Dining Like It’s 1999


Tonight I took Sarah and her parents to Lumière restaurant to dine like it’s 1999. After all, we are in the middle of a new Dot Com boom. Everything is going up, up, up, and what better way to celebrate wicked excess than to dine at Vancouver’s highest of high end restaurants? I invited Stephen Fung and his girlfriend Kelly, to come along because it was Kelly’s birthday and Stephen was the only other person, besides me, who is dumb enough to spend this kind of money eating out.

Lumière is own by Iron Chef America champion Rob Feenie. The restaurant has won every award you can imagine, including the AAA 5 Diamond Award. Lumière has also won Vancouver magazine’s best French restaurant award 9 years in a roll.

While Sarah and I have dined at Lumière before, this is the first time for her parents and Stephen and his girlfriend. I’m sure Stephen will be blogging about his experience when he wakes up in the morning. In the mean time, this is what we ate.

Amuse Bouche


This was a small starter dish that most high end restaurants serves to prepare your taste buds for the dishes to come. It was quite refreshing

Tuna Tartar


This was the other starter dish. We order two different tasting menus; the Kitchen menu and the Seafood menu. The tuna was the starter for the Seafood. I liked it more than the Amuse Bouche.

Barbecued Ell & Pine Mushroom Terrine


This dish was made with a Dungeness crab salad and a miso and sake vinaigrette. It’s hard to describe the taste but it was really good. The crab kinda overpowered the dish however.

Foie Gras Torchon


Foie Gras Torchon rolled in gingerbread powder, with date purée and orange blossom brioche. You can’t go to a high end French restaurant and not order Foie Gras! The Foie Gras was prepared differently than the last time I had Foie Gras at Lumière. I much preferred the simple pan speared Foie Gras than this terrine style dish. It was still very good.

Pan Seared Scallop


Pan seared scallop with geoduck sashimi, green papaya and root vegetable remoulade, citrus and espelette pepper vinaigrette. Wow is all I can say about this dish.

Pheasant Boudin Blanc


This was an amazing dish. Pheasant Boudin Blanc with leek, ricotta & lemon ravioli, chanterelle cream and yellowfoot chanterelles. The dish was like the softest piece of meat you have ever tasted – it just melted in your mouth. In addition, the sauce was very rich but not overpowering.

Roasted Sablefish


Roasted Sablefish with gallo mussels, shitake and shimiji mushroom bouillon, fresh water chestnut brunoise and young sorrel greens. The sablefish was great but the stuff around it seems to be presenting their own taste instead of complimenting the fish.

Pan Seared Magret


Pan Seared Magret with fork mashed olive oil sunchoke, glazed chestnuts. What really stood out about this dish was the wine. The Sommelier did a perfect job matching the wine to this dish. We had a different glass of wine with each dish but this one really stood out.

Nicola Valley Venison Shank


Nicola Valley Venison Shank with beetroot barley, roasted salsify and venison jus. I really would like to know how Lumière could cook their meat so tender. It must have something to do with that million dollar kitchen. This was definitely one of the best shanks I’ve ever had.

Grill Rare Yellowfin Tuna


Grill Rare Yellowfin Tuna with flageolet bean ragout, ratatouille and red wine lobster sauce. This dish shows food presentation at its finest. If you look at the grill marks on the tuna, you’ll see that the marks flow continuously from one side of the fish to the next! It tastes as good as it looks.

Cheese Tasting Break


After the main course, but before the desserts, a selection of domestic and imported cheeses is served along with some thinly sliced fruit and nut bread. The two imported cheeses on the left were my favorite. The Sommelier scored again with a perfect wine to go with the cheese.

Pineapple Ravioli


Pineapple Ravioli with mango mousse and passion fruit syrup, cilantro sugar. Only a restaurant like Lumière can turn a pineapple into a ravioli. One of the most creative desserts I’ve ever tried.

Auour Pear


Auour Pear with jasmine tea foam and passion fruit sorbet. I haven’t tasted pear this sweet since that gift basket Shopping.com set me a year ago. The basket had pears that cost $10 each. I wonder if Lumière uses the same pears?

Chocolate Fondant


Chocolate Fondant with pink praline ice cream, berry compote and cocoa nib nougatine. The Sommelier scores a hat trick with this dish. The wine he selected for the fondant was dead on perfect.

Chestnut Creme Caramel


Chestnut Creme Caramel with cocoa walnut slice and brandied agen prune coulis, spiced orange caramel. There were a lot of different favors in this dessert but they all worked well together. No one item overpowered the other.



