Federico’s Supper Club

Restaurant: Federico’s Supper Club
Cuisine: Italian
Last visited: February 25, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Commercial Drive/Grandview)
Address: 1728 Commercial Drive
Price Range:$30-50+ ($50-60+ on Supper Club nights)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5-4 (but it really depends on what you order)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: Depends on which night/event
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Italian cuisine
  • Casual fine dining
  • Wine bar
  • Seasonal menus
  • Set menus on Fri/Sat
  • Hand made pastas
  • Special features
  • Moderately priced
  • Popular for dancing
  • Attracts ages 35+
  • Live music/entertainment
  • Cooking demonstration classes available
  • Fri-Sat Supper Club nights
  • Wed-Sun: 5:30pm until closing (12am)
  • Federico’s Supper Club – Post/Visit 2

**Recommendations: Bufala Mozzarella e Peperone alla Genovese, Carpaccio, Gnocchi Pomodoro, Risotto del Giorno, Risotto d’Anatra, Pappardelle con Coniglio, Brasato di Manzo al Barolo

Man, the one and only time I visited Federico’s Supper Club was when I was fourteen and it was with my parents and their friends who are into the ballroom dancing scene. Federico’s offers a stage for live entertainment and a nice dance floor, so it’s no doubt that people come here for more than just dinner. Having said that, my parents are also long time friends with the owner Federico himself, and often hire him and his band for events they organize in their own social circles. They’re an excellent live band and I’ve had the honour to hear them play and sing on several occasions for many years now. Nonetheless Federico knows who I am and was aware that I was there for dinner, but that doesn’t change the respect he has for my honest opinion, which is what I’ll always give.

I can’t say it’s a place that was on my dining itinerary, but hey a lot can change in ___ amount of years, however a lot can also stay the same. Whether or not change is a good thing for Federico’s, is something you’ll have to keep on reading to find out :).

It wasn’t until my funniest friend, Patrick Maliha, an award winning comedian in Vancouver, told me that he started a monthly event called Federico’s Supper Club: Dinner and a Laugh! It’s a planned out evening which features a 3 or 4 course dinner at Federico’s followed by professional stand up comedy for one inclusive price. Therefore on behalf of Mr. Maliha and Federico’s Supper Club, they invited me for the evening with no strings attached. Not only is Patrick my friend, but an evening of dinner and laughter sounds great to me! For more details on his event please see here.

This musician that played before the comedy show is amazing… I could listen to him play forever.

Federico’s is an Italian restaurant and given the “supper club” concept it definitely has its regular clientele. The ambiance is a bit more mature and the restaurant and aspects of the menu can use an update for sure, but nonetheless when the hired entertainment is on, you almost forget about everything around you. I say almost forget, because for a foodie like me I can never forget about the food.

So was the food worth remembering? I’d say half the things I ordered were very memorable and the other half was quite mediocre. There are some classic Italian dishes and recipes that seemed like they’ve been there since it opened, but there are also some innovative specials more influenced by West Coast flavours. The Executive Chef has been the Executive Chef at Cin Cin Ristorante for eight years too, so I was curious to see how this dinner would play out. I haven’t tried the whole menu, but from I did try there are dishes that shine above others. I must say that if I could order the carpaccio, gnocchi or risotto, and braised beef, I would be a happy girl for sure… and for $50 + a comedy show, I’d be grinning from ear to ear.

Note: They only offer a price fixe menu for Friday and Saturday night, which are their Supper Club Nights. It’s 3 courses for $50/person and 4 courses for $60/person only on comedy nights, but on any other Supper Club Night it’s 3 courses for $45/person and 4 courses for $55/person.

On the table:

 

Complimentary Bread & Butter

  • It came with a very standard baguette that was more like ordinary bread than a baguette. It was served warm, semi-crusty, but very soft and fluffy.
  • It also came with some crunchy bread sticks, but I doubt any of it is house made.

Ahi Tuna Special – 4/6

  • This was chef’s daily special of the night and the most creative in execution and presentation.
  • It’s an ahi tuna with green pea puree served on a lemon garlic focaccia with asparagus, pumpkin seeds and tomato sauce.
  • This was the dish that showed the most heart. It wasn’t necessarily my favourite, but I tasted and saw the love he had in it.
  • It’s more West Coast than it was Italian, but as a special that doesn’t bother me.
  • The ahi tuna was perfectly seared and seasoned and I loved its natural buttery flavour matched with the creamy sweetness of the green pea puree and the contrasting tang of the tomato sauce. Everything was very fresh and separate, yet it went very well altogether. The fruity drizzle of olive oil just rounded up all the flavours when eaten all together.
  • The pumpkin seeds added a nutty crunch and was almost like sesame seeds to the ahi tuna, or the pine nuts to a pesto sauce, which was green puree in this case.
  • My only issue was that almost all the components were chilled which limited the flavours they could have had. The ahi tuna is fine chilled, but the rest should have been warm.
  • It was almost like an ahi tuna sandwich and the zesty garlicky focaccia was perfect in wiping up the rest of the green pea puree.

