Fishworks in North Vancouver: A Review

Despite living in North Vancouver for many years, we ate at Fishworks for the first time this past Sunday. Fishworks was created to fill a void for great seafood on the North Shore and embraces timeless dishes with a contemporary feel. The menu had lots of amazing options.

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I dined on the tuna tataki and the Fishworks Bouillabaisse. I’m a sucker for a good bouillabaisse and I am so glad that this did not disappoint. I find it’s ether a dish that disappoints or it’s lovely! At Fishworks, the portions were huge, I couldn’t even finish! Neither could Ianiv finish his carbonara!

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Date night logo not good kids

Our service at the restaurant was great, though we ended up closing up the place. We arrived at 8:30 and were told the kitchen closed at 9, though I wasn’t warned about that when reserving. I was actually surprised to find the restaurant empty so early! Any idea why this could be?!

The only downside to the night for me was a really terrible martini! I did not enjoy the olives at all (they tasted like soap?!), so as a ‘dirty’ martini, the whole drink was ruined for me. 

The Active Mama Restaurant Review Guide names Fishworks as date-night worthy(heart) and a girls night contender (martini), but not a kid-friendly choice. Though I’m all for taking kids to nice restaurants, they have to really enjoy seafood to come with you here!

Fishworks
91 Lonsdale Avenue
North Vancouver

The Lobby at the Pinnacle at the Pier: Girls Night and Beyond!

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This week, I met up with a group of girlfriends for a much needed Girls Night at The Lobby Restaurant at Pinnacle at the Pier.

Girls nights don’t happen nearly often enough, but when they do, we often do them in North Vancouver to keep it simple for everyone to get there. We often struggle to find a place that can accommodate up to a dozen people at once, so we were happy that our party size was not an issue at The Lobby at the Pinnacle at the Pier.

We were seated in the lounge section of the restaurant at a booth / chair area with about 4 tables pushed together. Our Girls Night was on a Thursday, so we sadly missed the live music, but that could be fun for a future date night! (Update: saw the live music on a subsequent visit – amazing!)

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We shared a bunch of appetizers for our group, including the Charcuterie and Artisan Cheese platter (lovely assortment), the mussels in a white wine sauce and some calamari, which were fried up with some jalapeños, which I quite enjoyed. The dinner menu was impressive, offering an assortment of simple fare such as cod & chips and striploin to more adventurous fare such as the beet gnocchi I had for dinner! The gnocchi were super tender and delicious with the kale – a simple but fresh dinner, I loved it!

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Now, while we had great things to say about the food, our service was not perfect. We struggled to get the attention of the servers and were rarely asked if we needed anything – more menus, drink orders, food. I don’t know if this is typical of the restaurant, but it wasn’t a great first impression for many of us. So, aside from that, I had a very positive experience!

Update (June 2015): We’ve since been a second time for a girls night and had fantastic service, so I’m glad to see that a new service manager has transformed The Lobby for the better!! I had an amazing meal my second visit of the tuna tataki (great spice on the crust) and the seafood chowder (very light and refreshing). We always had a server on hand to refill glasses unprompted and who was very attentive overall. 

Beyond Girls Night at The Lobby Restaurant

I had the opportunity to visit The Lobby Restaurant for breakfast and found the menu quite extensive and the hours extremely flexible for kids. The breakfast menu begins at 6:30 daily, with a weekend brunch option at 11am. Given that most restaurants don’t offer an early breakfast option, I’m excited to find somewhere new to take the kids very soon! Hello, chocolate pancakes! Although not listed on their website, they offer a simple kids menu throughout the day. I could see taking the kids here so we could enjoy some finer dining, or having a date night to enjoy a multi-course dinner. I’m a bit of a sucker for a taster menu, and I noticed online that they offer a 3-course dinner menu!

Despite inattentive service, The Lobby at the Pinnacle at the Pier receives a triple check from my new Active Mama Restaurant Guide. 

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Introducing the Active Mama Restaurant Review Guide:

It came to mind that perhaps I should begin building out a series of resources on local eateries – the best for families, for date nights and for girls nights. So, you’ll now see a little logo in my review posts that will show up to 3 icons indicating if they are family-friendly (thumbs up), date-night worthy (heart), or a girls night contender (martini).

Over time, I plan to put together a list of my favourites for each category (as well as further break-downs like lunch spots or food types) and build out a list of top spots in North (and West) Vancouver. 

Disclosure: we were given some complimentary items as part of the girls night party. All reviews are my own. 

Food at Disney Aulani: Restaurant Reviews

Disney Aulani offers a wide range of dining options, far more than our experience visiting the resort 3 years ago. The dining options range from inexpensive poolside fare to more elegant dining experiences – and who can forget the buffet! We ate on property for all meals except one, so here’s a rundown of our impressions on Dining at Disney Aulani.

This post gives you everything you need to know about the restaurants, where to buy snacks, and even whether to use the unlimited drinks option.

‘AMA‘AMA – Most Elegant Option, Healthiest Kids Menu

‘AMA’AMA is the most elegant of the dining options featuring more local & island-inspired fare, an open-air restaurant facing the Ko Olina beach. The service here is excellent, with an assortment of more refined dining options that we quite appreciated. I loved the seafood curry! I would even say that this was the BEST place for kids to eat – though upscale, the food was healthy!

