6555 Fraser St.
Signature Drink: Chai, of course…
Signature Dish: Lamb rogan gosh
Dinner & drinks for two: $65
The area around Main Street and East 49 Ave. has always been known as Little India, with the appropriate number of curry spots, larger dining rooms and fabric and jewelery stores. Nearby Fraser St., however, is where the locals of the area congregate on a daily basis. This is where the banks and grocery shops are, the sushi and pizza joints, the post office and pharmacy. And this is also where the Dhaliwal group of restaurants decided to open the latest incarnation of their popular Surrey restaurant, Dhoom, along with its next-door sweet shop.
Despite its name, Dhoom gives the impression of anything but. The interior has been done up with tiled floors, high-backed dark velvet banquets and booths, linen tablecloths, and 3-D photo murals on the walls. The waving dried bamboo sticks over the large windows give privacy without taking away the light, and although there is a flat screen over the bar, showing the requisite hockey game, it was muted and unobtrusive.
I don’t know if you have experienced this, but one of my pet peeves is being in a quiet restaurant and experiencing excruciatingly slow and inattentive service. Happily, Dhoom has its act together on all fronts. Despite the fact that, on a recent visit, we were the only ones in the restaurant, the server seemed happy to greet us, checked in on us frequently, cleared away unused plates and glasses, and delivered our food with a promptness that declared the kitchen was fully staffed and ready to go.
As for the menu, the prices are more than reasonable. $65 (plus tip) for two people had me and P. stuffing ourselves silly, and still taking home a large bag of goodies for lunch the next day.
Cocktails are all priced at a ridiculous $6.50, but be warned; our bartender/server obviously has a free hand with the liquor. My cosmo (served with some ice and a couple of olives…interesting) tasted like it had at least three ounces of the good stuff, if not more, and I had to leave it. The chai, on the other hand, is outstanding, freshly brewed, and perfectly balanced with cardamom and milk. If you really need some hooch with your tandoori, stick to the house wines, which are both Mission Hill, or one of the bottled beers, of which there is a decent selection.
Paneer pakora ($6.95), those lovely cheese fritters, were moist on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside, and the tamarind sauce was obviously just made. One order was more than large enough for both of us, which was too bad, as we had also ordered some garlic naan ($1.95) and vegetable raita ($3.95) to enjoy before our mains showed up.
For mains, we went with the chicken tikkha masala ($11.95) and the lamb rogan josh ($11.50), sided with some fragrant, long-grain jasmine rice ($3.99) that was cooked with cumin, cilantro and peas. Although we had asked for medium spiciness for both, they definitely were leaning more to the hot side, and some emergency lassi was required.
Dessert was a pleasant surprise—and a nice cool-down for our overheated tastebuds. Something that is pronounced “rabdi falludi” ($5) sounded odd when described—noodles, pistachio ice cream, rose water and petals—but tasted amazing when it arrived. The noodles in question were the skinny insta-noodle type you find in Mr. Noodles packets, but, somehow, with the ice cream and rose water, this gave a lovely texture to the dish. Gulab jamun ($2) was your typical serving of hot, sweet, deep-fried cheese balls in honey and rose syrup, and definitely took care of the sweet tooth for the night.
Despite a few hiccups, Dhoom is a great neighbourhood addition to busy Fraser Street, and I am going back soon for that rabdi-whatever.
B.C. Wine and the HST
As if you needed another reason to buy direct from a winery. With the HST coming into play on July 1, the five per cent GST and 10 per cent PST liquor tax on wine sales will be replaced by the 12 per cent HST. Theoretically, this means you should be saving three per cent on your liquor purchases, but, unfortunately, the LDB has adjusted their prices so that consumers won’t be getting any savings. Purchases direct from wineries like Laughing Stock Vineyards, however, are not subject to the LDB’s price increases. Laughing Stock has announced that they will adjust their prices for July 1 so consumers will see a difference in their favour. Hopefully, more wineries will join in and we can find at least one thing to celebrate about the HST.
The Granville Island Farmer’s Market opens today in Triangle Square, and will continue every Thursday throughout the summer from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wine and polish?
On June 11 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., a South African wine tasting will be held at the 39th & Cambie Signature BC Liquor Store. Free to the public, it also includes bites from Hart House restaurant and complimentary mini spa treatments from Spa Utopia. Plus, enter to win a deluxe spa and hotel package from Spa Utopia and Pan Pacific Vancouver worth $1,000. woza.co.za
Afternoon Tea—French Style
Provence Marinaside has relaunched Le Grand Thé, the French version of afternoon tea, complete with organic teas and coffees, savoury canapés and sweet tarts like the orange lavender shortbread and petite tarte au citron. $20 per person. Available Monday to Saturday, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 604-681-4144 for details.
Food in Brief
It seems the humble café is having a heyday. The past months have seen three newcomers to downtown and Gastown, including Sweeney’s in Yaletown, and Everything Café and Acme Café in Gastown. The pies at the latter are worth a trip all by themselves.