Having learned that Parkside will be closing by end of the month, I wanted to pay it a visit. I actually missed the opportunity to try it out during Dine Out, so this was my first, and last, time dining at Parkside. It was actually one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in the past few years as a foodie. I hope when the economy picks up again, they will bring Parkside back. Or I will truly miss the place. On the other hand, I’m anxious to try La Buca 2 at the same location when it opens in March.
The food quality was awesome. I was specially intrigued by the red deer medallion and roast rabbit on the menu – they were two must-try items on my mission. Before getting into the actual dinner, I must point out the quality of the bread. It’s soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and best of all, it’s piping hot and it’s home made! Oh my, the Foie gras parfait was very smooth and creamy. The brioche toasts were fluffy and they matched very well with the tasty foie gras. It was better than the one I had at the William Tell. The Roast saddle of rabbit was some interesting meat. I couldn’t describe what the texture is like. It’s lean and tender – probably closest to chicken meat. I like the skin; it’s crisp and a bit chewy. The pasta was freshly home-made and it was good. Gee, the Veal chop was a really decent portion. The meat was cooked perfectly and worked very well with the sauce. The deep-fried artichoke heart was cripsy and sweet. Once again, the gnocchi was home made and it’s soft and moist. On the other hand, the Grilled medallions of red deer was probably the worst of the three entrees. To start, the meat texture was no different than beef, except that it’s leaner and a bit more bland. I must clarify, this was my first time having venison so I didn’t know what to expect. I actually like the sauce, it’s rich and savoury and it went well with the meat. I just wish the meat had more flavour on its own that I could actually enjoy it without the sauce. Don’t get me wrong. It might be the worst of the three, but it’s still of above average quality! To wrap up the dinner, we ordered two desserts. The Lemon tart brulée was tart (pun intended)! The brulée hard caramel top was a contrast to the soft lemony filling of the tart. The berry sauce helped balance the tartness of the dessert. Mmm..the Black forest chocolate gateau was decadent! This is one dessert that can only be truly enjoyed if it’s served with a cup of bold coffee (which was missing at dinner). The cake was moist, very rich and chocolaty. The berry-flavoured whipped cream on the side was a good complement to the cake.
I have to say, I’m a little disappointed by the drink menu. The wine list was alright but I’m more of a cocktail person and the selection was definitely limited. The server recommended the Italian Job and Blood Orange Negroni, and we ordered both. I probably would order Italian Job again, but Blood Orange Negroni, I don’t think so. They were not bad but just not my kind of cocktail.
By observation, I realized that you don’t get an amuse bouche if not everyone at the table orders a 3-course dinner. The three of us ordered one appetizer and two desserts to go along with our entrees, and we didn’t get the amuse bouche. Whereas our neighbours ordered 3 courses each, and they were offered it. That surprises me – so if you are not having 3 courses, your palate doesn’t need to amused to savour the dishes?! Does that mean my dishes would’ve tasted even better if I were offered an amuse bouche?
All in all, the service was excellent. The server was attentive from making recommendations from the drink list to not rushing the service. He gave us plenty of time between courses to refresh our palate before serving the next course. And where in the world would a customer not appreciate an extra “thanks” from the server?!
This whole dining experience was bought up to another level by my Twitter encounter with someone from the restaurant (presumably the owners). I had posted on Twitter that I’d be visiting Parkside this very day, then @LaBuca asked for my reservation detail. They surprised us by coming to our table before desserts and poured each of us a decent amount of local Late Harvest dessert wine. It was fruity and it was of nice quality.
Parkside offered an elegant and intimate atmosphere. The dark oak bar and the display cabinet in the centre of the restaurant definitely added class to the location. I was surprised that its clientele was mostly married couples of age 40+. I expected to see more young adults (25-35), but I only saw a handful of them. This place was definitely suitable for special occasions and small intimate group dinners (up to 6 people). I hope they will maintain certain components of the restaurant after refurbishing to transform into La Buca 2.
This was probably one of the top ones, if not the best dining experience I’ve had in recent times.
Parkside Restaurant (Now L’Altro Buca)
Price Range: $30-$50
1906 Haro Street, Vancouver