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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Dine Out Vancouver

Probably many of you have the equivalent of this event in your cities - it's a way to keep restaurants busy during the slowest, deadest, toughest time of the year - January and early February. In Vancouver every year, hundreds of restaurants participate in this event for two weeks. They each have a fixed price menu that generally includes a starter, a main course and dessert.

The restaurants participating range from the burger joint on the corner to the best restaurant in town and the menu prices range from $18 to $38. The minute the list of restaurants goes up on the website, people are booking for Friday and Saturday nights.

I'm not a giant fan of Dine Out. In most restaurants, you're rushed in and out so they can get two full sittings. The food is often not their very best and the service is generally not great. But it is, if you take all of this into account, a great way to try that restaurant you've always wanted to try and couldn't afford, or the restaurant you drive by every day and looks interesting but you know nothing about it - or the type of cuisine it serves.

I often don't eat out at all during Dine Out but this year I went with a couple of friends to a restaurant none of us had ever been to. It's tough getting three people to agree on a restaurant, especially if you all like different things. I'm pretty flexible - I'll eat almost anything - so I started with a list from the website of restaurants I hadn't been to and sounded interesting.

We ended up with Baru Latino, a tiny restaurant way out of my catchment area. I went in expecting nothing and was more than pleasantly surprised. The service was outstanding even though the restaurant was packed. They showed no urgency at getting us in and out, they answered all our questions, and the food more than matched the service. And for me, the size of the meal was exactly right.

Chili prawns for a starter - with just the right amount of sauce, not too spicy, and cooked perfectly. I hate overcooked seafood of any kind. Then beef shortribs that literally fell apart on the plate and tasted like heaven itself. The dessert - remember I'm not really a sweet eater - was a flan. Very nice, though I still prefer creme caramel.

Over all, it's convinced me to try Dine Out Vancouver again next year and to put Baru Latino on my list of go to restaurants.


P.S. The photographs are thanks to Ruby.

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