Restaurant: Old Surrey Restaurant
Cuisine: Continental/French/West Coast
Last visited: June 10, 2010
Location: Surrey, BC (Newton/Surrey)
Address: 13483 72 Ave
Price Range: $30-50
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Since 1975
- Family owned/operated
- Offers Continental cuisine
- Cozy/intimate/romantic atmosphere
- Fine dining in Surrey
- Focus on local, organic
- Lamb from family farm
- Produce from family farms
- Seafood from Steveston
- Seasonal specials
- Themed nights eg: Murder Mystery night
- 6 course $45 tasting menu available
- Good portions for price
- Dinner service only (from 5pm)
- Closed Mondays
**Recommendations: Filet Tenderloin, Rack of lamb (I didn’t try the lamb, but it’s popular, organic, and from the family farm)
Old Surrey Restaurant has been around since 1975 and is located in a house built in 1918. Originally they offered French cuisine, but looking at the menu it seemed more West Coast to me. Valentine Aguirre is the original owner and in 2007 his son Philip Aguirre took over. It has a very family owned atmosphere and you can tell that they’ve kept their loyal clientele, however I’m not sure if they’ve managed to find new ones. Basically, I was much more impressed with the service and ambiance than I was with the food. It’s was clean, contemporary and almost like a movie because of the way the rooms were themed and split up. The father and mother, original owners, are still the servers here and they really attend to each person.
I was actually very impressed walking in the restaurant. It’s a large restaurant that you can book out for private parties or banquets and it reminds me of Lupo Restaurant + Vinoteca or Mis Trucos where the restaurant is actually based inside a home. I felt like I was dining at a friend’s house, if that friend was Mr. Belvedere… or I felt I was a player in Clue (the board game) – but 3 times the size. What’s funny is that they actually have Murder Mystery themed nights with a themed menu, and I don’t know any restaurants that still do that. I don’t even think I was alive when they DID do it though. It’s such an old and classic idea that you hear about in movies, so it’s oddly refreshing to still see it being done.
This was the dining room themed room. Across was the library room, where I felt like taking a book off the shelf would open to some secret basement where I would meet Jekyll and Hyde. The floral fabric on the chairs and long stem candles gave it a cozy and vintage feeling. To be honest, the dated decor totally works with what they’re trying to do and it was all very cute.
It’s not bad… for Surrey… and it’s not great either. There’s not many “fine dining” restaurants in Surrey, so for those that don’t leave Surrey I guess it would be considered quite good. They have certain dishes (that have probably been on the menu since 1975) that they do well, and certain things they shouldn’t be doing at all. As one of my readers suggested it’s not quite good enough for fine dining, yet it’s a step up from hotel food.
I can see effort in some dishes and they do put a major focus on local and organic foods, which I commend (the lamb is organic and from their family farm). The portions are bigger for fine dining standards, so there is more food for the price, but nothing is really that ‘gourmet’. Overall I would much rather prefer something in White Rock, like Giraffe Restaurant if I’m going to fine dine in Surrey. It’s really fine dining… in Surrey… but not really able defend anything when I write that.
On the table:
- Complimentary one bite appetizer – rice crackers with cream cheese, smoked salmon, asparagus, and chives.
- I really appreciated it when restaurants (of this caliber) do this, but it was almost Rachel Ray’s quick ‘gourmet’ appetizer that I would make at home. I would have made this at home when I was 8. I guess I can’t complain if it’s complimentary though… hard to hold back.
- Again, it’s complimentary, but this should be a given… never put packaged crackers in a bread basket! I wouldn’t even do this at home. I doubt the bread was homemade, but it was fresh, soft and warm. (Note: In France, bread is traditionally not served warm).
- Jumbo prawns pan seared and served with red onions, garlic and vine ripened tomatoes $11
- This is one of their popular appetizers, along with the house made Caesar salad that they prepare along side your table just like at Hy’s Steakhouse.
- The prawns were fresh, but not really jumbo. They were slightly overcooked, but nothing I would complain about or bring up as an issue.
- The flavour was good, with fresh parsley and lots of garlic, but it was also something I could make at home. Lots of butter and the tangy taste of freshly squeezed lemon.
- As one of their most popular and recommended appetizers I expected more.
- BC Spot Prawn and Corn Chowder garnished with Chilliwack farmer’s bacon and fresh chives.
- This was a special they offered, but we ordered it as a separately for $7.
- It was actually a very well made corn chowder with local quality ingredients.
- The chowder wasn’t that thick in texture, but very thick with fresh ingredients. It was a spring chowder rather than a hearty winter chowder.
- It was savoury from the bacon and sweet from the corn, with no seafood flavour since it wasn’t a seafood chowder. It came with 2 BC Spot Prawns that were cooked separately so they stayed tender. Overall it was made very well and it brought back memories from the Seafood Chowder Chow Down.
Tempura BC Spot Prawns - 1.5/6
- First of the season tempura BC Spot prawns, with a light Thai chili sauce over a bed of mixed greens and fresh lemon.
