AnnaLena menu tasting-5

Last week, my husband and I were invited to experience one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants as determined by Air Canada enRoute Magazine winner AnnaLena for a special tasting with wine pairings, courtesy of American Express Canada. We were spoiled by five courses prepared by Chef Mike Robbins and his team.

AnnaLena/Fried chicken, cured salmon, oyster trio amuse
[AnnaLena’s fried chicken, cured salmon, oyster trio amuse]

Each course was a visual moment to behold, from a trio of amuse bouches to smoked sablefish with fried eggplant, daikon noodle, a delicate miso mushroom broth and morsels of crispy chicken skin.

AnnaLena Chef Chef Mike Robbins

Chef Mike Robbins, who opened Kitsilano’s Oakwood Canadian Bistro in 2011, has moved on to start his own restaurant on quiet West 1st Avenue near Burrard.

AnnaLena/Smoked sablefish, fried eggplant, daikon noodle, miso mushroom broth, chicken skin
[Smoked sablefish, fried eggplant, daikon noodle, miso mushroom broth, chicken skin]

AnnaLena is a small, cozy space with a modern ambiance yet it feels comfortable and relaxing from the moment you walk in. The restaurant is named after Robbins’s grandmothers, Anna and Lena. Chef Robbins was one of four BC chefs to compete on Top Chef Canada’s fourth season.

AnnaLena interior

Our favourite dish was the 48-hour boneless Wagyu short rib, with butter-poached King crab, ricotta ravioli, charred onion and Brussels sprouts served in a red wine jus.

AnnaLena/48-hour boneless Wagyu short rib, butter poached King crab, ricotta ravioli, charred onion, Brussel sprouts, red wine jus
[48-hour boneless Wagyu short rib, butter poached King crab, ricotta ravioli, charred onion, Brussel sprouts, red wine jus]

Though the components of the dish were all quite different from one another, the combination of elements made for a spectacular taste sensation, especially when paired with a fine glass of Altesio’s Brunello di Moltalcino, a hearty yet smooth sipper perfect for that tender short rib.

AnnaLena/Prepping Campfire s'mores

The smoke we smelled towards the open kitchen signaled dessert: campfire s’mores, presented in a covered bowl that was lifted by each staff person to reveal a smoke essence together with gourmet coffee ice cream, graham cracker crumb, Swiss meringue and chocolate custard. We were ready to walk back to the kitchen with our spoons for s’more!

AnnaLena/Campfire s'mores

A unique element of this premium dining event was that for the first time ever American Express opened its doors to allow all Canadians to experience the access that American Express Invites and the Front Of The Line program have to offer Cardmembers – even if they don’t currently have an Amex Card. This multi-course affair, as well as other dining, film and concert events nationwide give an exclusive peek at what Amex Cardmembers get to experience all year round!

AnnaLena/Reposado tequila, fernet, mescal, walnut bitters

American Express Invites unlocks the door to amazing and unique experiences from a table at the hottest restaurant in town to tickets to major concerts through its Front Of The Line program. It’s your invitation to the latest must-see productions and biggest blockbusters, a chance to say “I was there”.

Be sure to check out to learn more about some of the hottest upcoming events across the country.

Find AnnaLena at 1809 West 1st Avenue in Vancouver.

About Amex’s ‘Unlock Memorable Moments’

Each year, Amex unlocks about half a million memorable moments for Canadians and by the end of 2015, they will have helped over 400k music fans rock out to their favourite bands. Whatever your style or taste, Amex has an experience for you.

This post produced in partnership with Amex Canada.

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