Restaurant: McLean’s Restaurant, Bar & Custom Deli
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast
Last visited: July 12, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown/Gastown)
Address: 200-332 Water Street
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Kirk McLean’s 1st Restaurant
- Chef Eddie Szasz
- Formerly So.cial at Le Magasin
- Same chef as So.cial at Le Magasin, but new menu
- Oyster bar
- Casual fine dining
- Extensive wine/cocktail list
- Alberta beef
- Fresh ingredients
- 3 rooms: dining room, lounge, bar
- Restaurant & Lounge 11:30am-10pm
- Bar 5pm-midnight
- Custom Deli – 10am-8pm
- Dessert post tomorrow!
**Recommendations: Albacore Tuna Tartar, “Queen Charlotte” Halibut, Free Range Chicken Breast, AAA 10 oz Rib Eye
McLean’s Restaurant, Bar & Custom Deli is opened by our very own Vancouver Canuck Kirk McLean. The restaurant used to be So.cial at Le Magasin and although the furniture and menu has changed, they both still feel quite similar. McLean’s is casual fine dining located in gastown and it serves brunch, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.
I attended McLean’s for a media dinner organized by Cassandra from The Good Life Vancouver, therefore my dinner was complimentary. As always there are no expectations for the outcome of my post and I will be as honest as possible. That being said, I cannot comment on the service that we received either.
McLean’s Restaurant is split up into 3 rooms. The downstairs is the basement and also “Kirk’s Bar”. It’s quite cozy and casual, yet intimate. It’s quite a fancy bar where people would come to after work, but not really for a UFC game. I probably wouldn’t come for any big sports game considering there’s only one flat screen. Although it aims for a relaxed and casual atmosphere, I would call it a lounge before I would a bar.
The upstairs of McLean’s Restaurant is the dining room. It actually has an open kitchen which I think is quite nice. It’s makes for a more casual atmosphere, yet it’s still elegant and classy. It’s quite a simple set up, however it’s actually more elegant than the photo I took shows.I’m actually not sure which portion of the restaurant was the dedicated “lounge”. I may have missed it, however it seats 30 just like the bar does. The dining room seats 50 so it’s perfect for private parties as well.
Looking at the menu I immediately assumed West Coast fare with some Italian influence… and a love for mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. I actually guessed that McLean’s was using the same chef from So.cial at Le Magasin because I remember seeing lots of mushrooms on that menu as well. I was a bit confused with the direction McLean’s is going in because the menu is quite extensive and culturally inspired by everything. Everything sounded great on the menu, but it fell a tad short upon arrival.
Overall I found the food good, but not amazing. It just opened around July 1 so they’re still experimenting with their menu and flavours. Things will change. Given that’s it’s only been 2 weeks I felt as though the kitchen was still getting familiar with the recipes. I found some dishes significantly better than others and that given more time to prepare, the food was also better. The dishes were a bit inconsistent with some being heavily seasoned and others being quite bland. The meat dishes had lots more flavour than the seafood dishes. I would perhaps come back in a couple months after everything has settled down and they’re more confident in what they’re serving.
On the table:
- Shiitake, crimini & oyster mushroom soup finished with foie gras Chantilly $9
- This is a popular item that’s offered for lunch and dinner.
- It’s a clear mushroom broth so it was a nice change from the usual cream of mushroom soup. It was quite light and quite good, but it also came across as hotel banquet mushroom soup. There’s a strong flavour of fresh parsley, and of course mushrooms.
- I did like the frothy foam texture it had and the foie gras Chantilly gave it an added richness. Chantilly is whipped cream, and in this case it was infused with foie gras. To be honest it melted really quickly into the soup and I couldn’t taste much of the foie gras.
- There’s quite a bit of juicy and plump mushrooms and as much as I love mushrooms, I didn’t love the soup although I wanted to.
- Oven roasted cherry tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic reduction & Spanish extra virgin olive oil garnished with fresh basil $10
- Fior di latte is a fresh mozzarella cheese. It’s a semi-soft cheese that is mild in cheese taste and almost spongy and wet in texture.
- This was a very simply salad and reminded me of Italy. The ingredients are really fresh, which is what really makes this dish good.
