Restaurant: C Restaurant
Cuisine: Seafood/Fine Dining/West Coast/Pacific Northwest
Last visited: July 9, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: #2 – 1600 Howe Street
Price Range: $50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 3.5 (for this menu)
- Kambolis Restaurant Group
- Fine dining
- West Coast/Pacific Northwest cuisine
- Seasonal menus
- Local ingredients
- Award winning
- Leader in sustainable seafood
- Specializes in seafood
- Executive Chef Robert Clark
- Oceanfront view
- Heated patio
- Award winning wine list
- Ocean Wise
- Weekend brunch – see here
- Dinner Daily from 5pm
It’s the season for patios and I must say that the one at C Restaurant is quite the escape in Vancouver away from the noise and downtown core. It’s a bit more sophisticated and quiet as it overlooks the waterfront view instead of the energetic downtown streets. It’s not to say one is better than the other, but it depends on what side of Vancouver you want to see and experience.
At this point I definitely have to tell you that the patio has gone through a makeover and it doesn’t look like the image you see above. The view hasn’t changed of course, but there’s been a major upgrade and the patio actually looks like it’s suitable for a fine dining restaurant, unlike before. So what does it look like now? Well here’s a peek!
Okay, so the professional photo certainly helps. It’s like Reese Witherspoon post divorce, polished and better than ever. It now has more of a Miami feel and look, so you actually see value in the ambiance.
I’d probably appreciate some music too though. I’m not asking for a Vegas night club, or an orchestra (although they had a string duet that night for a special event, which I loved), but just something classic and not as formal would be nice.
They call the new patio a “Patio Bar” and a “cocktail lounge” and it is more modern with a lounge-like feel. With comfy white sofas and a built in bar in the centre, with an attached BBQ grill, it’s hard not to get comfortable. I get cold really easily, so for me the bonus are the heat lamps and blankets… yes I don’t retain heat very well.
So now that you know that the patio is new, does it change anything? No, probably not really. For quite some time I always considered C Restaurant as a pretentious fine dining restaurant, so I wouldn’t go there unless it was for some special occasion. I’m not sure if you feel the same way, but probably some of you do, and they sensed it too. That’s why they introduced a new tapas menu featuring grill snacks and more casual fair.
The new summer grill snack menu includes a series of $6-8 raw, cured, and grilled tapas including tea-cured Hawkshaw Salmon with pickled shallots and tomato jam ($6), Squid with pea, mint, parmesan, lemon and olive oil ($6), a lamb chop with saffron cous cous and raisin jus ($6) and even a Foie Gras Torchon with rhubarb foam and brioche ($8), just to name a few. There’s even a “Pretty in Pink” cocktail and wine list featuring rose inspired drinks including “The Molly Ringwald”.
If you want to check out the new patio without dropping the big bills, don’t sweat it… now you can. You don’t even have to stay for dinner. And seriously, if you get any attitude for it, feel free to comment back on here because I’d be really disappointed. Yes, I have heard from some of you about your negative Groupon experiences at C, and I feel your dissatisfaction and can only hope that their customer service improves.
On this occasion I was here for their “Pretty in Pink” Summer Patio Launch Party. It was unexpected, but I was pleased to be invited for Chef de Cuisine Lee Humphries five-course tasting menu featuring Hawkshaw wild salmon from the Skeena River afterward. Salmon and summer go hand in hand, and I was quite honoured to enjoy it with some friends and Chef Robert Clark (part creator and advocate of Ocean Wise and Executive Chef at C Restaurant).
As for the five course tasting menu ($65), it was good. It’s probably not the best tasting course I’ve had at C Restaurant though. There were certain courses that stood out above others, with the main certainly being the most memorable and worth the visit alone. It was a fresh and enjoyably menu, but not as inspiring as I hoped. From a value perspective I found it a bit pricey, and some portions a bit small.