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For a full review of this restaurant, read my post here. We had more to say than space would allow!

Makahiki – Buffet Dining Done Right, Home of the Disney Character Breakfast

We went to Aulani having already experienced the buffet experience at Makahiki and were not disappointed in our return. Though some dishes may be rather standard buffet fare, the rest of the buffet will surely impress, particularly if you’re a fan of seafood. 

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Makahiki also serves a breakfast buffet, which is part of the Disney Character Breakfast, also known as “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at Makahiki.” Though you need to reserve this breakfast in advance (even before you arrive, for the best times), it is a must-do for any visit to Aulani (or Oahu for that matter)!

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Read the very detailed review of this restaurant here.

The ‘Ōlelo Room – Lounge with Live Music

The ‘Ōlelo Room is adjacent to the Makahiki, a small lounge that boasts live music daily. For early diners, the ‘Ōlelo Room boasts a reduced price ‘happy hour’ menu between 5-7pm, boasting about half their full menu at reduced prices of $5 or $7 each. The first night we ate here, we tried to get more kid-friendly items, including the pupu (a sausage in a bun), the garlic fries (too garlicky), and the nachos from the happy hour menu. It wasn’t the fanciest food, but it was ok. 

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Dining at Aulani’s Makahiki and the Disney Character Breakfast

We went to Aulani having already experienced the buffet experience at Makahiki and were not disappointed in our return. Though some dishes may be rather standard buffet fare, the rest of the buffet will surely impress, particularly if you’re a fan of seafood. We started our two dinners here with plates loaded with crab legs, shrimp, sashimi and sushi.

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The rest of the buffet was also quite tempting, including the carving station and all the great International food options. Though I tried a couple of things I didn’t love, nothing was horrible and all seemed to be refreshed on a regular basis. 

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The kids had their own special buffet section, with the fried and processed food so common at US buffets, but were not limited to the buffet only. I was able to fill their plates with a wider variety of raw and cooked veggies, more palatable pastas and meats, and even pizza. Of course, for them, dessert was the real winner! The chocolate pudding with gummy worm was their favourite, followed by the marshmallow pops. 

Disney Character Breakfast

Makahiki also serves a breakfast buffet, which is part of the Disney Character Breakfast, also known as “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at Makahiki.” Though you need to reserve this breakfast in advance (even before you arrive, for the best times), it is a must-do for any visit to Aulani (or Oahu for that matter)!

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For breakfast at the Makahiki, the variety was just as impressive. The breakfast buffet is available only as part of the Disney Character Breakfast, which includes a visit with Mickey, plus friendly visits from Goofy and Minnie while you dine, alongside some live entertainment. 

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As far as food was concerned, the fresh fruit was plentiful, particularly if you went to the Island fruits section on the end to get the spiced pineapple and other more specialty treats! (This is in the same area the sushi is placed for the dinner buffet.) Though I wasn’t a fan of the meats available (bacon, sausage, etc) at the buffet or any other restaurant – way too salty and dry – everything else was delicious. The omelette station was great. The kids loved the Mickey waffles!

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Makahiki is an expensive buffet (turns out Damien was free!), but if you select the higher quality foods (seafood, fresh fruit, chef-creations), you’ll get your money’s worth! I would suggest earlier times for breakfast and dinner, as it is far less busy and you are ensured both more space and attentive service. I would say the breakfast is a “must”, as Aulani is so Disney-toned-down that this is your one time to really have the Disney experience. 

Since we had such a great time at Disney Aulani, I’ve created a series of reviews of our experience, including some tips on how to make the most of your stay with your family. For the full series of reviews, check here.

‘AMA‘AMA – A Disney Aulani Restaurant Review

‘AMA’AMA is the most elegant of the dining options featuring more local & island-inspired fare. The open-air restaurant faces the Ko Olina beach offering a stunning vista for sunsets and a very beautiful and open feel to any meal. 

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‘AMA’AMA offers an assortment of more refined dining options that we quite appreciated. I loved the seafood curry! The menu featured a lot of seafood, though also other delicious options appealing to an International audience. The food was much more healthy, fresh and flavourful than any other restaurant at Disney Aulani.

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We found the kids menu was the BEST here of all restaurants, offering more healthy options that included grilled chicken (Aiden loved it), beef brisket, or fish, served with rice and a veggie (ours was corn, quite overdone, but still appreciated). The kids are also treated here with a meal that includes dessert (the standard fruit cup or more decadent options). All kids receive an activity page and paper, which does help, but if you do go with younger kids (as we did), be prepared to either quicken the pace of your dinner OR perhaps take advantage of the babysitting services offered in the hotel. 

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We ate here twice – with the kids – and enjoyed both meals. Well, our kids were a bit of a handful for the second night, but that was our issue! 

The price of food is steep here, but you’ll enjoy your meal and the service is excellent! Splurge at least once for ‘AMA’AMA.

Since we had such a great time at Disney Aulani, I’ve created a series of reviews of our experience, including some tips on how to make the most of your stay with your family. For the full series of reviews, check here.