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A really busy morning in the office last week delayed my lunch break until well after 2 pm.  Since working in Richmond, a lunch break like that means I’d wander over to Starbucks or order a lunch take-out from a local cafe.  There are days when I am not sure what I want to eat but know that it’s not Starbucks or chinese take-out.  On that particular day, I decided to treat myself to a nice, sit-down lunch at CAVU Kitchen Bar.

I was seated by the window and took a few minutes to look at the menu.  I didn’t have any particular cravings and didn’t know what to order… until I saw the CAVU “Bento” Style Lunch option in bottom right corner.  A small bite three-course meal sounded perfect.  I was disappointed to see that it is only available between noon to 1:30 pm.   😦

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When George (friendly server) came by to take my order, I asked him if it was still possible to order the bento lunch.  I was expecting him to say that it was not available since it was almost 2:30 pm.  To my surprise, he told me he would check.  When he came back, he indicated that they had a spinach salad, vegetarian sandwich and mousse dessert.

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It didn’t take long for my bento lunch to be served.  After taking a couple of quick photos, I started with the spinach salad and worked my way from one side of the plate to the other.  The light touch of vinaigrette on the spinach salad created a refreshing taste to it.  I was delighted to find toasted pumpkin seeds in there as well.  The vegetarian sandwich had roasted red pepper, arugula and provolone cheese on a multigrain bun.  I’m not keen on roasted red peppers but the arugula and provolone cheese was yummy.  Out of the three compartments, my favourite was the chocolate mousse.  It’s unfortunate that the small bite dessert is in a square bowl as the corners were difficult to get to with the spoon.

I was delighted by the taste and presentation of the meal and had a sudden spark of inspiration.  We were looking for a venue for Cris’ farewell lunch and needed to find a place that accepts pre-orders for group bookings.  I asked George for some information and next thing I knew I was speaking to Omer who handed me the Food & Beverage Manager’s business card.

Back in the office, I asked Cris if she had decided on a venue for the farewell lunch.  She indicated that she was still thinking about it so I suggested CAVU.  She had not been to CAVU yet and wanted to try it out.  We arranged to go for lunch the next day so she could check out the restaurant.

We arrived at CAVU and sat in the lounge/bar area.  I watched as Cris looked around her surroundings.  The last time she had been to the restaurant at the Hilton Vancouver Airport was before renovations… when the restaurant was called Carmichael’s.  From what I could tell, she was pleased with what she saw.

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Next came the ordering.  We listened as George told us what was in the bento lunch before confirming our order.  While I cannot remember the specific names of the various compartments, it consisted of a salad, sandwich and dessert item.

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The salad consisted of big leafy kale with some blueberries and tomatoes.  I quite like the flavour of kale and the blueberries added a nice touch of sweetness to it.  The small bite sandwich was a tuna salad sandwich.  We were told that the dessert was a cheesecake, but both Cris and I felt that it didn’t have a cheesecake consistency.  Cris described it to be more like a hybrid jello dessert.  She pinpointed what I thought as well since to me, it didn’t feel (texture and taste) like a cheesecake.

Overall it was a good meal, I really enjoyed the salad but found it a bit difficult to eat the big leaves of the kale.  The bowl presentation looked nice but it made any attempts to cut the leaf into bite size pieces quite tedious.  Okay, I admit.  I looked at the bowl, thought about my knife and fork skills and decided not to bother with trying to cut kale into smaller pieces.  However, I watched Cris try to do so and even watching seemed painful.

After our meal, we asked to speak to Mike (Food & Beverage Manager) to see what arrangements could be made for Cris’ farewell lunch.  Mike was great.  He came out to see us, listened as we briefly went over what we were looking for and even entertained our request to have a couple of bento lunch sets to choose from for the pre-order menu.  He indicated that he would need to check with the chef and would email me with the options.

The turnaround time was quick!  Later that afternoon, I received an email from Mike providing me with general arrangements for the menu options.  By the next morning, Chef Alex sent me a list of pre-order menu options for our group.   The options and their descriptions looked mouth-watering.

After the options were posed to the group, a flurry of emails came back to me indicating pre-order selections.  And, as most organized events would have it, the last-minute emails (definition – after the stated deadline) came flying quickly and furiously AFTER the designated cut-off time.  It’s okay though, I like to build a time-buffer zone so I have time to deal with everything at once.  Actually, it is thanks to Mike and Omer who indicated that as long as the pre-order is more than 3 hours, they can arrange it.  Whew…!  In fact, even up until 15 minutes before the lunch reservation, I received yet another message for someone who forgot to order before the cut-off time.

On the day of Cris’ farewell luncheon, Omer called to confirm the number of people attending. Because of lunch coverage at the office, we split it into two lunch seatings.  Our first group had at least 17 people and the second group was only about 3 or 4 (eating).  Unfortunately, I was in the second group and missed the immediate reactions and responses from the first group.  I also missed the opportunity to take pictures of the other food options on our pre-order menu.  When it was finally my time to attend, Cris had paced herself to made sure that she left some food on her plate to continue eating after we arrived.

Here’s what I ordered:

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My meal consisted of a Caprese Salad with local tomatoes, fresh basil, Arbequina XV Olive Oil, unripened mozzarella and aged balsamic., a Tuscan Villa Sandwich with Grilled chicken, provolone cheese, basil aioli, marinated roma tomato & peppers, balsamic glaze, ciabatta tuscano baguette.  The dessert was a more difficult choice as Chef Alex offered us a Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta or Tiramisu.  However, I was typing up the orders late Wednesday night so when I saw that the popular dessert item was Tiramisu, I decided to help out the Panna Cotta stats.  And.. also because I really like Panna Cotta.

I was really happy with my order.  The salad was refreshing, the sandwich was good and the dessert was tasty.  Our pre-order meal came with a choice of Starbucks coffee, Tazo tea and soft drink.  I picked coffee.  Being the guest of honour, Cris had a bonus dessert. Look what CAVU gave her:

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Before you think that this restaurant gave Cris a corner-nicked piece of cake, no that was not the case.  Cris dug into her dessert before I had a chance to take a photo of the food.

Returning back to the office, I received lots of positive feedback from people who were in the early lunch sitting.  Whew, one big get together done …  thanks to Cris who helped discuss the initial arrangements (for her own farewell lunch) with restaurant.

Also a BIG thank you to Mike, Chef Alex and Omer.  Friendly, attentive and quick in responding to my many questions, (Trust me, I had many questions!) made organizing this farewell lunch simpler than I expected.  On a side note, I literally laughed out loud when Chef Alex responded to my email (updating numbers, etc) and let me know that the first group of attendees were all served and enjoying their meals. 🙂

Thank you very much for all your help, Mike, Chef Alex and Omer!!

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