Restaurant: Federico’s Supper Club
Last visited: June 17, 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!!
Ambiance: Depends on which night/event
- 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 – Review/Visit 1
**Recommendations: Bufala Mozzarella e Peperone alla Genovese, Carpaccio, Gnocchi Pomodoro, Risotto del Giorno, Risotto d’Anatra, Pappardelle con Coniglio, Brasato di Manzo al Barolo
The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada recently announced that three Vancouver restaurants were to receive an Italian Quality Seal Certification. It’s a prestigious recognition given to restaurants around the world for their excellence in authenticity, creativity and use of traditional ingredients in Italian cuisine. The restaurants that received the award were Cibo Trattoria, Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill and Enoteca and Federico’s Supper Club.
I admit it did catch me off guard. Cibo Trattoria I’ve never been to and Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill was a given, but Federico’s was a dark horse I didn’t see coming. Personally I’d give a shout out to La Quercia as well, but congratulations to the three awarded restaurants.
It’s not that Federico’s isn’t good, but it’s quite often forgotten and I find it’s rare people give it a second chance if they weren’t wow’d the first time. It’s always on the “will check it out one day” list, but it never seems to be a priority. Part of the reason I think so is because most people think nothing ever changes here, and to some degree it’s true. The restaurant is an old soul, from the old fashioned bow tie server uniforms to the florescent red Broadway lights, and while that might work for some, it can come across as stale or dated for others.
It’s no doubt that the ambiance and atmosphere of a restaurant can also make or break a dining experience. Quite often I try to separate experience from food, but on this occasion the two came hand in hand. That’s because I was invited by my good friend Patrick Maliha (who’s one of Vancouver’s best stand up comedians) to attend Federico’s Supper Club: Dinner and a Laugh! It was my second time at this event and unfortunately my last experience (see here) was short-lived by an unforeseen emergency; however this time was a charm, and charmed I was!
The evening starts with live music from Vancouver guitarist Sandro Camerin (photo above), which is a treat in itself. It’s a bit of a shame that the room understandably gets louder as it fills up though because his music is beautiful. It’s the moment he plays “Hallelujah” when I get as lost in his music as he does. It’s actually one of my favourite parts of the night and I savour it as much as I do my favourite dishes.
Award winning stand up comedian Patrick Maliha
The mood quickly changes as the pace picks up and a series of comedians follow Camerin’s mellow musical act. I warn you that you will likely get poked fun at the closer you are to the stage. The comedians this evening were fabulous though and they knew just when to move on. Mind you, I wasn’t in the hot seat, so laughing at others is always slightly easier.
For me Federico’s Supper Club is about the overall dining experience more than it is the food. The food generally was very good if I combine all my experiences together, and some of the dishes as well as the featured talent is what I would come back for. They seem to have a solid following of regulars, hence the constant rotating of the menu, but I think it struggles to find a new audience. With places like Scarlet Supper Club popping up, it could be the revival of the “Supper Club” concept, and hopefully a revival of Federico’s as well.
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. For Patrick Maliha’s Dinner & A Laugh comedy package here.
On the table:
- 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.
- This was chef’s daily special of the night.
- Local crimini and shitake mushrooms, Pecorino Romano, and garlic rubbed crostini.
- I could smell the aroma of truffle oil as soon as it landed on the table.
- It was a pretty small bruschetta and the mushroom topping was delicious, but I wasn’t a fan of the crostini.
- The crostini was more like crustless toast and it was soft, chewy and a bit soggy and I missed the crunch.
- It was topped with plump, juicy, sweet and savoury wild mushrooms in a creamy rich sauce and shavings of Parmesan cheese and chives.
- It was wonderfully savoury with salty bites and full of rich mushroom aroma.
- The sauce on the side tasted like a thin homemade Caesar salad dressing with a powdery Parmesan cheese texture and I found it a bit unnecessary and overwhelming.
- The side was an arugula and frisee salad tossed in a simple lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.
- It wasn’t as creative as his Ahi Tuna Bruschetta special I tried last time, but it was still very good for what it was.
- Bufala mozzarella with half roasted pepper, stuffed with vine ripened tomato, anchovies, arugula, basil vinaigrette
- It didn’t jump out to me on the menu and it’s more of a traditional choice, but it was a recommendation and it was 10x’s better than how it looks or sounds. Yes it does already sound and look quite good, but it tasted amazing!
- This was a bonus because they served it with Burrata rather than Bufala Mozzarella! That’s going from gold to platinum!
- The melting Burrata cheese was the Italian kind and not the Californian kind. Had it been Buffalo Mozzarella, I don’t know if I would have been as excited.