At the end of the last course, we were served a tower of homemade cookies and chocolate. By this time, we were all full and just put it in a box to take home

The Bill


Lumière’s position as Vancouver’s most expensive restaurant remains unchallenged. While the bill may give some a heart attack, Lumière is in fact quite reasonable for a restaurant at this level. If Rob Feenie were to operate a Lumière in a big market city like New York or Chicago, the bill could very well be twice as high. Still, Sarah’s parents almost fainted when they saw how much dinner cost.

Dinner lasted 4 hours from start to finish. If you dine at Lumière then you should really enjoy the company of the person you’re with because you’re going to be stuck with him or her for a long time! I don’t recommend Lumière as a first date restaurant. I don’t recommend Lumière as a second or third date restaurant. I have taken only 3 girls to Lumière and I ended up marrying one of them. That’s the kind of restaurant Lumière is.

A person with a sharp eye may notice that Lumière worked out the tips for me so I don’t have to. Gee, wasn’t that nice of them? At least the valet parking was complimentary.

Lumière on Urbanspoon

68 thoughts on “Dining Like It’s 1999”

  1. Ed says:

    Now, that’s what I am talking about, everything looked great and I am sure it tasted better. As I was rolling down on the pics, I was becoming more hungry, suddenly, when I saw the bill, I wasn’t hungry anymore..


  2. Wes says:

    lol I’m a college student, thats my 2 months rent right there.

  3. Guk says:

    That bill is wicked…

  4. wicked bill for ‘wicked’ menu LOL

  5. Kenneth Langbrook says:

    What a ridiculous waste of money. You’re one of the people I hope is taken down by the web 2.0 bust. How do you spend $1300 on dinner when millions of people go starving at night?

  6. John Chow says:

    Kenneth – I can spend $1300 really well. I also know how much I give to charities every year. How about you?

  7. Lynx says:

    Dont the waitors get a bit suspious when you’re taking photos of all the food?

    You might be a chef stealing ideas for all they know.

    Im based in the UK and if you took pics of Gordon Ramseys food you’d be thrown out the door with a lot of f words following you out.

  8. HMTKSteve says:

    They enforce an 18% tip?

    I give 20% when everything is good and less when everything is not as good.

    A tip is not a right, it is a bonus for good service.

    Any place that enforces a tip would not get my business!

  9. Nomar says:

    oh my god.. check the bill lol :p

    damn, getting hungry from those pictures.. ***running for a bag of chips***

  10. mac says:


  11. Pedro Pais says:

    There goes my monthly salary…

  12. Gdog says:

    Wow, that looked like an amazing dinner. You gotta love the 18% autograt!

  13. Matt says:

    “CHEESE 45.00”

    Thanks for the good laugh! Back to my hamburger helper 🙁

  14. Stephen says:

    The first line is for WATER or “Antipodes SPK”. It’s a type of sparkling water. Three bottles: $28.50. At Costco, you could stock at corner store with the amount of water you could buy.

    That meal was just decadent and the flavours were great, but I think that WEST was actually a better dining experience. My stomach didn’t feel as heavenly this time. Maybe it was the Kobe Style beef in the menu at WEST. Lumière had better service though. However, including the tip is a bit cheesy. Like HMKSteve said, a tip is a bonus for good service.

    In most places in the world, it is for service above and beyond the call of duty, and some are offended when you tip because it means you pity them for their station in life. Here, a tip is expected, no matter what type of service you get. If you tip under these conditions, you are just making it OK for people to give crappy service.

  15. cayne says:

    Looks good, but I prefer rock-solid food and a shitload of it. Not these tiny portions…
    Including a tip of 200 bucks is a bit cheesy too and I’m with Lynx on the question of taking pics of every meal you received…

  16. Mayo says:

    John why didn’t you just ordered Chef to come to your house, if you bought the groceries and prepared the less complicated dishes and left the the rest to the Chef it would cost you half of that i.e. 750$ (that is if the Chef who you hired you charged 150$ an hour and prepaired the dishes for 5 hours …. and that is a lot of time … pro chef can cook you complete dinner in under 3.5 hours … for me it would take with all the recepies around 7 hours 🙂 )

    Just my opinion, it would be more coolish that you learned how to prepare dishes and served them, now even if i owned the hotel (and i will if God has mercy 😉 ) i would enjoy 100X times more preparing all of it my self.

    Do you know who would i get to restaurant?? A person that doesn’t interest me so much and i would see him only once or twice a year — and only for business, maybe not even then… if the person is of my liking i would have a special evening with complete dishes, personalized music, et.al. also i tend to get girls out for drink and for dinner to my house where I prepare dishes 😉

  17. Rex says:

    is that CDN?

