During the month of January, Yew Restaurant + Bar ran its 3-course No Passport Required Menu for $35 per person, featuring ingredients/food culture from the 3 Canadian Olympic cities: Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. I was intrigued by the offering, so Mr. and I went there on a weekday evening.
Turns out there was a catch in the menu, that some dishes cost extra. On the other hand, there’s an option of ordering just 2 courses for $29. After putting on the amateur accountant hat, we decided to go ahead with those costly dishes despite paying extra for them, but only opt for one 3-course menu.
Our appetizers included Calgary and Vancouver. Calgary was the Bison Cannelloni. While the meat was flavourful, I wished there’s a more meaty sauce to go with the cannelloni. The carrot foam, which reminded me of the bacon foam I had at C Restaurant years ago, was too light and felt flat soon after a contact with the fork/knife. It didn’t do the job of enhancing the flavour of the pasta. Vancouver was Qualicum Bay Scallop Crudo and it added $5 to the bill. I enjoyed the combination of soft scallops and crunchy pickled radish and celery; a good contrast of texture. I also tried the scallop alone, but I have to say that it didn’t taste very fresh and I preferred having it with the vinaigrette.
As for entrees, we got Montreal and Calgary. Montreal was Duck Tourtiere, which according to our server, is a deconstructed version of a traditional French-Canadian dish – perfect representation of the Quebec province. The duck was crispy on the skin, and meat was tender on the inside; puff pastry was light and fluffy, not oily at all; and the mushrooms had that earthy flavour and the use of duck fat was an awesome move and just made the dish this much better. The only downside was the cauliflower puree; it seemed and tasted out of place. Calgary, of course, was Ribeye Steak. And this slice of Alberta beef cost us an extra $10. Usually when you order a piece of steak, it is served with a piece of butter on top. Well, this one comes with not one, but THREE pieces of actual fat from the meat. I tried a piece and the meat was tender and cooked to “perfection” – medium, that is. Mr. said it’s the best steak he’s had to-date.
To satisfy our sweet tooth, we shared a dessert and it was a treat. No option, though, everyone got the Olympic Indulgence. It has an interesting presentation, with the little chocolate box containing some gateau leger topped with a thick layer of caramel sauce. A bit too sweet, in my opinion, because I had to take a sip of water every so often. I also had to rinse my palate before I could try the caramel ice cream, which had a subtle flavour of caramel and paired nicely with the cinnamon-seasoned poached pear.
Our server was entertaining, as he tried to make fun of our two DSLRs the moment we sat down. He was also patient when he was explaining to us the background of tourtiere and went as far as telling us about a restaurant in town that sells it. It’s rare for servers to promote restaurants other than their own so I really appreciated it.
In addition to praising the brilliance of the No Passport Required menu, I also wanted to give them props for their Olympic cocktails. The three cocktails were not only named Gold, Silver and Bronze, they were also named after the three Canadian Olympic cities. But the restaurant took it to the next level by pricing them according to the year the cities hosted the Olympics: Montreal, $19.76; Calgary, $19.88; and Vancouver, $20.10. Now they just made a few extra bucks with the gimmicks – isn’t that smart?! On the other hand, they incorporated some interesting ingredients to the mix. It didn’t entice me, though, so we just ordered ones on the regular menu, El Presidente and Pearfect Times – two refreshing, fruity cocktails.
Hotel restaurants typically give me the impression of classy, fine-dining scene that you need to keep your voice down in order to dine-in. Yew actually has a bar and it definitely caters to a younger crowd, positioning as a more hip restaurant that attracts a broader range of customers. In fact, the bar area was filled with customers on a usually quiet Tuesday evening.
Yew Restaurant + Bar @ Four Seasons Hotel
791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver