Markham Heritage Wines began its evolution in 1965 as Wine-Art, a company that supplied the materials for customers to ferment wine in their own homes. In 1987, it rolled out its first four-week wine kit, a compact collection of everything needed to produce wine within a single month. Eventually, technology changed and so did the business owners, so they sold Wine-Art and founded Markham Heritage Wines as an all-purpose supplier and educational venue for aspiring bottlers who just can’t bring themselves to forgo buying a rocket car in favour of buying a vineyard.
On Markham Heritage Wines’ premises, wine experts guide neophytes through the process of mixing wines from simple grape juices, flavouring them with oak chips and other additives, and bottling the newly created vintages. Each batch of wine needs to be looked after for four to six weeks, during which time the experts rack, stabilize, clear, and filter the liquid before singing it to sleep each night. Clients then return to bottle their wine using automated equipment, label the bottles, and apply decorative shrink tops.
Using authentic Italian and regional recipes, East Side Mario's chefs craft extensive menus at the Langley and North Vancouver locations filled with pastas, meat dishes, and kid-friendly fare. Pizza kneaders hand-press and cattle-brand Sicilian-style thin-crust pizzas ($8.99+ for a small) piled with toppings such as pepperoni, pineapple, and capicollo before loading them in stone ovens to brown and crisp. Oven-baked penne bolognese ($14.99+) emerges from the fire in a bath of alfredo sauce, and red- and green-striped ravioli stuffed with four cheeses ($16.99) greets mouths with festive flavours and a seasonal wardrobe. The eatery also carries kid-friendly options in its Mini Mario's Meals, such as a kid-size chicken parmigiana ($7.99) and chicken strips with seasoned fries ($6.99).
In keeping with its name, the décor at Day & Night Angus Steak and Raw Bar strikes a graceful balance of light and dark. In the dining room, dark wood walls inset with geometric wine racks revolve around the centerpiece: a 30-foot tall chandelier made up of more than 1,600 glass bubbles. Below lies a 26-foot raw bar with blue accent lights that illuminate Bering Sea king crab legs and imported Japanese sashimi. The star of the bar is perhaps the more than 20 varieties of oysters, which are as pearl-free as a debutante who had to trade her pearls for helicopter fuel during the recession.
In addition to the chilled eats, Day & Night’s menu tempts with creamy lobster bisque and french-onion soup, rack of lamb and moulard duck breast, and nordic seafood rice. The chef hand-picks only a few choice cuts of certified USDA Angus steaks to age for three to four weeks and kiss with flame on an in-house wood grill. These hearty representations of earth and sea pair with a range of drinks, including international wines, sake, house cocktails, and European coffees.
Street festivals are often held on the historic streets outside La Grotta on Main, mirroring the culinary festivities that take place daily inside the restaurant. In the kitchen, chefs deftly prepare house-made pastas and gourmet Mediterranean entrees suitable for both lunch and dinner. As meals unfold, waiters swing down from the dining room's white drapes to pour dozens of red and white wines, including a house sangiovese imported from Italy. La Grotta on Main's culinary wizards can also conjure up meals that accommodate special diets. A faux-stone finish wraps around the eatery's interior walls, where the flickering glow of a fireplace spills across decorative plants and white tablecloths. Outside, a pergola overhangs the outdoor patio as diners feast their hungry eyes on vibrant flora and gently poke nearby trees until they pass the salt.
Everything about Day & Night's dining room is chic: the circular room is alternately wrapped in sleek wood paneling and colorful light installations that glow softly upon tables dressed in crisp white linens. At the front door, the eye is drawn toward through the room to an installation of small spherical lights that rise in a column toward the ceiling, like bubbles ascending in a freshly poured flute of champagne. Beneath it, chefs experiment in an exhibition prep station, plucking whole lobsters and oysters from the ice-chilled raw bar encircling them.
Day & Night replenishes the raw bar with oysters three times a week with fresh shipments from France, New Zealand, Massachusetts, and the studio where they make reproductions of The Birth of Venus. The red and blue King crab legs are hand-selected by the master chef, as are certified Angus steaks that are aged 3-4 weeks before cooking in the restaurant's signature firewood grill. In addition to the high-end steak and seafood often served on prix-fixe menus, Day & Night also prepares sashimi, rice, and pasta dishes, such as fettuccine with white shrimp and scallops.