- The Burrata sliced like a poached egg and oozed out a fresh thick pool of cream and was topped with fruity olive oil and Maldon salt.
- It was a take on a Caprese salad and it was incredibly fresh with quality ingredients and full of flavour.
- It was wonderfully savoury and juicy with salty bits of olive, a small amount of anchovies (I could use more) and then creamy burrata that wrapped itself around the ingredients.
- The juicy, roasted, sweet and tangy plump Roma tomato was cradled by a sweet and tender roasted red pepper and the tomato was so juice it was almost a sauce in itself.
- The basil vinaigrette gave the rich burrata some acidity and there was also a hint of creamy herb puree, which was supposed to be pesto, but I couldn’t taste any pine nuts or much herb flavour from it. It also needed more of it.
- I just wish there was some fresh basil leaves to finish it off, or even pine nuts.
- If you’re ever in Vegas you should try the Caprese from Nove Italiano – see here.
- Spaghettini pasta, sundried Sardinian mullet roe, aglio e olio, dried chilies, parsley.
- This is a very simple and light pasta and it’s very traditional Italian in flavours, ingredients and style.
- The spaghettini was past al dente, but the general public would consider it perfect. I’d just make the request next time for a bit less cooked.
- I really love Bottarga, but it was grated so minimally over this pasta that its flavour was too subtle.
- The pasta doesn’t have a fishy cured flavour, and it should somewhat.
- The sauce was savoury, nutty and buttery with a touch of white wine and that was well done.
- There was some heat from the chilies, but it wasn’t spicy and I just wanted more Bottarga.
- This pasta would be great with a crisp summery white wine.
- Ribbon pasta, braised Fraser Valley rabbit, black olives, pancetta, garlic, tomato sauce
- Again the pappardelle was past al dente, but the general public would consider it perfect. I’d just make the request next time for a bit less cooked.
- I love rabbit (tastes just like chicken) and any braised meat, so naturally this pasta seemed right up my alley.
- The rabbit was very shredded and soppy and almost like pulled chicken. I only wanted more of it in the pasta.
- There was great olive oil aroma and salty bites of olives, but the sauce was a bit runny.
- The rabbit didn’t seem cooked with the sauce and its juices didn’t taste infused in it either.
- There was some stewed tomatoes and it was slightly spicy with some fresh parsley to brighten things up.
- I wasn’t crazy about the tomato sauce, but I liked the ingredients and the pancetta could have been crispy, but it came unnoticed in flavour and texture.
- Personally I prefer a white sauce with rabbit over a tomato sauce, but even so this tomato sauce needed some rabbit au jus or something to develop the flavour.
- Saffron infused pasta, braised beef , pioppini mushrooms, red wine sauce
- The spaghetti was past al dente again, but the general public would consider it perfect. I’d just make the request next time for a bit less cooked.
- It’s the word braised that gets me every time. I couldn’t let this one slip by.
- The saffron infused pasta enticed me, especially after the celery infused fettucine I had from Raincity Grill. I couldn’t taste the saffron though and I didn’t get it in the aroma either. I think it would have shine more with tagliatelle or parpardelle pasta because the flavour needed more surface area to grab on to.
- Unfortunately the chunks of beef were really lean and dry too and I thought they were going to be shredded into the pasta like a ragu rather than in cubes as they were.
- There were pieces of cherry tomatoes and the tomato sauce was light and tangy, but it was heavy on the acidity and underdeveloped and I would have preferred a richer beef broth sauce.
- I found it needed some meaty flavour and more aromatics and this just didn’t come together as well as I was hoping it would.
- Duck confit, organic mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, salsa piccante
- All their risottos seem to be a solid choice and it’s as reliable as their amazing Gnocchi Pomodoro.
- This was the favourite of the night, and I loved it!
- It was so rich, creamy, saucy and full of flavour that it could have been a meal on its own.
- The spoonfuls of duck confit risotto just melted in your mouth like butter on a hot pan.
- Unlike all the pastas, the rice was al dente and perfectly cooked! It wasn’t mushy or gummy and incredibly well flavoured with Parmesan, white wine and butter. I could almost tastes each of these layers, yet it was so well balanced.
- I could have used more duck, but the pieces it had were tender. I do wish it was more shredded rather than chunks though.
- There was some heat, but it wasn’t spicy and there was some syrupy duck and mushroom au jus (?) to bring it altogether.
- There was a little wilted spinach at the bottom and an absence of tomatoes and salsa piccante, which I didn’t mind and thought would be unnecessary anyways.
- Grilled Mediterranean sea bass, orange and black olive salsa, roasted celeriac.
