Joyce and I attended the media launch event at Prestons for its fall menu — my first food blogger-type event. Socializing and Lisa equals: out of comfort zone plus awkward, which also equals to complete social misfit. Nevertheless, still had a good time, met some really cool people, some really flamboyant people, and a couple of drinks.
Menu at the event included a selection of its fall menu items, served appetizer style. Preston states on their menus that they are a West Coast style restaurant with Mediterranean and Asian influence. I’m definitely not an expert in Mediterranean food, but the Asian influence on the dishes was present on many items served that night.
Our first item was the Thai Red Curry. I loved the colour of the dish and the flavour of the curry was pretty spot on, until the heat kicks in at the end. The vegetables were overcooked as well as the rice. The presentation in the tiny glass cup was adorable, until I realized I had to eat it with a giant Chinese porcelain spoon.
My favourite for the night was the Gyoza, described in their menu as seared shrimp and vegetable dumplings with miso vinaigrette. This was definitely not your traditional gyoza, but the presentation couldn’t be better. Each gyoza was served in a bamboo steamer on a leaf, with the vinaigrette drizzled over. (Note: This is a tasting event so items were served/plated in cute, miniature fashion. Chances are you won’t get the same presentation when you dine off the regular menu.) The gyoza itself gave a nice, light finish, but the “vinaigrette” was very heavy and creamy, almost like the consistency of mayonnaise. I’m a sucker for creamy food, so I felt like the pairing was in harmony, light finish from gyoza with the drizzle of heavy cream sauce.
Their Asian-influenced Baby Back Ribs had a decent texture. The meat was tender, fall off the bone, and didn’t leave that nasty fatty feeling in your mouth like some ribs do. The hoisin sauce on it was oddly sweet, but the ginger component was definitely lacking. Would love to come back to try it again, as I think the idea of having an Asian style rib sounds really interesting.
This next food was probably one of my least favourites, the Eggplant and Parmesan Slider. Honestly, why would anyone ever put parmesan, pesto, and feta into one item? It was way too salty to finish, even for a slider. The bun wasn’t even toasted, so that the sauce was soaking into the bread, making it soggy – heck, the bun wasn’t even warm. (Joyce: I realized our slider had an excessive amount of sauce which didn’t help the case!)
Dungeness Crab Cakes were served with a tomato vinaigrette and a smashed, fried caper on top. The crab cakes had a good layer of batter, but looked like they sat in a fryer for a long time. Their tomato vinaigrette was oddly creamy-looking for a vinaigrette (same texture as the miso vinaigrette). There was only a dot of sauce on top, almost like it was only there to hold the caper in place, which in turn left the crab cake unbelievably dry.
Their Braised BBQ Pork Slider had a homemade bbq sauce with their pork (pulled) with the classic coleslaw — your typical pulled pork sandwich almost. The pork was a bit salty, but the slider was amazingly juicy (totally had a trail of burger juice on my face) and the coleslaw added a great texture to the overall taste. Would be nice to have the bun warmed up or even slightly toasted, so that the juices don’t make the buns all soggy.
I never would have thought they would put a Poutine on their menu, but they did. It tasted like they used the same pork from the sliders, which made it a bit salty, but loved it anyways. The only problem was that because the pork was incorporated into the gravy, it didn’t stick to the fries. I would gladly overlook that issue with the large chunks of cheese curds in the poutine.
Another Asian item on their menu was the Chicken Karaage. I’m not sure about the flash fried part…it looked like it was deep fried twice. The presentation in the little take out boxes was beyond adorable though. Other than that, it tasted good; the chicken wasn’t too dry and I like the idea of their garlic sake marinade, though I think the meat would definitely benefit from sitting in the marinade a little longer. The slaw it was served with didn’t add much to the dish other than texture and a bitter taste from the use of cabbage and raw onions.
The only dessert item on the menu was the Creme Brulee, which was a combination of matcha and white chocolate. I may be biased with this, as creme brulee is probably my favourite dessert — well that, and panna cotta. This was by far the best combination of flavours tasted that night, never thought it would pair this well. The dessert was incredibly rich, but the creaminess could be even smoother I think, so my favourite creme brulee still remains at the Well on Main Street, hahah. But I would for sure order this again if I came for dinner.
As for the two drinks on their menu, one was a French Martini and the other was a Venetian Spritzer. The martini was very boring in taste, almost like watered down alcohol, whereas the spritzer was light, bubbly, and very girly – could see myself ordering a round of these for a bunch of girlfriends.
That was all the items tried for the event. The rest of the event went pretty well, the management team were very easy going and professional all throughout. The Facebox photo booth was a hit, got people laughing and bonding. It was definitely a fun event.
Joyce: Let me throw my two cents here. People may think a media event tends to be perfect because they’re looking for good reviews to boost publicity. In my opinion, I want to think that it wasn’t their best service at Prestons. As you can tell from Lisa’s review above, there are some negatives about most of the dishes. And I generally agree with her. The concept was there, it’s just the execution wasn’t at its best. Heck we were facing a big pile of dirty dishes on our table just 20 minutes into the event and no one was available to clean them out. Could be under-staffed, or too busy trying to bring out the food. Prestons’ unique location in the Coal Harbour, versus the bustling downtown, has its challenges and benefits. It’d be a good location for people who work or live nearby to have a drink or grab a bite. But because it’s a bit removed from the centre of everything, people may not travel an extra block to pay Prestons a visit. I’ve heard some good things about the restaurant, so I want to give it the benefit of the doubt and I may go back for dinner sometime in the future.
Prestons (at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel)
1177 West Pender Street, Vancouver