Restaurant: Bacchus Restaurant and Lounge (Wedgewood Hotel)
Cuisine: Fine dining/European/French/West Coast
Last visited: October 27, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 845 Hornby Street
Price Range: $50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Service: 2.5 (friendly, but not at standards)
- Fine dining
- Modern French cuisine
- West coast flavours
- Executive Chef Lee Parsons
- Award winning
- Four Diamond Award
- Nightly piano lounge
- Old fashioned atmosphere
- Casual bar area w/TV
- Weekend brunch
- Weekend Afternoon Tea
- Extensive wine menu
**Recommendations: Duo of Brome Lake Duck, Roasted Loin of Fraser Valley Pork, Piquant Lemon & Lime Tart
It’s a classic. It’s like a vintage Waltham pocket watch. The clientele ages faster than the brand and style. Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge is known to most, but frequented by the people who have been going there for years. It has a rather traditional and safe menu for its loyal following, and although often forgotten, it is classified as one of the time honoured “hotel restaurants” in downtown Vancouver, BC.
The award winning restaurant offers classic French and European cuisine with West Coast flavours, but I didn’t feel as inspired by it and I found the chef’s talent understated. A few of the dishes I had were predictable, but surprisingly all the meats were slightly overcooked and they had more potential. I found the photos of the dishes on the website very appealing and impressive, but it didn’t transfer to my actual experience there.
Perhaps it was just what I ordered, but I tried Chef Lee Parson’s creations at the Edible BC Bacchus Market Dinner on Granville Island and I must say I was more awed with that one. It could have been because he wasn’t under the limitations of cooking in a hotel restaurant, but I am a fan of what I’ve seen him do.
On this occasion I was dining in support of the Candlelight Conservation Dinner, where over 100 restaurants in BC promised to dim their lights for the evening to save energy. They also offered special promotions to encourage diners to participate and dine out. I have always wanted to try Bacchus so I made this the opportunity.
From the comfortable, velvety soft, sink in your seat, fit for royalty upholstery, to the live piano bar entertainment, and details of the fine bone China, it has a style that can withstand time. I’d like to say that the service matched the decor, but unfortunately it didn’t. The main server was friendly, but unless it was him bringing the plates, the service was not up to par for this type of establishment. The lack of knowledge about the menu and no descriptions of the dishes when presented were just the details that aren’t to be overlooked when fine dining. There was also an overcooked steak ordeal that wasn’t professionally managed and instead made awkward and a bit uncomfortable.
Besides that, I did generally enjoy Bacchus, but the chef is capable of making better than the dishes I tried. I just found some things a bit dated, however probably suited for their clientele. Dated, or classic, it is old fashioned, which is okay, but I was still looking for more refinement in the final touches. I was expecting more attention to details in all areas of the experience and I did feel that this vintage pocket watch could use a bit of a polish.
On the table:
- I’m pretty sure none of it was made in house, but the crisps were Parmesan and sesame crisps. It was a nice surprise because I’m used to those always being just plain sesame ones.
- The bread was served warm and it was a chewy sourdough made with whole wheat flour (?) so it had a nice nuttiness to it. It was moist, but not as moist as a great sourdough and the crusts were quite tough.
- Herb Goat Cheese Balls on Butter Crackers – The goat’s cheese wasn’t too gamey, but it was really thick, rich and creamy. The butter crackers tasted like crispy, puffy home made Ritz crackers which I liked.
- Saffron & Tomato Potatoes – These tasted like home made tater tots made with minced potatoes that were lightly deep fried. The dip underneath tasted like ketchup mixed with saffron scented aioli and both flavours were equal in strength.
- Fig chutney, toasted brioche $12
- It was a step down from the expected foie gras pâté from a fine dining restaurant, but I’m a fan of any pâté, so I just ordered this one.
- The toasted brioche was an upgrade from a standard crostini, and I’ll almost always prefer brioche to any bread so I loved this.
- This is a very classic country style French appetizer, but on an elegant level.
- The pâté was a fair size, but not as clean cut and and the white lard layer around it was too thick and a bit rough in presentation.
