social restaurant & lounge

I’m going to start this post by admitting a couple of things …

1.  I haven’t eaten at social restaurant & lounge in … years.

2.  My last experience (years ago) wasn’t particularly memorable … and so while I’ve enjoyed many a cocktail at social, I’ve never opted to check out their food menu.

3.  My friend Justin Rogers (the chocolate guy) is the new floor manager.

Ok … now that you know that …

I am going to highly recommend that you give their new menu a try.

Seriously.

It’s pretty awesome.

Let me guess … you’re kinda wondering … how did we go from a blah dining experience to this?

Easy.

Last Friday night – a couple of friends and I decided to get out: you could say it was a  ladies night.  We were aiming for cocktails and decided on social as our lounge of choice.

With that decision made … I let Justin know that we would be coming in … just hoping that we would see one another if he was working.

Well … that’s when Justin and the guys in the kitchen (and the front of the house) pulled out all the stops.

They made a special tasting menu for us.  No lies!  The menu actually said “welcome to the twisted chef and friends” … and it was delicious.  The starters, the mains, and the desserts … all DEE-LIC-IOUS.  The menu was varied, and each dish was carefully thought out.  I can tell you what my absolute favourite dishes were … and I can also tell you that I was not disappointed by a single thing I ate.   

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The evening started off with a couple of starters.

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hand cut tenderloin / egg yolk / pommery mustart / shallot / chive / tabasco / smoked maldon salt / crostini

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rustic terrine / prune gastrique / pistachio / smoked maldon / arugula

My favourite of the two starters was the tartar.  I just kept piling little bits of the tartar on the crostini.  Melt in your mouth deliciousness. 

Having said that … don’t count out the rabbit terrine.  It was so texturally interesting … although I did find it a little salty.  This is when I learned how a good pairing can enhance your food experience.  Completely.  Justin paired the rabbit terrine with Armagnac de Montal.  It went from being salty to sweet.  Oh my goodness. 

Incredible.

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qualicum bay scallops / pumpkin risotto / ginger lacquer / spiced sage espuma

My favourite dish of the evening.  Hands down … The.Best.

The scallop was perfectly seared … my fork just cut right through it.  And when paired with the pumpkin risotto … sigh.  A million sighs of happiness.  It was light and flavourful.  I would gladly return just for a plate of this.

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house pancetta wrapped 1/2 bird / thyme / yam cornbread / squash purée / caramelized shallot jus

The pheasant was good.  It didn’t taste birdie (you know what I mean … when poultry just tastes too bird-like).  It looked and smelled so good that the vegetarian at the table couldn’t resist and ate half her portion.  The star of the plate though … was the squash purée.  We ladies liked it so much that we requested an extra portion of it … and proceeded to lick the plate clean.

You’d think after the first 4 dishes (and their pairings) we’d be full.

Have you ever met a girl who’s too full for dessert????

Especially a Justin Rogers dessert????

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milk chocolate peanut butter mousse / compressed brownie / hazelnut cocolate bar / concord grape jelly

Mother of pearl.

That dessert. 

You.Must.Go.And.Try.It.

Seriously.  This was a must.love.food moment.  I can tell you the chocolate peanut butter mousse – light and creamy.  The compressed brownie – dark and rich and decadent.  The hazelnut chocolate bar added a nice crunch … plus who doesn’t love hazelnut when eating chocolate?  None of us could stop eating.

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upside down cranberry ginger cake / malted ice cream / cab franc ice wine reduction

This was a nice contrast to the chocolate dessert … but you have to love ginger to fully appreciate this option.  The spice of the ginger kind of took over the entire dish.  The ice cream played off the spice … but I have to admit … it’s the chocolate dessert we kept going back to (not that we didn’t clean this plate too!).20121108-113834.jpg

I wanted to also point out the incredible work in the kitchen.  Executive Chef Matt Hall, Sous Chef Richie Lo Presti, and Chef Jordan Holley (who I’m told is the one responsible for most of the new menu changes).  Mike Burke and Justin Rogers did the dessert menu, but it was actually Mario & William who plated the desserts for us.  Everything was beautifully plated, but more importantly … everything was cooked to perfection and delightful.  Oh yeah … and smart.  This was a smart menu. 

Thank you guys for testing these new dishes on us.  I think you can tell that I really truly appreciated my experience.

If you keep serving this kind of food … you won’t be able to keep me away!

carmichael’s absolutely fabulous food

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carmichael's absolutely fabulous food

it started with a salmon taco … which quickly became a double order. then we moved on to shrimp dumplings and the spectacularly brilliant lobster pasta and justin roger’s opera cake. which meant we had to go back the following night and order more salmon tacos, tomato and mozza salad and the steak frites. it was amazing. AMAZING.

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*apologies for the delay in posting this blog … I hope that if you tuned in last Sunday this brings back happy chocolate thoughts … and if you missed the episode … perhaps you’d like to tune in on Saturday at 1 pm for the rerun … and don’t forget to watch the “decorating” of the mousse cake

must.love.food. was all about chocolate this week.

Dark chocolate ganache.

White chocolate ganache.

Ganache covered almond marzipan sponge cake.

Lemon white chocolate chocolates.  With a twist.

If you wanted a little insight into chocolate … I think this episode was for you.

When I first started “story boarding” must.love.food., I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to do an episode with Justin Rogers.

Justin is my chocolate guru. 

He is creativity and fun and talent all rolled into one. 

And he has a wicked sense of humour.

I think that the episode demonstrated that … as well as Justin’s attention to detail.

I guess you need to be that precise when you make something not only delicious … but oh so beautiful.