I received an invitation to a sit-down media dinner at C Restaurant, to sample its Dine Out menu. I said yes without a blink. C Restaurant and I go way back. In fact, it all started with a DOV dinner back in 2004, when the menu was – hold your breath – only $25. That was before my photo-taking/food-blogging time, but I remember it was a very enjoyable dinner, especially for the value of it. Then, I went back for another DOV dinner in 2008, and the price already went up to $35, nonetheless a wonderful meal. In 2011, I visited C again for one of its tasting menus, courtesy of deal coupon discounts; it was a different experience because the dishes were smaller in portion and I could tell that the culinary direction had changed since my 2008 visit (sorry, was in hiatus mode so there wasn’t a post on this). This media invite has piqued my interest in trying the now more upscale C Restaurant, at an affordable $38 DOV price.
Keep in mind that this is a media event so it may not necessarily reflect the true quality of food, but this should serve as a good indication of what you should expect from this restaurant. And I won’t be commenting on its service quality because it’s hard for me to judge when we were considered the “VIPs”.
I must start by saying that C’s DOV 2012 menu includes four courses. Actually, it’s amuse bouche + 4 courses, so by the sound of it, it’s already a better deal than other $38 restaurants. The only down side is that there’s no option for each course. Well, there is, but at extra cost. On the positive side, the menu is more focused since chefs and cooks are making same dishes, so they should have better control on quality assurance and consistency.
Shall we begin? The Amuse Bouche were presented beautifully on skewers. On the menu it lists smoked cannelloni as the only item, but I was watching other diners and they seemed to have received a variety of skewers like we did. It probably depends on the number of people at each table.
Here is the list of items we got:
- Organic Ocean Spot Prawn
- Golden Beet & cheese
- Quail Egg
- Wild Pacific Smoked Salmon
- Albacore Tuna Tataki
Because there was not enough for everyone to try everything, I only tried three of the five items. They were simple, one-bite skewers that whet your appetite for the meal ahead.
The first course is Pickled Beet Panzanella Salad. Panzanella is a dressed salad of greens and stale bread. It’s basic, but in this case the beets and harissa dressing brought a lot of flavour to the dish. Beets were sweet, and a bit sour from the pickling, and the harissa dressing added a tiny kick and was probably the highlight of this dish for me.
Throughout the dinner we received bonus dishes, so we could have a better understanding of what the entire menu has to offer. At extra cost, $9 to be exact, you could substitute your salad with Sauteed Spot Prawns. In my opinion, I prefer the refreshing taste of the panzanella salad. I’m a huge fan of spot prawns but the overall texture of this dish didn’t work for me. It was missing something crunchy, and the kale and romesco sauce were too over-powering so I couldn’t really taste the spot prawns.
After the first course, you could have the option to pay $8 or $15 for a bisque or foie gras as “middle course”. We skipped right straight to our second course, Seared Albacore Tuna. I want to say this was probably my favourite dish of the evening. I don’t really like tuna, but I’m okay with tuna tataki. It was a nice sear on the outside while the flavour remained intact inside. Then there’s the minestrone, which is my favourite choice of soup for winter, and here it was treated as a sauce for the orso. I don’t eat orso often, but I liked its texture and it went really well with the minestrone. The pistou sauce was a bit salty but it balanced the slight tartness of the tomatoes.
Next is the main (third) course – Seared Lake Babine Salmon. Executive Chef Robert Clark paid a surprise visit to our table and explained the history of this salmon species. Apparently this species had not been available for more than 100 years and it was only recently that the Lake Babine Nation salmon fishery was re-created and made the species available to us again. A sustainable food source – a passion of Chef Clark.
Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from this dish, because I tend not to order cooked salmon at restaurants (trying to avoid overcooked, dry salmon filet). This turns out to be a very nicely cooked piece of fish. The salmon was still pink in the middle (medium rare), so it’s moist with a crunchy outside. I personally found this species of salmon just a bit more fishy but it’s not too bad. The squash puree was seasoned with cinnamon and it’s at the right consistency. The almond tapenade on top of the fish tasted stale to me and wasn’t a very pleasant taste.
For meat lovers, you could pay $12 to order the Roasted Beef Tenderloin instead of salmon. Luckily for us, we got to try both. It was cooked to medium, which was a bit over for me (I’m a medium rare-medium eater). Nonetheless, the meat was moist and juicy with a nice crust. The flavour of tarragon came through the butter and worked really well with the beef. The confit portabello mushroom was a surprise because even though it’s tucked underneath the slices of beef tenderloin, it was packed with flavours and outshone the beef.
When we thought we couldn’t stuff more food in our tummy, our final and dessert course was served. I always remember dessert was not a strong suit for C Restaurant so the Spiced Chocolate Pudding seemed to be a safe option for them. The spices were along the line of masala; to me, I felt the spices were too mild and I would prefer it to be more spiced. However, the pudding was creamy and smooth, and was a nice finish to our meal. I especially like the crispy puffed rice – I could eat it as a snack anytime!
Oh that was not it. Each table also got some Lemon Poppyseed Biscotti as their petit fours. It was not the hard, crunchy type of biscotti. It actually tasted more like shortbread/cookie than biscotti.
Our meal was also paired with wine. Being mindful of the amount of alcohol intake, I only sipped each glass to see how well each pairing was. We didn’t get the exact pairing as listed on the menu, but I can tell you that I enjoyed the Jackson Triggs White Meritage with the Panzanella Salad and the Petale d’Osoyoos with the Beef Tenderloin.
Wow this turns out to be a rather long post, but there was a lot of material (dishes) to cover. And as you can imagine, I was pretty stuffed afterwards. Among the six bloggers, there were a few first-time C diners, so I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to dine at C before, seeing it evolve and now re-visiting it again. The food quality has remained at a high standard, and I think at $38, the DOV menu is an excellent way to sample C Restaurant who prides itself for its seafood specialty, and especially since its regular menu is on a rather pricey side. It’s probably worth the dollars just for its gorgeous view! I have read some negative reviews specifically on its service level, too bad I can’t comment on that but would love to hear your thoughts if you have a chance to eat there.
2-1600 Howe Street, Vancouver