For this year's Dine Out Vancouver, we purposely chose restaurants that were new to us. The first was Fishworks in North Vancouver, the second was Saucisse, also in North Vancouver. Our next one will be this Friday at Oakwood Bistro and our final venture will be Yaletown L'Antipasto. Four outings in two weeks might seem like a lot, but it's a huge reduction from what I have done in previous years, including lunches and dinners!
Of the five of us, only two actually ended up doing the Dine Out menu.
sThis is the Crab Soup that comes as one of the appetizer choices. The description was Dungeness crab in Coconut Soup with Enoki Mushrooms, but as you can see, the crab isn't really in the soup. Nevertheless, the soup wasn't overly sweet as you'd expect with the presence of coconut, and the mushrooms gave it a nice texture. The portion seemed bit small, especially compared to my non-Dine-Out appetizer.
I tried the Lobster Bisque from their regular menu, and my bowl was enormous...it was rich and creamy and never-ending. I really enjoyed this and didn't even mind sharing, since there was so much in the bowl!
The second Dine-Out appetizer we tried was the Vietnamese Style Salad Roll, with Qualicum Beach Scallops and Prawn. The serving was, again, a little smaller than expected. The flavours were good though and the presentation of the dressing in the mason jar made it impossible to "dip" the salad roll as usual, instead the sauce had to be poured on top. This is not part of their regular menu and could be the reason for the smaller size and odd presentation.
And the second non-Dine-Out appetizer we got was their Dungeness Crab Cakes. This was a healthy portion and there wasn't a lot of filler either. We did find a little piece of shell in one though. It wasn't as good as the one we had at Whet, but then again, it is quite a bit cheaper too.
One of the Dine-Out entrees was the Crispy Duck Breast, served simply with a few carrots. What was on the plate was quite good, although the duck skin could have been crispier. The layer of fat in between wasn't excessive and the duck meat had a rich gamey flavour and texture. I expected a bit of carbs here though, maybe a bit of mashed potatoes made with the duck fat. That would have taken this dish higher.
For our other Dine-Out entrees, we tried the Nova Scotia lobster. This was a good sized portion of lobster and it was cooked perfectly. The meat had a good bounce and was quite sweet. The chowder-like sauce had strong hits of smoked bacon. It doesn't look like this is on their regular menu either, but that is quite surprising for a seafood restaurant, so I'd doublecheck.
Our first (of three) non-Dine-Out entree was the Linguine Carbonara with Prawns. The blend of cream, cheese and egg was rich and creamy, but there was a touch too much of it for me. The pasta was al dente, and the cubed pancetta added a nice saltiness. Clearly though, the star of the show are the grilled prawns. I wished they got a little bit more colour on the, but they were still quite good. Large and bouncy, it complemented the pasta nicely.
I have only had Salmon Wellington at Pink Peppercorn, with the chef of the Cannery at the helm. When we saw it on their regular menu, we had to give it a try. The phyllo crust is supposed to have cranberry and almond flavours, but they were missing for me, or too subtle to detect. The phyllo was a bit doughy but the salmon was prepared correctly, and flaked nicely on the fork. The pistachio pesto was quite tasty too. And as you can see, our entrees had a bit more garnish than the Dine-Out dishes.
I know, I know...who goes to a seafood restaurant and orders Beef Tenderloin? Well, yours truly did, and I have to say, I didn't regret it at all. Oh, and FYI, the other non-seafood choice is a chicken breast. The slab of Canadian AAA Beef came on a bed of heady truffle emulsion with a pat of Blue Cheese butter on top. Cooked to a medium rare on the inside but seared on the outside, the butter melted quickly into the steak. The sides were the same as the salmon but with the addition of some pommes frites, which were delicious when dipped into the melted butter too.
Only a few of us were dessert fans so the two that came with the Dine-Out was just right. The first is their Cheesecake, with some caramel apple on top. This was surprisingly light and not as dense as I was expecting. I normally dislike cheesecake but the flavour of this was so mild, I didn't mind it at all.
The second, less common dessert on the Dine-Out menu was the Poached Pear, with a Toasted Hazelnut Vanilla Ice Cream. The pear was actually quite tender and the ice cream paired (no pun intended) well with this. I also liked the crunch from the hazelnut chunks.
One thing I have to say about both desserts...why did they use such large plates? If anything, it made the desserts look even skimpier than they actually were.
Dine Out ends on Sunday, February 3, 2013. Details for booking are below.