Let us each share our thoughts on the menu. We may have the same dishes but we certainly have different views on them.
Joyce: Roasted Beet and Potato Veloute + Braised Lamb Cheeks + Stilton Cheesecake
Being the black sheep at the table, I was the only one ordering the veloute. The Roasted Beet and Potato Veloute came in a saucer, of which the server poured into a bowl with the dill crème fraiche and croutons – I really liked this extra touch and reminded me of the Dine Out I had at C Restaurant a couple of years ago.
The soup was very creamy, with hints of sweetness from the beet, but not too rich. The crunchiness of the croutons and the refreshing taste of dill made the soup more interesting and richer in flavour. Red Wine Braised Lamb Cheeks were tender and seasoned nicely; however the way it’s cooked took away the natural flavour of the lamb. They could almost pass as braised short ribs. At first glance, I thought four little pieces of lamb cheeks would not be enough, but combined with the risotto it was just the right portion for me. Knowing that it’s a signature dessert, I ordered the Diva’s Caramelized Stilton Cheesecake even though I’m never a huge fan of blue cheese (or cheese in general). Boy, I was glad that I got it because it’s very good. It’s not at all stinky like you’d imagine with any blue cheese dishes. It’s very rich in flavour but it went really well with the tart rhubarb compote. The crust was a bit too hard but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the dish. Small portion but very satisfying.
Mr.: Duck Liver Parfait + Slow Cooked Coho Salmon + Chocolate Pudding
I had the Duck Liver Parfait to start, which I’ve never had before. It was rich and smooth, and it went really well with the rhubarb sauce on the side. It’s very similar to Foie Gras, but less dense, with a creamier texture. The dish was great except for the Melba Toast (read: dry crackers). I get that it’s supposed to be light to pair with the rich liver pate, but there was no need for it to taste like dry wall.
For the first time in a long time, I ordered fish as a main when there was red meat available. The Slow Cooked Coho Salmon was nice, with crispy skin and flaky meat. I enjoyed how the fish was marinated/salted on its own, with a light and refreshing broth. I really didn’t taste much of jalapeño in the jalapeño polenta, or much of anything. I suppose that’s a good thing since you wouldn’t want to over power the flavours of the fish.
I chose the Valrhona Chocolate Pudding with, get this, banana ice cream for my dessert. It seemed like they used real bananas in the ice cream, because it came in a slightly brownish colour (think coffee ice cream), and it tasted like browned bananas. The “pudding” was very rich; though too bitter on its own, it worked great with the ice cream. Overall this dish could’ve been better.
Frank: Duck Liver Parfait + Braised Lamb Cheeks + Stilton Cheesecake
The dishes were good without being ostentatious. I had the Duck Liver Parfait to start and was glad to see that the ducks were from a local farm. As expected, the parfait was rich, and it paired nicely with the rhubarb (it’s coming in season) chutney. For the main, the lamb cheeks were very satisfying – amazingly tender and quite flavourful. It sat on a bed of braised leek risotto and topped by a small sprinkle of some delightful gremolata. Lastly, the dish that I came for, the Stilton Cheesecake was so intriguing with the use of blue cheese. Also with a slight sense of apprehension, we tried the cheesecake. Gladly, the predominant taste was not that blue cheese, but it does have more of a cheese flavour than any other cheesecakes that I had. That said, it’s a very good cheesecake and pairs nicely with the rhubarb compote. I also had a bite of the Chocolate Pudding – the other dessert choice. It’s rather rich with the use of dark chocolate – slightly too bitter. With the combination of the banana ice cream, it was rather delicious.
To Frank, “the service was proper. The waiter and hostess were definitely trained and experienced. The waiter only asked about our dinner when necessary. The dishes were efficiently and timely cleared from the table.” What Frank didn’t know was what happened before he and company arrived. When the server came around to check, I explained to him that Frank was running late. Guess what he said? “No problem. As long as you are happy, I am happy.” None of the impatience or irritation, but a sense of humour.
Because it’s a dinner for 6, 17% gratuity was automatically added to our bill. Our server had the courtesy of telling us when he gave us the bill, reminding me of the whole fuss during the Olympics when many restaurants charged the autograt without notifying their customers.
Quoting Frank, “the restaurant itself is nice – well and cleanly decorated. It is not going for the chic factor, but it does have a sense of class.” I believe this menu is offered until July 2010 (according to OpenTable) and I’d recommend you to visit this restaurant if you have a chance. And don’t forget to get the Stilton Cheesecake!
Diva at the Met
645 Howe Street, Vancouver