- The flavour of the pâté was savoury, very rich and buttery as expected, but I wanted more chicken liver flavour and it was a bit heavier on the butter and cream.
- It was still quite dense and not moussey or fluffy and it wasn’t as spreadable.
- The brioche was airy and light with a soft centre, and I wish it was crisp and evenly toasted, so I did miss texture.
- The brioche is rich, but not moist or buttery and it shouldn’t be because that’s what the pâté is for.
- I loved the apple puree which gave it a bit of sweetness, but I wanted more of it.
- The fig chutney was more tangy and sour with perhaps some pickled onions and pureed raisins for a little more sweetness, but it was still generally tangy. There was a faint bitterness and it did breathe a mild Cognac aftertaste.
- The pâté needed something tangy to cut the grease so the fig chutney helped, but I did miss overall crunchy texture since it wasn’t coming from the brioche.
- A side garnish of house pickled crunchy cornichons or pickled pearl onions would have been nice.
- I’m not sure which came first, although Hawksworth is the newer restaurant, but this was very reminiscent of the Foie Gras Parfait at Hawksworth Restaurant and they almost looked the same.
- If I had to choose one I’d choose the foie gras parfait at Hawksworth. Even if both were made with chicken livers, I’d still prefer that one based on execution, components and overall style.
- Braised cheek, choucroute, quince, sherry vinegar jus $28
- The “braised cheek” is what sold me.
- This was German or Eastern European influenced, but executed with French style.
- It was almost like a gourmet interpretation of a hot dog without the bun, although some toasted brioche croutons would make for great crispy texture.
- Pork and whole grain Dijon mustard are a match made in heaven.
- In this case there was a creamy Dijon mustard mashed potato topped with choucroute, which is a French style sauerkraut.
- The choucroute was made with crunchy pickled cabbage, onions, herbs and spices like Caraway seeds which were apparent. I would have loved some crispy pancetta in it for another level of pork and bacon-like flavour as well.
- It was well braised in a sherry vinegar jus with perhaps some white wine.
- There was a bright tang to the slaw and I could have used a little apple cider for some sweetness.
- The potatoes just soaked up the sauce and the mustard still came through with a mild kick.
- The quince puree added another fruity tartness which was a nice switch up from expected pureed apples.
- The roasted pork loin was a bit overcooked for me and it was quite tough and not so juicy. Pork should be a little pink when you cut into it.
- The braised cheek was fantastic! That was my favourite part, which is no surprise, and it was topped with some crispy breadcrumbs.
- The cheek had a crispy charred crust and it was fork tender, nice and fatty, but not chewy or gelatinous. It almost tasted like braised beef short ribs and it just made the pork loin seem even drier.
- I found this a bit more inventive than the other mains, although not as good as the duck.
- Roasted breast, slow braised leg, butternut squash, fondant potato, port wine cherry sauce $32
- I saw “duo duck” and naturally my eyes grew bigger. Seeing “Brome Lake Duck” made them almost pop out of their sockets.
- I didn’t see “confit” in the description, but I knew it would be in some aspect of the preparation.
- It was hearty and the portion was very generous and this duck was quite healthy and well fed.
- Brome Lake Duck is one of the best quality and oldest Canadian brands for naturally fed and raised ducks, but surprisingly it doesn’t come up often on the West coast.
- No question I loved the quality of the duck and the fat layer on the breast was nice and thin, and the skin was quite tender, not chewy, but also not crisp.
- The roasted duck breast was a bit overcooked for me and I prefer it medium rare.
- On the other hand Brome Lake Ducks can be cooked to a medium and still remain moist, but just not as tender as medium rare.
- The duck breast was a bit leaner than most (characteristic of the brand) and it wasn’t dry, but I did miss that super soft and silky texture. I think it was just the way it was prepared, but I still loved it.
- The slow braised duck leg had the crispy skin that I wanted on the breast, and the leg was the highlight.
- The meat just melted off the bone and in my mouth and it was super tender, juicy and full of flavour.
- The leg will always be better since it’s darker fattier meat, but having it braised and fried in its own fat was the icing on the cake.
- The best duck leg confit I’ve had in Vancouver thus far is probably from Le Gavroche – see their Duck Confit.
