West Coast Chocolate Festival at Beyond Restaurant & Lounge

Event: West Coast Chocolate Festival at Beyond Restaurant & Lounge
Event Date: October 23, 2010
Restaurant: Beyond Restaurant & Lounge
Cuisine: West Coast/Italian/Pacific Northwest
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 1015 Burrard Street
Price Range: $30-50, 50+

I was invited to the 5 course Italian WineMakers Dinner which was one of the events at The West Coast Chocolate Festival. For this reason I cannot comment on the food or service on a regular night since this was a special event and it would not be a proper representation of what Beyond Restaurant and Lounge can really do. I also attended the opening night of the West Coast Chocolate Festival at Panache – see here.

Beyond Restaurant & Lounge is a fine dining restaurant inside the Century Plaza Hotel in downtown Vancouver, BC. The restaurant offers West Coast and Italian dishes and it flies under the radar due to it’s hidden location. I was so impressed with the interior design of the restaurant and it reminded me of fine dining restaurants in Las Vegas. The restaurant seats 300 people with a separate dining section and lounge. It was contemporary, sexy and sheek, however I can’t imagine it to be very intimate or getting very busy for that matter. I really don’t know any locals or tourists that have tried or even heard of the restaurant for that matter.

This 5 course Italian WineMakers dinner offered world class wines that were presented from the WineMakers themselves who actually flew in from Italy for the event. Executive Chef George Koay from Beyond Restaurant and Lounge who is relatively new to the scene prepared the 5 course meal to match the wines. However I actually enjoyed the wines separate from the 5 course meal because the wines overpowered most of the courses. It turns out Chef wasn’t given the wine prior to the event, therefore they didn’t match. I found that kind of odd considering it was a “wine pairing” dinner. Anyways, I still thoroughly enjoyed the event although I wish we got to taste dishes from the regular menu at Beyond Restaurant & Lounge.

On the table:

Complimentary Bread

  • It’s soft bread with some dried oregano and it’s pretty regular, but the best part is that they serve it with sun dried tomato herb butter. That was some good butter.

Shaved Prosciutto di Parma, Arugula Salad – 4/6

  • Mission dried figs, shaved grano padano, heirloom tomato, balsamic drizzle.
  • Wine pairing: Sauvignon – Peter Zemmer
  • I love fresh and dried figs and this had both. I love sweet and savoury together so naturally this salad was delicious for me.
  • It was very simple and fresh however I could have used more balsamic drizzle which was thick, sweet and tangy.
  • The salad was paired with a fruity wine which left a spicy aftertaste.

Prawn Agnolotti – 4.5/6

  • White wine sauce, sauteed prawns, chili oil drizzle
  • Wine pairing: Pinot Grigio – Peter Zemmer
  • This was one of my favourite courses of the night, especially since it was also the course that was best paired with the wine.
  • It was very simple buttery white wine sauce with a hint of cream, although there was no sign of chili oil or spice at all.
  • The ravioli was stuffed with rather chunky pieces of prawn, however they overcooked so it was a bit tough.
  • The Pinot Grigio added a sweetness to the dish and with the salty creamy bites of Parmesan shavings it was a match made in heaven.

Berkshire Porchetta – 1.5/6

  • Morel mushroom, soft cheese polenta, natural jus
  • Wine pairing: Nebbiolo D’alba – Veglio
  • I wasn’t a fan of this dish because the pork was extremely fatty so the cut wasn’t right for me. I would have been able to enjoy it more if it was tender though. These ones were quite chewy and I could separate the fatty parts from the lean meat parts. If it was prepared to the point of being really tender
    (which can be done) the fatty and lean parts would have married together and just melted in your mouth.
  • The polenta was quite cheesy which I liked, however the texture wasn’t that creamy. I wish the natural jus absorbed into the polenta but it just kept separate the whole time.
  • The wine was much too strong for the dish although it was excellent along. It was quite spicy and just a bit overwhelming with this dish.