  18. Austin says:

    Yeah I have been wondering the same thing as a few other’s here since I saw your first resturaunt post with pics. Has any of the owners come and ask you why are you taking a pictures of their food? Or, have you ever gotten dirty look? What about Sarah’s parents, did you have to explain to them why you take pictures of their meals every time you all go out?

    Anyways, all of that looked really good and the price tag isn’t all that bad I suppose. But you are right in saying that it isn’t a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th, or whatever number date kindof place. That seems like a resturaunt that you propose in.

  19. David Mackey says:

    Wow. Thats a heck of a lot of money. I’m a bit of a beef and potatoes man myself. I get scared by foods with so many ingredients.

  20. SJNG says:

    John, you may want to do a “history” on the word tips. It is actually an acronym for: To Insure Proper Service. That said, it is bogus for a restaurant to include gratuity on the bill. Especially such a high end restaurant. Their wait staff should already be “so good” that the servers don’t need to rely on a gratuity guarantee.

  21. Soultrance says:

    I’ve always wanted to try Lumiere. My wife and I live just a few blocks away from the restaurant and it seems like it’d be really nice, though I doubt it could rival Cin Cin on Robson.

    I took her their for her birthday 2 years ago and we spent around $325 on the tasting menu’s and wine accompaniment, but it was well worth it. The entire meal was fantastic and served to perfection. The wines were delicious and the service was brilliant, and I got to choose what tip I wanted to leave.

    Next time, I recommend giving Cin Cin a try, you won’t regret it.



  22. Mayo says:

    John, this menu is per person??? i.e. all you listed above is what each of you ate personally?? i.e. this photos are for each of 6 of you?

    well then i must retrograde and say it’s well worth to spend 200$ per person for four-five hours of pleasant chatting 🙂

  23. Mayo says:

    I’m not personally accustomed to long half day meals, this is more Italian style where you wine and dine from 1 P.M. to 6-7 P.M., but after that i have to take some heavy digestive aid so i can go to bed and have a decent sleep without stomach problems 🙂

  24. John Chow says:

    The 18% auto tips is only applied when the group is six or more. The service level at Lumière does warrant an 18% tips. They changed the plates and all the knifes & forks after every dish. I’m sure their dishwasher is on all the time. I agree that it should be left to the diner to decide tips level.

    Restaurants here (at least the one I’ve dined at) don’t have any problems with you taking pics of the food. They even go out of their way to make the plate looks just right. On one of the dishes, as the server was placing it down, a small section at the top went lopsided. Sarah said it was fine but the server took it back to correct it. We were hoping to get a photo with Rob Feenie himself, but he was out of town.

    I agree with Stephen that the food at Lumière didn’t match West Restaurant. Lumière seem to have lost a bit of its edge since the last dining experience.

    Soultrance – I’ve been to Cin Cin. It’s very good and I would recommend it but Lumière is better. I highly recommend you try it.

    Mayo – That is the menu per person. Well it’s really the menu per two person. The guys ordered the Kitchen menu and the girls ordered the Seafood menu. We ate half, then switched. This way we got the sample both menus.

  25. HMTKSteve says:

    Oh yes, you paid in Canadian money right?

    So, how much was that bill in real money?

    When you report on monthly earnings, are those real dollars or Canadian dollars?


  26. John Chow says:

    Steve – LOL! Yes the bill is Canadian. I uses to have a great time with this because I get paid in US dollar but I pay for stuff here in CDN. A US dollar uses to be worth $1.60 CDN. Now it’s worth $1.10. You guys need to do something to get your dollar back up! If this keeps up, a CDN will be worth more than USD!

    The rise of the Canadian dollar has been the biggest killer of my online income.

  27. Why did you blocked my trackback? =|

  28. John Chow says:

    I didn’t block anything. Did you send one? Must have been the Akismet spam filter. Try it again.

  29. G says:

    Awesome pictures! I am a foodie, and for my money a night out at Lumiere is much better value than a Canucks game or a concert. The whole Lumiere experience is excellent. From valet, to hostess, to bartender, to waiter, to servers everyone makes you feel welcome and delivers outstanding service.

    Now how about some pictures from Vij’s or Hapa Izakaya? 🙂

  30. HMTKSteve says:

    Indeed… The fall of the dollar has probably cut your income in half!

  31. Straaaange…i’ll send it again =)

  32. Michael says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Lumiere, but I could never convince myself to spend that kind of coin. Then again, I have been to Morton’s and Gotham, and even eating modestly, the bill came to $200 for two people.

    Seeing how you’re quite the foodie yourself, can you recommend a nice restaurant in the Granville and 12th area? I was planning on taking the gf to Beauty and the Beast at the Stanley and wanted a nice place to eat around there beforehand or afterwards. I already know about Vij’s. How’s Red Door?