- The only thing is that I could only taste the peppery arugula and I think they forgot the basil. If it was there, the basil got overpowered.
Duck Confit – 3/6
- Belgian endive salad, frisse, goat cheese & cherry tomatoes tossed with a sherry vinaigrette $12
- This is a pretty big, rich and hearty salad and I think it’s worth it. it was loaded with tons of ingredients and was almost a main salad rather than appetizer salad.
- Everything went well together except I thought the duck was inconsistent. Some parts were very dry and some parts were very fatty and chewy.
- Citrus soy, daikon & grapes garnished with cilantro $11
- They said this is how it’s normally served (10 pieces) however another one came out later and only had 8 pieces. This one also had no daikon. This is what I mean by still getting familiar with the menu.
- The steak was actually really good and tender. It was sliced very nicely and I loved the presentation.
- The citrus soy literally tasted like soy sauce with some lemon juice. I was expecting a more complex flavour because I find when I order this at Japanese restaurants it’s so much more than just “citrus soy”.
- The best part for me was the added grapes. I thought that was creative and it was excellent with the steak and soy sauce. It was a juicy burst of sweetness and it matched the natural sweetness that soy sauce has. It was tangy, savoury, sweet and well flavoured and executed. I did miss the daikon though. It would help lighten it all up and cut through the flavours a bit since everything was so intense.
- Chorizo – lime and Sancho pepper aioli $12
- This was a very “masculine” squid. By that I mean the flavours were very strong and rich and it made for quite a hearty appetizer. It was almost like a Spanish appetizer with a Southwestern twist.
- The squid was very charred but still very tender and slightly tangy from the lime juice. The texture of the squid was almost like spongy cheese, it was firm but not chewy at all and it was almost like fish cake.
- Overall the flavour was very charred and smoky tasting. The chorizo added to the peppery flavour and was almost like smokey bacon bits that were very crispy. It was slightly spicy and I found the smokiness a bit overpowering and a tad bitter since the flavour was in every ingredient used. I just wanted to break it all up a bit, besides the peppery arugula, so I think it could have used more lime juice.
- Avocado, ponzu, cilantro & sesame seeds served with nori chips $10
- I actually really enjoyed this. I thought the nori chips were such a unique idea. Chef actually takes full sheets of nori, cuts them into squares and deep fries them. I’ve never seen this done before and i think Japanese Izakaya restaurants will totally jump on this concept. They were nicely salted and so light and crispy, yet strong enough to hold the tartar.
- The tartar was really creamy and very good. I could have used more ponzu because the citrus would have broken up the creaminess a bit. It was slightly tangy but it was just missing a notch of flavour whether it needed to be more tangy or just more salty.
- It was very simple, but still creative to the Vancouver dining scene.
- Steamed with white wine, pancetta, confit garlic, shallots & cherry tomatoes garnish with fresh herbs $15
- Everywhere does Mussels and Frites – so I guess it’s obvious to see them here. The presentation was fabulous, but the flavour was not.
- The mussels themselves were fine, but the broth was extremely salty. There must have been a mistake – it wasn’t because there was added pancetta either, it was purely too much salt. There was supposed to be some fennel used in the broth, but I could only taste the sharpness of salt.
- White wine cream sauce with sundried tomatoes & Italian parsley finished pecorino pepato $21
- I thought this was very mediocre. They offer 2 vegetarian pastas and this is one of them.
- The portion is generous for ravioli, but the sauce is so rich that you’ll be full off the flavour.
- The ravioli is stuffed with spinach and ricotta, but it wasn’t anything I haven’t had before. It’s very creamy, buttery and cheesy sauce and I liked the tart sundried tomatoes to break up the richness. The idea just seemed a bit dated and I think they could do better for a vegetarian ravioli.
- Duck Confit, sauteed wild mushrooms, sundried tomatoes & thyme garnished with grana padano $22
- This is not how it’s served. (I interrupted half way because I had to try it!)
- I can’t rate this because I didn’t have it fresh. I had it maybe after 10 minutes and with risotto that can make a big difference.
- It was a general consensus that it was too mushy though and it was almost clumpy. It wasn’t creamy and you almost had to cut into it.
