I think it was just plain vanilla. However, when you dunk the madelienes in the caramel macchiato the flavors just explode in your mouth! The brulée itself was superb. The custard had a wonderfully smooth texture and the thick layer of caramelized sugar was perfectly crisp and crunchy. This dish would have been $8 but since it was my b-day it was free!!!

All in all, the dining experience at Mosaic Bar and Grill was one that I will never forget. The atmosphere was wonderful, the staff were very friendly and accomodating. We did not feel rushed at all, and the food was spectacular. I think that the only reason we may not return to this restaurant is that the price-range is a little high. We normally don't spend over $100 on dinner for 3, and even with the coupon and free desserts our bill came to over $100. However, despite the pricey menu I must say that this was one of the most gourmet dining experiences I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying and I would do it again... if only we had another Entertainment book coupon :P

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