Milk Fed Veal Tenderloin – 5/6

  • Eggplant parmesana, winter vegetable red wine bone marrow tomato sauce
  • Wine pairing: Barolo – Veglio
  • Beyond does offer version of this Milk Fed Veal Tenderloin on their regular dinner menu as well for $28
  • I rarely order veal because I feel bad for eating it, but if it’s there I’ll still eat it.
  • This was an excellent veal and it was incredibly tender it was almost like a filet mignon, which is my favourite cut of steak. This veal tenderloin was perhaps the highlight of the night.
  • The sauce could have been reduced a bit more but the flavour was still intense with a sweet meaty taste and tangy notes. It accompanied the veal perfectly.
  • I wasn’t a fan of the eggplant Parmesan because it was cut too thick and it wasn’t tender. The Parmesan crust was also soggy so the batter just peeled away. It’s too bad because I was really excited about it and I do love it. It also wasn’t the best side for the tenderloin because they were equally as thick and it almost felt like 2 mains rather than the eggplant being a side to the veal.
  • The wine was again too strong for the dish and it was even spicier than the Nebbiolo. It was very rich and sharp on it’s own, but it needed a bold demi glace or maybe if the sauce was reduced until it was thick and syrupy it would have accompanied the wine much better.

Pesca Frizzante – 5.5/6

  • Peach sorbetto, jeio cuvee prosecco, zaletti
  • Wine pairing: Jeio Cuvee Prosecco (For retail this Prosecco is $129)
  • This was a fantastic way to end the meal. It was light and refreshing so it was great after a relatively heavy meal.
  • It was almost like a lemon and peach slushy and it was nice and fizzy with the Prosecco. It was tart and sweet and tangy and it cleaned my taste buds of the leftover flavours from the previous dishes.
  • The zaletti was an orange cramberry Italian cookie and it’s inbetween a shortbread and a sugar cookie. It has sugar crystals throughout and the wonderful aroma of orange zest.

XOXOLAT

  • Assortment of hand made chocolates.
  • My favourite chocolate from Xoxolat is the Cardamom Crème Brulée Chocolate which is the little square with the brown cream brulee filling and praline cardamom seed topping.
  • It’s sweet and creamy and melts in your mouth with a lovely cardamom flavour.
  • It’s a velvety smooth centre with a slight crunch resembling praline and it’s just a bite of India’s heaven.
  • I also had them the week before at The West Coast Chocolate Festival’s Opening Night at Panache.
  • There was also a Sundried Tomato and Olive Tapenade Chocolate which I thought was pistachio and cranberry, thus I was caught off guard and did not like it at all. However once I knew what it was and was expecting the savoury taste, I could appreciate the idea more. It was still a bit odd for me (and I love out of the box recipes like this too) and the presentation could be nicer.

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4 Comments

  • Elaine says:

    I had a TERRIBLE experience once with Beyond for my friend’s birthday I vowed to never go back again =S

  • Bow says:

    The Berkshire porchetta needs to take a page from Northen Chinese cuisine: twice cooked pork belly which, if done right is incrediblely melt in the mouth tender whilst maintaining shape. Eggplant parmigano is in my opinion, the most overrated dish in Italian cooking. Wine mavens feel that an acidic, spicier wine goes with salamis and fatty meats…a young Chianti, a Fruiliano, perhaps a Veltliner or a Beaujolais. Try a white Cotes du Rhone or a good Viognier. A nice variation of the salad is using good Capicollo(pork neck) on a plate covered with young Arugula with slivers of pear, dressed in Xtra virgin and some crema di balsamico…wild boar is available and is moderately expensive.

  • Mijune says:

    @Elaine – yowza! That’s not good. I can’t imagine them having a busy night so it’s sad that you had a bad experience… if it’s with the food they did change chefs I think.

    @Bow – wow bow! I didn’t know you were a wine connoisseur as well! Yeah it turns out chef didn’t get the wines ahead of time so he wasn’t able to match the dishes with the wine… it kind of defeats the whole purpose of a “wine pairing” dinner unfortunately. Thanks for you comments Bow, I always love reading them!

  • Elaine says:

    My friend had a birthday at Beyond for like at least 60 people there and it was buffet style for $35. The price was decent for a restaurant like Beyond, except the food… in my opinion, was barely worth it. It’s nothing like their regular menu… Think of bland boat cruise food… What made us frustrated was the fact that although we were the only ones in the restaurant aside from like 2 or 3 other parties, their service was MINIMAL. Keep in mind that there’s an automatic 18% charge slapped on. Aside from filling up the food at the buffet, any time we asked for water and ordering drinks, we must have asked at least 3 times before it would actually come. Honestly we could’ve gone to The Keg for around the same price with better food and better service. It’s a bit of a personal experience but I don’t think I would ever return to Beyond. What a great way to anger 60+ people =S I also feel bad for the birthday girl because there’s a cake cutting fee for $1.5 per slice…

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