Last year, I attended the Zomato Meetup held at the Shaughnessy, located at the gorgeous VanDusen Botanical Garden. Centrally located in Vancouver, being in the 55-acre lot whips you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our dinner (complimentary, so thanks!) that night featured some classic dishes as well as some innovative dishes. For our starters, we had the Scallop, Bacon and Endive Salad.The scallops were definitely the highlight of this dish, but it would have been a one-note wonder without the citrus flavours from the orange, the crunch from the pecans and radish, as well as the sumptuous butter lettuce. And then top it with bacon? Well, then you're all set. Our second appetizer is the always popular Calamari.The tender squid was lightly golden fried with a light salt and pepper seasoning. Crispy on the outside, soft with a bit of a bite on the inside, just as it should be. I'm a purist when it comes to calamari, a squirt of lemon juice is usually all I need. However, the chili-lime aioli did peak my interest and I quite like the flavours, but I did find the texture a little too thick, personal preference, of course. Last appetizer I tried was the Coconut Curry Mussels. They were plump and well-seasoned, but could have used a bit fresher herbs. Although I did use the bread that we got at the start of the meal to soak up all those yummy juices. Now, onto the mains! We sampled four dishes, all differing in tastes, proteins and textures. It was a great way to sample all the chef's creations. First up was the Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto. Loaded with mushrooms and scented with truffle oil, this dish looked as good as it tasted. The risotto itself was nicely done, creamy and tender but each grain was separate, no clumpiness here! After that, we tasted the Cioppino, in a rich tomato and fennel broth. There were more of the juicy mussels and scallops, as well as tender chunks of fish, prawns, mussels and clams. I have always hesitated most fennel-related foods, because I always found it overpowering, however, this was nice and light, more fragrant than heavy on the palate. The Duck Confit was amazing. Crispy skin and plenty of meatiness underneath too. The parsnip puree was really mild and the warmed citrus salad gave the dish a nice shot of sweetness. But I think my favourite of was the Maple and Bourbon Glazed Steelhead, I love it when a filet is done right. The slightly sweet cauliflower was a good contrast, I really enjoyed this dish. I have always been amazed by things such as a Flourless Chocolate Cake, but this one was amazing. The little sprinkle of pecan praline gave the dessert a nice crunch and a basic vanilla ice cream was super comforting. I don't have a sweet tooth though, I actually have a sour tooth, so I was really happy with our second dessert, Lemon Shortbread Parfait. Lemon meringue pie is probably my favourite dessert of all time, and this is a close second. There was a tart lemon curd, with some lemon ice cream, and topped with a sprinkle of crunchy shortbread crumble...oh, and yes, there was meringue too, torched no less. Great textures and tart flavours. A perfect end to a meal!
Given the scenic location and the fantastic food, this is definitely a place for a great way to meet new friends and catch up with old ones.