Restaurant: Judas Goat Taberna
Last visited: March 12, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown)
Address: 27 Blood Alley
Price Range: $10-20, 20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Tapas style
- Mediterranean tapas (modern)
- The Heather Group Restaurants
- Popular to locals
- Hidden location
- Seasonal menus
- Busy on weekends
- Small selection of wine/beer
- Small/limited seating
- Quick, casual modern dining
- 1.5 hour seating time
- Reservations recommended
- Tues-Sat 5pm-late
**Recommendations: Duck Confit & Foie Gras Terrine, Foie Gras on Toast with Green Apple, Gambas al Ajillo, Marinated Beets with Spice Ricotta & Rosemary Honey
We weren’t even hungry after a very full day of eating. We started with dim sum which included Peking duck and sea bass at Red Star Seafood, which was followed by an intense cupcake tasting and then a friendly stop at Bella Gelateria. But when two passionate food bloggers come together there’s no end to it… until one of them has to call it quits in order to get to hockey practice… yeah and that wasn’t me.
Sherman (thank you for the photos) and I were always curious about Judas Goat and my interest peaked even more when I hosted a $100 give away for The Heather Group Restaurants – see here. Out of their five restaurants in Gastown I had only tried the Long Table Series at The Irish Heather (see here) so I wanted to see how their other restaurants stacked up.
I’ve only driven by Judas Goat on one occasion since it’s hidden away in Blood Alley, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was actually quite surprised to discover it was so tiny and only seated a maximum of thirty people. It got full pretty fast so I would highly recommend making reservations especially on weekends, although I’d assume it’s quite busy with locals living in the neighbourhood on weeknights.
The service is quick and casual and so is your stay. They make that clear right on the menu where it says “The Rules: As intended with this style of eating, our seatings are short – you’ve got an hour and a half!” So there are really no surprises although the ambiance seems a bit cozier and inviting than what the menu suggests. I felt like I was at “Western” dim sum with a “dim sum” like order form as a menu which offered a good variety of meats and a handful of seafood items.
The menu is seasonal and it changes frequently, but it’s more or less modern Mediterranean style tapas that are meant to be shared. It’s mainly Spanish and Italian, but there’s a lot of West coast influences as well. Even though I was expecting tapas/small plates, I wasn’t expecting the portions to be as small as they were. At times I found they were quite overpriced for what they were, and in this case I saw more value and satisfaction in Mis Trucos, which is very similar in concept and style.
Overall the food at Judas Goat Taberna was good, but also not as impressive or satisfying as I thought it would be. I saw it as a place for pre dinner drinks or after dinner drinks more so than an actual dinner place, but with the time limit, I’m not sure if I would really come for either.
On the table:
- It was a home made baguette, tomato relish, quail’s egg and crispy prosciutto.
- These were good, but literally bite sized so you have to order one per person. I found them pretty pricey for what they were.
- The baguette was crispy and it was quite tangy from what tasted like tomato paste rather than “tomato relish” and I wish the egg wasn’t as cooked as it was.
- It was a nice and crunchy with a crispy salty bite from the prosciutto and then the tang from the tomato, but it wasn’t anything surprising either.
- I shared BEEF tongue with Sherman! Don’t let him convince you otherwise! Thank god my post will likely go up before his.
- I’m kind of torn between this tapa because I was expecting a Mexican or Spanish style salsa verde rather than an Italian one, which is what it was.
- It was a very tangy and sharp Italian salsa verde and it tasted like it was made with soft pickles and vinegar and it really hit your nose even before biting into it.
- It almost tasted like a pickled parsley sauce with some salty anchovy, maybe some smashed capers and perhaps a little mustard. It didn’t have a crunchy texture, but it carried a very bold and sour flavour which killed any natural herb flavours that it was also made with.
- The whole thing was a bit oily, but the tongue was incredibly tender and soft. If you’ve never tried beef tongue it’s incredibly lean, not gamey and very smooth. Since this one was braised it was ultra soft too.
- It was very flavourful and I did like the contrast of crunchy baguette and soft beef, but I just found the tang on the salsa verde a little too strong and I just wanted something to pull it back a bit. I think a garlic aioli or something to that degree would have worked.
- This is one of their popular tapas and I actually did like it and see its value, although the foie gras was the size of a quarter.
- It came with about 5 crostini and the terrine was actually quite large.
- There was also an onion marmalade with some spiced fleur de sel served along side.
- The duck was nicely cured and quite savoury with a flaky quality that wasn’t dry either.
- There were actually plump raisins in it and some black peppercorn, but it could have used more of both since I wouldn’t have known it was in there until I dissected it.