Ravioloni con Ricotta e Spinaci – 2/6

  • Hand-made ravioloni filled with ricotta and spinach, roasted red pepper and tomato cream sauce.
  • This is one of the old classics and favourites on the menu, but I just didn’t get it.
  • It was heavily sauced with a sweet and tangy cream sauce, but it didn’t speak of fresh tomatoes although the sweet and smoky flavour of the roasted peppers did shine through.
  • It was 2 large pieces of round home made ravioli and the pasta skins were really soft, flimsy and overcooked.
  • The inside was filled with ricotta and spinach, but there wasn’t much filling. It was a bit cheesy and I could taste creamy spinach, but eaten with the sauce it was really masked.
  • I just found it was a dish that lost its textures and fresh flavours and even some freshly chopped parsley or basil on top would have helped.
  • I know it’s a popular favourite, but I think it’s ready for retirement… or maybe just for the retired…

**Carpaccio – 5.5/6

  • House made sterling beef carpaccio arugula, shaved Grana Padano, truffle oil drizzle.
  • For what it was, it couldn’t get much better.
  • It was simple, authentic Italian and made with fresh ingredients. I had no complaints.
  • The beef was barely seared and sliced paper thin, which to me is even better. It had a naturally buttery beefy flavour on its own and the quality and colour were great. At times it was a tad chewy, but for the most part it was excellent.
  • The generous amount of Grana Padano gave it a salty nutty bite, but it wasn’t overpowering and the arugula and frisee added a peppery freshness and slight bitterness that kept the plate fresh.
  • The truffle oil just added the something special to what was already special. There could have been a drizzle of high quality olive oil as well because it was noticeably fruity.
  • I think there was some lemon zest and juice in the salad which enhanced all the flavours on the plate in a very natural way.
  • I loved the creaminess of the rich meat, salty bites of cheese, zing of lemon, aromatic truffle and fresh greens to give it texture and added flavour.
  • All you need is the freshest ingredients for this and using extra virgin olive oil and truffle oil, was obviously the instant upgrade.
  • The beef was still the star of the show and everything else was the well dressed entourage, which is how I think a dish like this should be.

**Gnocchi Pomodoro – 5/6 (6/6 for the gnocchi themselves)

  • Hand-made Yukon gold potato gnocchi, fresh tomato sauce. (Appetizer size)
  • The gnocchi is made in house and it was fantastic!
  • It’s a Northern Italian style gnocchi and it honestly reminded me of a gnocchi I had in Tivoli once made by an Italian mother who was well known for her gnocchi.
  • The gnocchi was slightly sweet and ultra creamy from being made with Yukon gold potatoes. The texture was not only creamy, but almost stretchy and doughy. They were pillowy and light, yet they still had a creamy chew to them.
  • I could taste the little bit of egg and it was honestly one of the best gnocchi I’ve had. The only thing is that it didn’t have the fork ridges, which wasn’t too big of a deal since the sauce held on pretty well even without them.
  • The sauce was a simple fresh tomato sauce, but I was looking for that roasted and/or fresh tomato puree flavour. I think it’s maybe reduced with some white wine and I also could have used way more basil and even more garlic.
  • It was savoury and tangy sauce with some acidity, and not creamy, so the texture of the gnocchi stood out even more.
  • As great as it was, I think it’s better enjoyed as an appetizer size.

**Risotto del Giorno – 5/6

  • Chef’s daily risotto feature. (Appetizer size)
  • It was a roasted artichoke risotto with mint, chives, lemon and garlic.
  • The flavours were great and they definitely took their time in preparing this.
  • The texture was perfect and it was nice and creamy with the Arborio rice still keeping its al dente bite.
  • It was actually a very tangy risotto with the pieces of artichoke hearts and added lemon zest.
  • It had salty bites of Parmesan cheese which was also melted into the white wine cream garlic sauce, however it was still predominantly tangy more so than cheesy or garlicky.
  • My favourite part was the added mint. The mint just gave it an aromatic flavour and in combination with the lemon it really gave the creamy risotto a dynamic and fresh flavour.
  • I think it could have used a little sweetness with perhaps the addition of green peas, and I do wish the artichokes were roasted to the point of being caramelized, or even having a smoky flavour. I don’t think would have interfered with the delicate mint and lemon.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this risotto and really hope that they’re consistent with the cooking times and overall execution on any other night.