  33. You should be ashamed of yourself. If you wish to indulge that is great, but, to flaunt it on the net is a little too much. I am an American Vietnam Vet living in Thailand and the parents of kids that saw this post make $2.50 a day and hope to have a pair of shoes to wear year round for all their children. I also have a friend at http://www.world-wide-walk.org that is walking around the globe in an effort to raise AIDS awareness and funds for AIDS Orphans. So far he has walked form Ireland to Rome, Italy. Skip you next meal and donate a few bucks.

  34. Kenn Klick says:

    Awesome meal and one to savor, which is the gift of the French to the gustatory experience. I’m certain this will also expand your search engine hits with all those juicy words and descriptions! 🙂

  35. Bryce says:

    Three Words: Seven Deadly Sins.

  36. Martin says:

    ouch, very nice post John. I was always wondering who can visit these types of restaurants, so now I know =)

    and by the way, this is probably bill in american dollars, which makes quite a difference against canadian ones…

  37. John Chow says:

    Michael – I would recommend Bacchus at 845 Hornby St.

    Michael Glatz – If this is your first visit to my blog, I understand. If you’ve been visiting for a while then you would know I post about my dining experiences. I admire what your friend is doing and I donate more than a few bucks to worthwhile causes. I am a believer in you get what you give. That is why I have what I have.

    Bryce – How many sins you think that was? 🙂

  38. HMTKSteve says:

    John, I’ve got a paypal account that could use some of that money 😉

  39. Dave says:

    That looked like some REALLY good food! I am envious and you’re right the price while high is not outrageous for that level of cuisine. Nice pics by the way.

  40. JuanFlaiter says:

    Looks quite nice, speciallly the Tuna.

    BTW the Brazilian trackback link is not very friendly, is something critizicing that “crappy meal” after millions of people die in the street.

  41. Ed Lau says:

    I don’t know why everyone is on John’s ass for taking his family out to a nice dinner. It’s not like he stole the money from an old lady or something…although he’s certainly evil enough to do so. This is a democratic capitalist society. We choose to help out others and we also choose to do things that our standard of living in a first world country allows. Are you saying we should all wear potato sacks and eat gruel? Head to a communist country if you think we shouldn’t be able to enjoy anything.

    Vancouver has some incredibly nice restaurants and Lumiere is certainly one of the best. I’ve only been once but I’d recommend it to anyone. Of course, my bill was smaller since I only had to pay for two…and yes, it’s certainly not a third date place…lol

  42. John Chow says:

    JuanFlaiter – I know. I ran it through the translator. 🙂 My response would be to read Ed’s comment.

  43. That food does look amazing, but I prefer Ruth’s Chris for only about $60 a plate.

  44. Lawrence says:

    That girl looks out of your friend’s league.

  45. John Chow says:

    Lawrence – Stephen likes to aim high.

  46. $1314.37?! Man.. what do you do and how do you do it so well? I’m so envious.

  47. Ed Lau says:

    John is a whore.

    He’ll tell you what kind.

  48. ian says:

    To all those criticizing John for spending so much on a meal – he earned the money, let him spend it however he wants. Just because there are starving people in the world doesn’t mean those who are smart or lucky enough to have money should just dole it all out to those who don’t. One of the benefits of our society is that through hard work we can grow wealthy. Why should anyone feel ashamed about spending money that they worked hard to make?

  49. Vik says:

    John, how about donating some money for good cause instead of wasting it on such fancy dinners. Just a thought 😉

  50. Vik says:

    Woops, just read the other comments. Please disregard my previous post.

  51. Michael Kwan says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, but I’ve been to Bacchus already (quite good). I was actually hoping for something in around the Granville area closer to the Stanley Theatre (12th Avenue or so).

  52. John Chow says:

    Oh the Stanley! Doh! I don’t know why I was thinking downtown. The place you want to go is West Restaurant. It’s simply the best!

  53. Ben says:

    Next time you dine there, please ask if they have any waiter positions open! Damn…

  54. Derrich says:

    I’m hungry. Just not THAT hungry.

  55. Cameron Wilmot says:

    $10 bucks John wrote it off as a business expensive – you don’t afford a dinner like that without having a clue about business and money.

  56. Jay says:

    But that’s $1,300 _Canadian_. That’s like $25 *real* dollars. 😉

    (I know: it’s closer to $1,100.)

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  58. Jeremy says:

    Enjoyed the expose on your extravagant dining. I added a note in my past post about mandatory tipping. Major pet peeve of mine. You should have the opportunity and choice to tip as you feel appropriate to the service received. Hopefully I did the trackback right. Still figuring that one out.

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