- I couldn’t taste the sweetness of the raisins or the spice of the black pepper and it was basically savoury throughout.
- The onion marmalade added great texture and crunch and also made the duck confit less heavy and salty.
- They said it was pickled onions but it was much more sweet than it was tangy. It worked really well bringing out the natural sweetness of the duck and creating great balance with the richness and salty cured flavours of the terrine.
- This is another house favourite. As simple as it was, it was damn good and I enjoyed it.
- It wasn’t even made with the described “green apple”, but I still liked it although I could imagine it being even better with the green apple. Green apples just add that extra crunch and tartness.
- Each crostini, or toasted home made baguette, was generously topped off with rich creamy and thick foie gras pate.
- It was ultra smooth with a strong foie gras flavour and the julienne apples just cut through the richness and added a nice sweetness to the savoury pate.
- I love the sweet and savoury contrast and creamy, crunchy and crisp textures and I saw the value in this as well.
- I really wanted to love this, and I really love pear, but it really didn’t work.
- The cold smoke salmon was was too salty and no matter how much pear relish I tried eating with it, the salt was the only thing I could taste. I just think the scallions needed to be mixed into the pear relish as well and it needed another ingredient to help fight the saltiness.
- The pear relish was actually quite sweet and honey like in flavour. It was a grainy unripened Bartlett pear so it carried quite a crunch and texture. It was marinated with a nice vinegar tang, but it didn’t do anything for the salmon.
- It was trying to play with the sweet and salty balance, but it was really unbalanced because the main ingredient (salmon) was just too salty in the first place.
- It kind of brought me back to the House Cured Gravlax dish which suffered a similar problem at Commune Cafe.
- I love Sablefish, but this one was very underwhelming and overpriced for the size and execution. I’d say it’s meant for two people, but easily finished by one as well.
- I found it a waste to have it sitting on a baguette and it would have done better sitting on a bed of creamy white beans or pureed yams, or something similar to that in starch.
- For some reason the Sablefish was almost pasty without the moist flakiness it usually carries. It’s a near impossible fish to mess up, so I’m not sure what happened to the texture.
- It was seasoned well with salt and pepper and the yellow colour just tasted like olive oil and I actually don’t think any Maple or sugar was used on the actual fish.
- It was served with a side of Maple sugar that you sprinkle on top before eating.
- The maple sugar mimicked the idea of a seared crust and it was actually okay to use liberally because it was mixed with what I think was toasted bread crumbs so it wasn’t too sweet at all. It was finely ground to almost a crispy powder, but it just didn’t make sense to use it on a Sablefish that was sitting on top of a crunchy baguette.
- These were really unique and different from anything I’ve ever tried of this nature.
- It was cold water prawns rolled in citrus aioli with a garlic and shallot crust served room temperature.
- The first one I had I thought the texture was really weird. The second one I had I actually really liked it. The last one I had I found it was good, but the unique qualities had kind of worn off.
- The texture was very unexpected and the crust was semi crispy and almost powdery, and I was surprised it didn’t become pasty.
- At first it tasted like a semi-soggy powdery crust that was replicating a “deep fried” quality, but since the prawns were wet and somewhat cold, it just came off as a bit odd.
- The crust was a bit nutty and wonderfully savoury. I think they deep fry the shallots and garlic and then turn it into a finely grounded powder to roll the prawns into.
- The citrus aioli acted as the binder and it added a bright tang yet it didn’t overpower the sweetness of the prawns or the aromatic salty qualities of the crust.
- These were again slightly overpriced for a room temperature tapa.
- I think I saw about ten of these come out in the hour I was there for. It’s definitely the favouite in the salads section and maybe even just in general.
- The portion was quite generous and there was a good amount of each component to make up the dish.
- The beets were tender and sweet and the sweetness was enhanced by being marinated in aromatic Rosemary infused honey. The Rosemary was quite mild and it added a floral like quality to the beets, but it played more in the background of the dish more so than as the accent of it. It left that je ne sais quois quality if you didn’t know it was in there.
- The spiced Ricotta I’d say was the accent, but it didn’t taste spiced at all. It was actually very light and fluffy and I found it literally and figuratively refreshing from the usual “goat’s cheese & beet” idea.
- I think the mild and slightly sweet ricotta actually played in favour of the beets as well, allowing the beets to really shine.
- It was a very light and summery salad and the natural flavours of the ingredients were really the highlight of the dish.
- I just wanted to top it off with some pine nuts or walnuts, for some crunch, but it was enjoyable as is.