AnnaLena’s Exquisite Five-Course Wine-Pairing Dinner: An American Express Cardmember Perk

Chef Mikey Robbins has officially joined the ranks of Canada’s top chefs. Nine months ago, he and business partner Jeff Parr opened AnnaLena, a Kitsilano eatery named after their grandmas. Eight months later, he and his passionate team have been named one of Canada’s best new restaurants of the year by Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine.

Mikey is a quality-over-quantity kind of chef. You won’t find many five-course dinners on his newly honoured restaurant’s calendar. But, there are always exceptions. Wednesday night’s exclusive American Express dining event was just that, and I was lucky to experience it. For the first time ever, American Express opened its doors to all Canadians, allowing them to experience the access that American Express Invites and the Front of The Line program they offer to Cardmembers. This exclusive dining event is similar to events held at Pigeonhole in Calgary and Bar Raval in Toronto.

A handful of Vancouver’s most serious food enthusiasts and I had the restaurant to ourselves and five explosive courses to enjoy, all paired with sommelier Christina Hartigan’s international wine choices. A vegetarian menu was available, too, and it was as swoon-worthy as the meat options: think well-dressed kale salad with deep-fried cauliflower and crispy potato chips (pictured), the most beautiful risotto I’ve ever seen with sweet, roasted sunchokes and thyme oil and the dessert…oh, the dessert. Exaggerations aside, this was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had: Campfire S’mores with coffee ice cream, swiss meringue, chocolate custard and smoke essence. Served with a bowl over-top to trap in smoke, this dish engulfs all of your senses. If we all beg Chef Mike to add it to the permanent menu, it could happen? Wishful thinking. Needless to say, dinnertime conversation centred around the spectacular food, and it was so nice for us non-Cardmembers to experience a taste of membership through this program/promotion.

More about our host: for the past quarter decade, American Express has offered Cardmembers early access to the best entertainment experiences. In addition to the amazing dining experiences noted above, Canadians had a chance to attend an exclusive pre-screening of The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 and will have advanced access to some of the hottest concert pre-sales. You can read more about the benefits of being an Amex Cardmember here.

Thanks American Express Canada for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

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