Petto di Pollo Ripieno – 2.5/6

  • Chicken breast stuffed with caramelized pears, gorgonzola, prosciutto, grape mustard sauce, celeriac puree, asparagus.
  • I was more of a fan of the sides and sauces more so than the actual chicken.
  • It was one of those items that sound better on the menu and I was expecting so much more.
  • My favourite part of the course was actually the celeriac puree, which was freaking delicious.
  • Celeriac, or celery root, tastes like a cross of celery and turnips. When it’s in a puree I’m used to it being tangy, but in this case it was more on the sweet and savoury side. It was creamy, but at the same time quite fluid and thin, yet flavourful. It’s silky smooth with perhaps a lot of butter and cream, which just made it extra velvety and rich as a sauce and it held up nicely with the chicken.
  • It was accompanied with a grape mustard sauce infused with chicken au jus which was well reduced, syrupy, sweet and tangy. I feel like there was some juniper berries in the reduction because it was quite fruity more than mustardy.
  • I loved the combination of the tangy creamy celeraic puree with the syrupy sweet au jus, and together it mimicked and trumped the idea of mashed potatoes and gravy. It was a delicious sauce with the chicken and roasted veggies.

  • The chicken was quite sweet with a smoky and caramelized dry rub and skin, however the skin wasn’t crispy.
  • The meat wasn’t dry, but it also wasn’t as moist as it could have been.
  • My biggest issue was the stuffing, because there wasn’t much of it at all. There was a lot of filler going on and I could barely taste the pears, Gorgonzola and prosciutto. It just seemed like a mushy puree of the ingredients and it didn’t seem fresh. If I ate it alone I could taste the sweet pear and a very mild Gorgonzola flavour, but it definitely wasn’t the star of the show.
  • On the other hand the veggies it was served with were great.
  • It was served with pencil thin sweet and tender asparagus, roasted sweet celeriac root, and some of the best roasted potatoes I’ve had. They were ultra creamy and buttery Yukon gold potatoes that were well seasoned with the skins on and infused with lemon. It was actually a very memorable roasted potato.

**Brasato di Manzo al Barolo – 4.5/6

  • Braised beef in Barolo reduction, mushrooms, crispy gorgonzola polenta, winter vegetables.
  • I feel like this could be a hand me down recipe and something that’s been on the menu since the restaurant opened. I feel like it’s Federico’s mother or grandmother’s recipe. It has that aura for sure.
  • The beef was nicely browned, but the exterior was a bit dry, however the inside was very juicy and parts of it were falling apart tender. It was two medium sized pieces and it was well executed with the cut used and there were natural bursts of beef juice oozing out, but only upon certain bites.
  • The beef was slowly braised in a Northern Italian Barolo red wine reduction and I only wish it was reduced even more until the sauce was thicker and more intense with flavour. I can’t say that I really tasted the wine infused into the meat, but the meat was still delicious for sure.
  • The reduction was a bit soupy and it had a tomato sauce tang to it, which I really wish it didn’t. Well authentically it should have some tomato paste, but I found this one had a bit much. I would rather it be more thickened by process of reduction since a Barolo has so much flavour that it was almost a waste that it didn’t come through. It’s normally a very aged wine, but I’m not sure what year they used in this case.
  • I understand that costs have to be met, but knowing it’s a Barolo reduction was almost the “selling factor” so I’m really torn by this dish.
  • It was served with some button mushrooms, spinach and turnips, but it really needed a starch to soak up the leftover sauce.
  • The crispy Gorgonzola polenta was very crispy and quite creamy and cheesy, but it didn’t have much of a Gorgonzola flavour. I think there was probably some Parmesan or another cheese used in the polenta. It was a nice addition that I looked forward to and it added a contrasting texture, but it wasn’t the most appropriate starch for the dish.

Dessert

Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen emergency I had to leave early, however they were kind enough to pack up my desserts to go. The dessert menu is all made in house desserts and they were quite enticing. These images are desserts to go, which is nice to know is also available!

Chocolate Semifreddo (Dessert Special of the Day) – 2.5/6

  • This was the dessert special of the day and I was really excited about it because semifreddo doesn’t come up too often.
  • It’s pretty much an Italian style semi-frozen mousse.
  • The semifreddo itself was very good and it wasn’t to sweet at all. It was light with nice air pockets, yet still creamy as it melted in your mouth.
  • It seemed more like milk chocolate and it wasn’t too rich, but it was drizzled with this super sharp and tangy sauce that tasted like a caramelized orange sauce.
  • I really wasn’t a fan of the sauce, because I found it overpowering for the semifreddo and just too sour and sharp in general.