Personally I would prefer the Market Monday Menu at Raincity Grill – see what that’s all about in my post here. It’s 4 courses for $65 with wine pairings and I’d highly recommend that from a food and wine enthusiast perspective. It’s also a Kambolis Group Restaurant, but they’re different. They both have patios, C’s being nicer, but Raincity Grill overlooks the beach, so it really depends on what you’re looking for.
Note: This five course Hawkshaw Salmon Menu is now available throughout the summer for$65 without wine pairings.
On the table:
- I’m not keen on rose, and I had a good amount of their delicious Sangria, so I decided to go for something non-alcoholic – the Lychee Temple.
- It was sweet with lychee syrup and a splash of Sprite I think.
- It had some frozen and thawed local strawberries on top and I wish they were muddled into the drink with a squeeze of lime and some zest.
- In a nutshell, it was good, but not fine dining good, and you come to C Restaurant for the stellar wine list, not for this.
- I always say this, but I love their house made breads here.
- It’s served warm with three varieties (image shows two) and smoked sea salt butter.
- The seaweed bread is my favourite, but it tastes different every time. It even looked different this time and was better than the other times.
- It’s a tender, soft, crumbly loaf with a crispy crust.
- It was extra seaweedy so it was a bit saltier and chewier than normal and I could bite into pieces of soft seaweed.
- It also had black sesame seeds in it instead of white, so it was nuttier than usual and more aromatic.
- It’s not that salty and I actually prefer it with the smoked sea salt butter, but alone it’s easily enjoyed too.
- Pea, mint, parmesan, lemon, olive oil
- It was a very simple, light and clean start to the multi-course salmon dinner.
- The salmon was presented sashimi style and sprinkled with a bit of crispy Maldon salt to enhance its natural flavours.
- It was creamy smooth and meaty and drizzled with a bit of fruity olive oil and topped with frisee.
- It was served on a bed of fresh local and raw green peas, minced Parmesan cheese and some mint leaves.
- I wish the peas had been steamed because serving them raw didn’t show off their summery sweetness or bright green colour. They were crunchy instead of juicy and I just like the flavour of them cooked more.
- I also wish there was a stronger presence of mint. The mint was minimal with maybe just a couple roughly chopped leaves. It did wonders for the peas and brightened up the dish, but I just wanted more, and perhaps cut in a chiffonade.
- The parm wasn’t a very salty or hard, and with the raw peas it had texture, but I prefer the juicy pop of cooked green peas.
- It was marinaded with lemon zest and I would have loved this dish had the peas been mixed with salmon roe rather than cheese. Just imagine the colour too!
- I think it maybe just needed more mint, salt and black pepper as well.
- Fried quail egg, crisp prosciutto, tomato horseradish
- This was the salad course and I found it quite small.
- Chef seems to love the use of quail’s egg and crispy prosciutto, which is fine by me, but I always see them here.
- I could smell the smokiness right off the bat and even a little sweetness.
- The salmon was unreal. The smokiness was infused through every crevice of the flesh and I felt like I had just gone camping or visited a long house. I’ve never even been camping, but I choose this! This was amazing!
- The salmon was perfectly cooked, incredibly moist and flaky. It was so buttery and oily that it was almost like sable fish. The quality and cooking was top notch.
- The horseradish jam tasted like sweet and tangy cocktail sauce and it was a bit smoky and crunchy with horseradish, almost like a relish, but not spicy.
- I loved the egg, but I wish it was less cooked with a runny yolk and a bit less oily.
- The crispy salty bits of prosciutto are always a hit and that was the salt to this dish.
- Overall it’s a well balanced appetizer, but for some reason not that memorable, except for the salmon part. That was an unforgettable piece of smoky salmon.
- Orange, vodka compressed watermelon, fennel
- This was the most creative course, and I wish I liked the outcome more, but at least the course was inspiring.
- I loved the concept and was probably the most excited about this dish, but I wasn’t a fan of the execution.
