I have to admit, I don’t really frequent Gastown even though it has become a foodie scene. One of the restaurants, Cork & Fin, has been receiving good reviews since its opening last year. I was intrigued. After perusing its Dine Out Vancouver menu, I decided to take this opportunity to pay them a visit.
Being a seafood restaurant, I opted for an all-seafood combination. First, the Fresh Oysters was a order of three and it came in two varieties, Sawmill Bay and Read Island. They were fresh, although skinny. Sawmill Bay was a bit salty and Read Island was sweet. Therefore, we encored a dozen of the Read Island oysters (fresh oysters are only $1.50 each during happy hour, i.e. 5-6:30pm).
Next, the Prawn Bisque. I have to say, prawns are definitely not as flavourful as lobsters. Or that this was a water-down version. The bisque was really light in flavour and it’s lacking the intensity one could taste from a lobster bisque. But it was quite creamy. I also tried a bite of the Negitoro. That’s the better of the two second course. It’s similar to what you get at a Japanese restaurant, but without the overpowering green onion flavour and with the addition of a spicy kick in the sauce. I quite enjoyed it with the toasted baguette.
As for entree, I had mixed feelings towards my Pan Seared Ling Cod. I wanted to say I liked it but somehow something just didn’t sit right with me. The fish was good, but I would’ve liked it done crispier. I liked the tomato ragu mostly because the tangy sauce complemented the under-seasoned fish. I order cod quite often at restaurants, and this is probably one of my least favourite ones. On the other hand, the Grilled Sirloin surprised me. Because this is a seafood restaurant, I wasn’t expecting much of the beef dish. It came out medium rare, just as what we ordered, and the meat was tender and tasty. We paid an extra $13 for the lobster but it’s definitely outshone by the steak.
Out of the norm, the 3-course menu doesn’t have a dessert course. You can order from its regular dessert menu with a choice of Pot de Creme, Chocolate Mousse, Apple & Almond Tart and Cheese Plate. I do believe you’ll need a fourth course for this dinner because the portion size was more on the small side. By the end of the 3rd course, it kind of felt like an unfinished tasting menu. Or I was just looking for something sweet to wrap it all up (hehe)!
In the beginning of our dinner, the service quality was only so-so. I’m blaming mostly on the fact that we were seated in the “VIP area”, i.e. upstairs. We were the only table in the area and I felt neglected in the corner. The service slowly picked up as we were served with our dishes and the area was filled with more customers. They sure try to make great use of their space because the tables were arranged rather close to each other. Some customers were basically sitting back to back against each other.
Some food bloggers may not agree but I believe in the concept of Dine Out Vancouver. This is a promotional opportunity for restaurants to pick up some customers during their down time, and through that, hopefully retain some new, frequent customers. To fully take advantage of this, restaurants need to embrace the idea and run their business as usual during these two weeks. Not by doing a half-ass job. This dinner was a hit and miss for me, and that makes me wonder why the restaurant was receiving such raving reviews. I’m thinking the quality was compromised because the restaurant got too busy (there was a couple of big dinner parties on the main floor). I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt, and I may go back again to try its regular menu.
Cork & Fin
221 Carrall Street, Vancouver