Restaurant: The Flying Pig
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast/American/Local
Last visited: September 22, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Yaletown)
Address: 1168 Hamilton Street
Price Range: $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 3-3.5 (based on few items I tried)
Ambiance: 3 (lively, but loud)
- Pacific Northwest bistro
- Focus on local
- Seasonal menus
- Fair portions
- Moderately priced
- Line ups for dinner
- Cocktail/wine bar
- Neighbourhood favourite
- Weekend brunch
- Mon-Fri : 11:30 am to Midnight (lunch and dinner)
- Sat-Sun: 10:30 am to Midnight
**Recommendations: Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib
So what is up with all the pigs?! Another pig post? I am a fan of the oinker, and it just so happens that I recently posted on The Spotted Pig and Traif in New York. These restaurants love the pig as much as I do, on the other hand “The Flying Pig” isn’t about celebrating the pig at all. It’s just the name. What the restaurant is said to celebrate is fresh, local ingredients and that very popular farm to table concept.
The Flying Pig is the newest and hottest restaurant to hit Yaletown and finally it’s not another chain restaurant. However the two owners have played roles as chefs at Glowbal Grill (Glowbal Group restaurant), which some consider chain-like. Anyways chains have their place, but it’s time to return to what Yaletown once was.
Although it is a new independent restaurant, the concept and style is familiar. It’s a casual neighbourhood bistro with West Coast inspired European dishes at somewhat affordable prices. It’s not actually affordable, but given the area, it’s on the affordable side.
I came on a weeknight at about 10pm and there was still a 15-20 minute wait for a table, so it’s obviously well liked by neighbourhood locals. There was a rowdy table and the service was on and off and I can’t say I had a very pleasant experience. Ambiance aside, the food was okay for what the restaurant is and it’s not a place I would save for special occasions.
The farm to table theme came across in the decor, and local ingredients were in mind, however it wasn’t a focus. I only tried a few things, but apparently they were the best things on the menu, or at least the best sellers. The food was actually quite basic and they weren’t really unique recipes or anything new, and I just wanted a bit more originality. I can appreciate it for what it was, but even so, some things could be better executed. It reminded me of Local 360, an excellent restaurant in Seattle, but it doesn’t come up to par, although it wasn’t bad.
I wouldn’t object to coming again and trying more dishes, but I’m also not in a rush too. I would do it more because I’ve heard so many good things about this place, but not necessarily because the food I had this night made me that excited to come back.
On the table:
- Bone marrow mashed potatoes $19
- After having Pink Ribbon Tea at Fairmont Vancouver and indulging in Thierry Patisserie desserts (see here) almost all day, I opted for something light. That, and it was already 10:15pm. Yes, I’m pretty bad, but I ate this with no regrets!
- This is the house favourite and I can see why. This was hearty gourmet comfort food.
- It popped out to me most on the menu, as “braised beef short rib” usually does, but the added “bone marrow” was the highlight.
- The beef was served off the bone and it must have been marinating for ages because it was incredibly tenderized and required no knife.
- It was very soft and falling apart, but it wasn’t even that fatty, or at least the fat was well marbleized.
- It was as tender as pulled pork and it shredded beautifully with my fork (I could have even used a spoon), and although it was moist and not dry, it wasn’t juicy either.
- It was smothered with a simple red wine reduction and it wasn’t as dynamic in flavour as fine dining reductions, which is fine because it’s not that kind of restaurant.
- The sauce was thick and syrupy, but it wasn’t really sweet or tangy or layered with additional seasonings and flavours. It was well made sauce, but standard in flavour .
- The generous bed of mashed potatoes was almost like a pommes puree and it just absorbed all the red wine sauce so nicely.
- The potatoes were silky and velvety with a creamy melt in your mouth texture and it was fluid, but not runny.
- There were little tiny bits of potatoes throughout so that it wasn’t completely smooth and I just loved them.
- I actually would have preferred the bone marrow served in the bone, because I couldn’t taste it hidden in the potatoes.
- The potatoes didn’t taste meaty or buttery, and they could have been more garlicky, but they weren’t bland either.
- The rich sauce helped dress them up and made for ideal “mashed potatoes and gravy”, but it was a lot of two things and some added pearl onions would be nice.
- Some fresh vegetables to emphasize that local theme would be appreciated too.
- Crispy gnocchi, chilliwack corn nage $22
- They offer the same thing for lunch for $16 and the portion doesn’t look much smaller judging by photos.
- The halibut was a fair size, well seasoned and seared nice and crispy in butter.
- The initial chew was moist, but after a couple more, it was significantly dry.
- Halibut tends to have a firmer, meatier chicken like texture, but this one could have actually passed off as chicken and I missed the flakiness of halibut.
- I always prefer fish with the skin, but this probably isn’t suitable for the masses. Too bad, it’s where all the flavour is.
- The gnocchi was delicious! I loved it.
- The pillowy light, tender, soft and creamy gnocchi melted in your mouth and the actual gnocchi was seasoned throughout. It had an herb like scent, but it wasn’t strong and it even tasted a bit cheesy.
- The gnocchi was pan seared, but not quite crispy and was well dressed with nage sauce made of white white and butter. It tastes like a beurre blanc sauce but emulsified butter is added at the end which gives it richness.
- There was also a hint of chili pepper in the sauce and a lemony tang in the butter to keep it balanced.
- The side carried a bit of spice, but it wasn’t spicy and it gave the sweet corn a nice kick. It would have been great if the corn was roasted as well.
- There were also some green peas, caramelized shallots, and broken cherry tomatoes that gave the dish some acidity.
- I loved the side, but the fish was disappointing and it would have been great if it was poached in the nage sauce and then seared upon serving, which I don’t think it was.
- Thyme and mascarpone $9
- This was quite bland and ordinary. The local aspect and thyme and mascarpone components didn’t come through either.
- It came with a decent amount of lobster and crab, but it was either frozen and/or cooked separately and then tossed together at the end.
- I actually don’t mind frozen seafood, but it needs seasoning and I wanted the flavour of seafood in the risotto.
- The prawns were cooked fine, but unseasoned so they actually tasted quite frozen, and then the lobster was also bland, but at least not chewy.
- The risotto just tasted buttery and mascarpone alone doesn’t have much flavour so it needed some added Parmesan cheese, or even just salt.
- The texture was creamy and the risotto was al dente, but it was a bit on the gluey side. Maybe they cooked it half way and then finished it off upon serving, which is common in a restaurant context, but overall this wasn’t well executed.
Desserts – I almost only had desserts the entire day, and I still had some Thierry Patisserie desserts to get through. However I still should have ordered dessert here since the chef is known to make them well. I’ll be back to try these!