- I couldn’t taste the sun-dried tomatoes, but I could definitely taste the cheese and I did love the abundance of mushrooms, that was great.
- Pan seared fillet of halibut served with pommes puree, green asparagus & sauteed wild mushrooms finished with a lemon beurre blanc $28
- I enjoyed this dish a lot! I think the price is fair for what it is.
- The halibut is quite large and it has a nice and crispy edge. It was cooked perfectly, tender and moist but I just needed more salt and pepper on it.
- The pommes puree is amazing! It’s almost like creamy polenta. It’s the creamiest most delicious” mashed potatoes” ever. It’s almost like a sauce on it’s own so it helped to flavour the halibut. I used it like a dip. I don’t know how much butter he uses to get it to that consistency, but it was delicious!
- The cream sauce was tangy and buttery and with the added mushrooms the flavours were just perfect. It mixed into the pommes puree so well and everything combined was quite heavenly. I was scraping the plate on this one.
- Pan seared fillet of salmon served with lobster ravioli finished with a sage & truffle cream sauce $26
- I only tried a couple bites of this one so I can’t rate it.
- The salmon had a very crispy outside and it was actually moist on the inside.
- It had no flavour and the sauce was very bland. The sauce tasted like oil, cream and unsalted butter. It was quite watery and I’m almost sure they forgot the truffle oil in the cream sauce.
- I didn’t try the lobster ravioli.
- Maple glazed smoked pork belly lentils & sauteed wild mushrooms garnished with over roasted cherry tomatoes $26
- This is well worth it! The pork chop is HUGE! Enough for 2… but I am only 1 :)… but I DID share a bit.
- This is a hard seller, but it was better than a lot of the other dishes. This was pretty much gourmet pork chop and maple ‘beans’.
- The pork chop was bone in, perfectly pink and so tender and juicy with a lovely salt, pepper and thyme crust. It was so well flavoured and it came with a nicely reduced pan jus over top. Truly an excellent pork chop, good quality and nicely executed.
- You have to like lentils to appreciate them here. It tastes just like maple and bacon beans, but instead with lentils. They were sweet from the maple and savoury from the juicy bits of melt in your mouth pork belly, although I prefer them crispy. It’s a bit odd though, for some reason as they cooled down they lots their flavour incredibly quickly and then they weren’t so great. Must eat hot! So eat quick.
- Roasted breast of chicken served with pommes puree & seasonal vegetable $21
- Chicken. How boring… right?! WRONG! This chicken is delicious and it was one of the better mains for sure. I would come back and order this actually.
- I must say that this chicken was all too familiar though and it brought back memories from the organic chicken I had from So.cial at Le Magasin. It’s no wonder too, because it’s the same chef. He truly has a magic when it comes to chicken.
- The sauce is just so thick and syrupy and nice and reduced. It’s sweet sticky and it worked with the creamy pommes puree so well. The pommes puree or “mashed potatoes” (just like in the halibut main they serve) absorbed the syrupy glaze so well. These potatoes are delicious and ultra buttery smooth and creamy. It’s almost like creamed polenta, but way better.
- The chicken could have had a crispier skin, but it had a nice seasoning and was very tender and juicy inside.
- Pommes frites, balsamic glazed green asparagus finished with a truffle demi glace $29
- ANOTHER SCORE for McLean. As you can tell, dinner got significantly better as the orders slowed down and people left… yet I kept going! Thank goodness I did too, because this was delicious.
- I know. A rib eye is a rib eye… but this is a bull’s eye! I don’t know what that means… but it’s damn good. It’s good old Alberta beef.
- I requested medium rare, but it came out a little more cooked. Surprisingly it didn’t affect the tenderness that much, it was still excellent.
- It had a thick and sweet very reduced demi glace. Exactly what a demi glace should be like. It was rich and flavourful and I could taste the truffle oil.
- The fries were handcut and crispy, but I wasn’t crazy about them. Very mediocre fries.
- Caramelized onion potato gratin & seasonal vegetables finished with a demi glace $32
- I didn’t get to try this one at all, but I heard from the person who ordered it that it was also overcooked a bit, but still very good.
- The beef is from Alberta and I think the prawns from South America.