- This was a very summery, light dish and it’s something I’d suggest to drink with a crisp and sweet white wine.
- There’s quite a lot going on it and it’s bold with sweet and savoury ingredients that speak of Mediterranean.
- I love sweet and savoury dishes, but this one wasn’t as well blended or balanced.
- The boneless sea bass was moist, juicy, tender and flaky with a very crispy well seasoned skin which I loved.
- I found the orange wedges on top a bit overpowering for the delicate fish, although I liked the concept.
- It would just be sudden bursts of orange and I wish they were a bit more incorporated or infused into the sauce.
- The oranges just made the fish seem juicier and then there would be salty bites of olive in between. It was almost like a fruity citrusy tapenade.
- A citrus infused fruity olive oil with some deep fried capers might be less sharp than the orange and olive fruit salad like salsa.
- I was enjoying the dish in components rather than a whole.
- I loved the roasted celeriac which were buttery, tender, and tangy with a mild celery flavour. Chef really likes this ingredient, and I like it too.
- As a side, it did enhance the tanginess of the whole dish and it did keep things on the lighter side.
- The celeriac was plentiful and there was some wilted spinach and tangy cherry tomatoes, which made for a more substantial main.
- This was chef’s daily special of the night.
- Grain fed veal Marsala, sauteed sweet peppers and spinach, soft polenta with Parmigiano.
- This was a very hearty main. It’s Italian comfort food.
- The veal cutlets weren’t that tender or pounded thin enough so it was quite chewy. The portion was very good though.
- The soft polenta with Parmigiano was delicious and that just melted in my mouth like butter.
- The polenta was ultra velvety, smooth, rich, buttery, creamy, cheesy and salty from the Parm and simply heavenly. I think there could be some celeriac root pureed into it because it carried a tang.
- The veal was slightly tangy as well with a hint of black pepper in the seasoning.
- The pool of sauce was a bit lemony rather than sweet and the Marsala wine was reduced nicely into it.
- The sauce just combines into the polenta and by the end there’s not an ounce of sauce left.
- It was served with some sauteed spinach and sweet roasted bell peppers.
- Flourless Callebaut chocolate banana cake.
- This wasn’t what I was expecting and it was pretty good, but I wanted more banana representation.
- The dessert had a few components and I didn’t know where it was really going.
- It was some sort of almondy banana cake (hidden in the photo) topped with the Flourless Callebaut chocolate banana cake. The presentation was very unusual and unexpected.
- I could taste the aroma of banana, but I couldn’t really taste actual banana.
- The chocolate torte was rich and creamy and almost like a ganache made with dark bittersweet chocolate. It was completely smooth and I didn’t know if there was banana pureed into it because it was so faint if there was.
- I was getting a bit confused with where the banana and flavour was coming from. It was either in the chocolate portion or the cake portion at the bottom and it just got quite muddled.
- The almond banana cake underneath was very nutty and almost like a half baked marzipan cookie.
- I probably wouldn’t order this again, although it was interesting to try.
- Ricotta, semolina, pine nuts and raisins, baked in a sweet pastry crust.
- Grandma’s cake! This is a very traditional Tuscan-Italian dessert and it’s very similar to a lot of desserts you may find in Eastern European cuisine too.
- I actually like this dessert, but it wasn’t that good here.
- It’s a very light and fluffy rustic Italian style cheesecake/pie/torte with a soft and tender pastry crust at the top and bottom.
- It’s not creamy, but almost cakey, mealy and crumbly with lots of ricotta filling, but it’s actually not that cheesy or rich.
- It’s very moist and it had lots of vanilla bean flavour and seeds throughout, but there were barely any raisins or pine nuts.
- It’s not a dense heavy cheesecake, but it’s almost neutral in flavour and it really wasn’t that sweet at all.
- I was also hoping for the flavour of lemon, which it should have, but I couldn’t taste any.
- The top is often covered with toasted pine nuts too and I missed the nuttiness and overall traditional flavours and execution.
- Daily selections
- They only had vanilla gelato available and I had to order it. I love gelato.
- It’s creamy, made in house and bursting with vanilla flavour to the point where it’s almost floral.
- It’s quite sweet and almost perfume like with vanilla and I could see the vanilla beans throughout.
- It’s served on top of a house made pastry which was a rolled sugar almond cookie. This could have been what was underneath the chocolate torte too (?).
- The cookie was tender, soft, semi-chewy, sweet and nutty with the strong aroma and flavour of marzipan (almond paste). It was like a half baked cookie meets a brownie tart and it was delicious!
- As simple as “vanilla gelato” is, that cookie was fabulous and I would order this again.