- There was so much going on and I couldn’t find the flow of flavours no matter which combination I tried everything in.
- I felt the flavour of the watermelon stripped away from the strength of the vodka and it was a bit overpowering.
- The watermelon almost tasted like it was soaked in Sambuca with a strong licorice flavour. That was due to the thin shavings of fennel that was placed on top.
- I wish the watermelon wasn’t just one giant strip like a steak and I was hoping for it to be minced almost like a relish.
- I also wasn’t keen on the texture of the salmon eaten with the watermelon especially since they were almost the same colour.
- I find the salmon to be great in texture, being sous vide, but it was under seasoned, so even alone its flavour was mild.
- The watermelon already has so much liquid that the infused juices were all I could taste in every bite.
- The broth was quite good though. It was a bit oily but on the sweeter side from a hint of orange and watermelon juice, and it had the aroma of saffron and fennel seeds.
- There was just a lot going on and I think it could have worked, but just in a different manner.
- Creamed corn, tomato herb verige, fried oysters
- This was easily the best course of the entire dinner and I’d ask if it’s available a la carte because it was was amazing.
- Chef loves tempura oysters so seeing that was almost like a “signature Chef Lee Humphries” move.
- These ones had a heavy floury puffy batter though and I couldn’t taste much of the oyster. However they were great dipped in the cream of corn sauce!
- I wish the batter was more seasoned or had some chili powder in it (I was surprised it didn’t) because it just needed a little more.
- The cream of corn was such a treat and exactly what the dish needed and what I was hoping for with the first appetizer of green peas. I wanted that natural sweetness from the vegetable and I got that here with the corn.
- The corn was crunchy, fresh, and local and it was incredibly sweet and juicy.
- It was a different cream of corn, unlike the ultra creamy and thick Southern ones I’m used to.
- This was a “clean” cream of corn. Although it was rich it didn’t taste overly rich, creamy, or greasy. It was still buttery, well seasoned and sweet and I loved it!
- It was a very loose cream of corn and it almost seemed like it was separating, but the flavour was heavenly.
- A little sprinkle of crispy prosciutto, or even more appropriate, salmon skin, would take it to the next level.
- Again, the salmon was treated with some TLC and I loved that it included the skin.
- The skin wasn’t as crispy as I prefer, and it was a bit on the chewy side, but at least it wasn’t soft and soggy.
- The salmon flaked so easily and the natural oils released like sablefish. It was incredible to just look at.
- The salmon colour was beautiful and the meat was rich for salmon, smooth and slippery and melted in my mouth. It was ridiculous.
- The tomato herb verige was very tangy, tart, juicy, and aromatic.
- The herb verige was mixed with lots of whole toasted spices like coriander and mustard seed, but it didn’t even taste Indian at all. It was so interesting! It just made it taste more lemony and it brought out the flavours of the herbs which were basil, parsley and dill (?).
- The tomatoes were a bit too pickled for me and bordering on purse your lips tangy, but it worked well with the cream corn and gave that sweet and tangy contrast.
- Overall it was an excellent dish with beautiful presentation, comforting yet unique flavours, and still appropriate for the summer weather.
- I found it too small as a dessert course and there’s not enough ice cream.
- The cone actually tastes good though! It’s made in house and it tastes like a sweeter fortune cookie, but not as almondy and it’s even crunchier.
- The only time I like mint chocolate chip ice cream is when it’s made with the real ingredients, like this.
- The ice cream is refreshing and cooling and made with real mint leaves and good quality soft chocolate chips, but it was gone before you could start to really enjoy it.
- It’s a melon ball sized scoop of ice cream and the rest of the cone is filled with fresh whipped cream which makes me even sadder.
- It’s a solid dessert, but portion wise… where’s the rest?
This is an impressive looking Stuffed Lobster main another table had ordered and I couldn’t resist from asking to take a photo. I refrained from asking to take a bite, although it was insisted and offered. I politely declined, and I don’t know why