Tiramisu – 4/6

  • Layered espresso dipped lady fingers mascarpone cheese mousse.
  • It was a very good tiramisu, but not the best I’ve had. I actually like the one from Q4 (see here), although it’s probably pricier. I’m not sure how much this one is a la carte.
  • I really was not a fan of the chocolate and caramel drizzle. I much rather have the classic cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.
  • The cake itself was good though. It was nice and moist, and the lady fingers weren’t overly soaked.
  • It was a nice balance of cake to mascarpone cheese mousse as well.
  • I couldn’t taste much Rum, but the espresso did shine through, although not strong, and the mascarpone mousse was quite light and fluffy.
  • Overall it wasn’t too sweet and the sweetness came from the syrups, which I could have done without as previously stated.

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14 Comments

  • Bow says:

    I don’t think of Frederico’s as fine dining but rather the old school of dining and been entertained or after dinner dancing…I love because there aren’t many venues like this left. It’s a link to the past…Vancouver supper clubs(like the Cave, Izzy’s, the Marco Polo, the Panorama Roof, where sometimes you discovered” an act before Vegas did, etc.). Nice pics, the food looks good, there’s always some “hit or miss” due to our tastes. I like the look of the carpaccio , brasato and the risotto, Thanks for the review.

  • Linda says:

    i always pass by this place on my way home from work – i’ve heard good and bad things about it and the only time any of my friends go here is for dine out – but with the review of some of your items, it may be a promising place to go for me 🙂

    i think one of my biggest pet peeves is when restaurants don’t bake their own bread – i bake my own bread sometimes at home so i don’t really get it when restaurants don’t do it lol i had no idea that there was only 2 massive raviolis underneath that thick sauce – i prefer smaller ones in not such thick sauce – i find that if the sauce is so heavy, it really just takes over the flavor of the raviolis which in this case, it did!

    mmm can’t go wrong with carpaccio – if restaurants can’t do this right, then i’d be hesitant with the rest of the items on the menu… almost like if chefs can’t cook eggs properly 🙂 the chicken menu description looked so promising – but non crispy skin really just takes the cake.. i also don’t like that the underside of the chicken wasn’t browned properly!

    wow the appetizer sizes for the gnocci and the risotto look huge! i’m glad they were delicious!

    mmm the brasato di manzo al barolo looks so delicious – everything that i like in a good meat dish 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – I agree with you! You’re right. Originally I wrote “casual fine dining”, but then I know they call themselves “fine dining” and they have that on their website as well. But you know what, I think I should insert the casual part back in… because you are right on that. Was actually waiting for your comment! Surprised you didn’t comment on Mochika’s yet! lol

    @Linda – great! Yes I mean like I said there’s always hit and miss… and if I only ordered ravioli, stuffed chicken and the semifreddo… I probably wouldn’t come back for the food either. but yeah, I mean my post is based on my own palate, so I’m n0ot sure the kind of things you like… but hopefully I left enough details for you to see what I experienced in my mouth to determine if it’s a dish for you. So yes, I still think it’s worth a shot… but of course that’s up to you.

    The gnocchi and risotto were great as a shared appetizer for 2… and I’d assume as an appetizer size they should be around $12-16? I have no idea though… but that’s what i think they’re worth.

    the bread thing.. I’m with you on that when it comes to restaurants that are in the “fine dining” category… but I don’t hold it against them if they order in from a local bakery either… but depends which bakery lol.

    Thanks for YOUR comment again Linda!!

  • Rachelle says:

    Ooo nice pics…very old school! You make the gnocchi sound so good even though it looks unremarkable. The ravioloni however tasted as bad as it looked I guess…reminds me of school lunches actually =S

    Btw…you made a typo re: the breads…” I was served warm, semi-crusty, but very soft and fluffy.” Heh. Although I’m sure you have a crusty side as everyone does, but at the same time very nice, soft and fluffy on the inside…I guess you aren’t really meant for serving. 😉

  • Bow says:

    Mijune, I came to the party late, after 25 comments…congrats though ! for finding a hidden gem . The price is right and the food looks great.

  • Mijune says:

    @Rachelle – lol awww thanks!! Yeah I know it doesn’t look impressive, but the texture of that gnocchi is quite remarkable.. let alone the flavour :)… yeah I hate to say it, but it kind of reminded me of Alphaghetti :S

    LOL!!! bhahhha!! oops!!!!!! What’s an error!! Thanks for that! I better go edit! 😀

    @Bow – lol no worries! I was thinking to myself, this seems like something Bow would like!… well if you end up trying it out, keep me posted on your thoughts! I’m always curious! 🙂

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