- This was part of their 3 course $30 menu. It was a highly recommended appetizer and also shouldn’t have been.
- This just reinforced my “don’t order anything remotely Japanese unless you’re at a Japanese restaurant” mentality.
- It was that tempura batter you get from a box that fries up nice and puffy. The batter was really thick and floury and they got soggy quickly.
- The Thai chili sauce was probably from a bottle, however I felt like they made it their own by adding fresh garlic to it. I actually quite enjoyed the sauce, but again it was an under 30 minutes ‘gourmet’ appetizer that I would throw together last minute at home. Maybe not at my home, because I would have used a Panko crust or maybe even coconut.
- Grilled fresh Queen Charlotte halibut served with a chardonnay citrus beurre blanc and topped with fresh cilantro & a tomato caper salsa.
- This was the main course from the 3 course menu so it was a seasonal special.
- The portion is generous for fine dining and I actually think they did a great job on this.
- The halibut was fresh, thick, local, moist and well flavoured. The predominant flavours were butter (lots of butter!) and fresh parsley and other fresh herbs. It was perfectly salty with the butter and had a salty bite of capers. I actually really liked the salsa, it could have been less chunky and it would have made for better presentation, but the flavour was there.
- The squeeze of lemon just brightened the whole dish up and it was a great light and summery main course.
- It was almost the same flavour as the Jumbo Prawn appetizer, but with added capers and way less garlic.
- The veggies are sauteed in butter and they’re actually tender and tasty.
- I liked the baked breaded tomato they served along side too. It was very juicy and when I cut into it, it made a great sauce with the butter. It was perfect with the fish.
- Seafood Platter, lobster, fresh fish, baked oysters & sauteed prawns & scallops $27
- This tasted the same as the halibut special and as the Jumbo Prawn appetizer. I feel like all their seafood dishes are made the same way… butter, garlic, and fresh herbs with maybe some lemon. There’s nothing wrong with this combination, but I do think each dish should be different otherwise everything just starts to taste the same and it gets boring.
- Every single item on the seafood platter had the same flavour except for the oyster which was baked with cheese.
- The lobster tail (half) was sauteed in garlic and butter. We’ve all tried that before.
- The scallops (2) were seared, but over cooked. More chewy, less juicy. They were sauteed in garlic, butter, and fresh parsley.
- The fresh fish was the same halibut I ordered as my main course. It was a pretty decent size though and it was still cooked very well. It had a tomato salsa without the capers and was again pan-fried with butter and fresh herbs.
- The baked oyster (2 oysters) were surprisingly good, but they don’t look that good. They were not overcooked although the baked cheese had solidified and tasted like cheese under a heat lamp for too long. It was very cheesy, rich, creamy and buttery. It was a very indulgent baked oyster and reminded me of the Japanese baked oysters. I just which they were made and plated last on the platter.
- The prawns (2 prawns) where the same prawns we ordered from the appetizers – the Jumbo Prawns pan seared with red onions, garlic & vine ripened tomatoes. Lots of garlic and butter flavours… as usual.
- Filet Tenderloin, flambeed with Cognac, topped with a peppercorn demi glaze $28
- This was excellent! The portion was generous and they give you more sides than most fine dining restaurants would. They’re good too! I would actually come back for this dish and recommend it. It’s been on the menu since the restaurant opened and there’s reason.
- The sauce was absolutely delicious. It has a nice black peppercorn crust and they were cooked until tender and almost sweet and nutty. The whole peppercorns are soft and not as spicy, but still have a kick. It wasn’t really a spicy dish, but there was a warmth and aromatic quality to the overall sauce.
- The demi-glaze was not as reduced as it could have been (in terms of texture), but it was very French and flavourful in execution. It was rich with added cream and a slightly bold flavour from the Cognac. I could taste all the complexities of the sauce and the steak itself was cooked as requested – to medium rare. Good quality steak matched with good quality sauce. This steak soaks up all the sauce too.
- The round nugget potatoes are actually great as well. They’re tender and perfectly crisp and salty on the outside.
Old Surrey Restaurant has a fine selection of house made desserts. The fruit desserts are all seasonal and local so there is always something new to try. The classic French desserts they offer are the “Flambeed Desserts” for two, which are flambeed at your table. This include the Crepes Suzette, Cherries Jubilee and Sabayon. I had to go for the seasonal fruit special although the flambee was tempting. At this point, I was pretty full though.
- Abbotsford rhubarb and Okanagan pear compote served over honey puff pastry topped with caramel and an apricot puree, served with vanilla ice cream.
- This was the dessert to the 3 course menu we ordered. Ordered separately it would be $7.
- There’s a focus on local fruit and these ones were delicious. They were nice and tender and the portion was quite generous. It wasn’t too sweet and there was a lot of cinnamon flavour. It was also all over the plate. The ice cream was melting before they served it too.
- Overall it was very good, but you can’t really go wrong unless the fruit is still raw or overcooked, and it wasn’t either.