- The port wine cherry jus was very well reduced, thick, sweet and syrupy and it coated the duck meat beautifully like a glaze.
- The sauce was rich and buttery from natural duck pan jus and sweet from the port and cherries which also carried a bit of a tang.
- I loved the two seedless dark red cherries to complement the sauce.
- The cherries seemed to be preserved in a bit of brandy and they were very plump, juicy and sweet and had a subtle flavour of liquor.
- The fondant potato looked pretty perfect and smooth, but the flavour just didn’t deliver and it was a bit bland.
- The exterior was somewhat crispy and fried in a bit of duck fat, but it could have been much crispier.
- The inside was quite creamy, but I would have preferred a Yukon Gold Potato and this one just didn’t seem as buttery.
- I wouldn’t mind a shallower cut so that it would have more surface area to crisp up and the flavours would easily absorb better.
- It wasn’t as buttery or infused with garlic or herbs and I missed that.
- The butternut squash puree was smooth, silky, and sweet and it seemed a bit random, but I loved it! I was thinking it would be a fruit puree, but since the cherries were already there, the squash seemed appropriate.
- The vegetables included a generous bundle of crisp green beans, a roasted turnip and roasted parsnip which showcased the fall vegetables.
- Thyme and garlic roasted nugget potatoes, portobello onion rings, peppercorn sauce $38
- I rarely order steaks unless I’m at a steakhouse and this was an exception.
- I requested medium rare thinking that a restaurant of this caliber would actually serve it medium rare, but it came out medium and almost medium well.
- I rarely send things back, but at $38 for this type of restaurant I sent it back. It was just very tough and not enjoyable.
- Thyme and garlic roasted nugget potatoes, portobello onion rings, peppercorn sauce $38
- Call me a hippie, but I strongly feel that the mood of a chef/kitchen can affect the food.
- I’m not sure what happened, and maybe sending it back triggered the mood, but there wasn’t that much more of an improvement.
- The steak was better the second time, but it still wasn’t medium rare.
- It was quite dark, and I’ll give the benefit of the doubt it could have been medium rare, but if so, then I think it might have been the quality of the meat; because even the pinkest parts were chewy and tough. It took quite a bit of effort to cut.
- It had a thick fat strip, but it didn’t really help keep it moist and the fat just wasn’t as well marbleized, yet it was Angus beef.
- The steak was well seasoned, but the grill marks were quite blended.
- It was topped with a whole peppercorn sauce and basic pan jus that absorbed into the bed of vegetables.
- The steak sat on top of braised spinach and I think red leaf lettuce which was quite different.
- The jumbo onion rings were thick cut and heavily battered in flour and deep fried until crisp and golden brown.
- They were decently seasoned and very crispy onion rings, but also very greasy and so battered they were almost fluffy like doughnuts.
- I wish there was a truffle aioli or something to dip the onion rings into, because there wasn’t enough pan jus to use.
- With a steak, these meaty jumbo onion rings are suitable, but I much rather have the thin and crispy onion rings at StackHouse Burger Bar – see here.
- The veggies included roasted thyme fingerling potatoes that were buttery and tender. On top of those was a juicy Portobello mushroom cap.
- The serving was very fair, but the quality of steak and execution was sub par, so I wouldn’t order this again.
- If you choose to order it I suggest ordering one notch rarer than you usually would. I’ll usually only do that with non-fine dining restaurants.
- Raspberry sorbet $10.50
- I loved how it was served with sorbet instead of whipped cream.
- I really enjoyed this lemon tart, but with “lemon”, “lime” and “piquant” in the title I was almost expecting something sour, and it wasn’t.
- It was smooth, creamy, yet fluid, not thickened with many egg yolks and had a nice crispy caramelized brûlée topping.
- The curd was actually quite light but it did have a nice tartness that wasn’t sharp.
- I did forget that there was supposed to be lime in it and I thought it was just lemon.
- I didn’t see or taste any zest, but I loved the texture and it had a soft and moist shortbread like crust that made it almost seem like a cheesecake. I’m sure it was meant to be crisp, but I didn’t mind the softness.
- The raspberry sorbet was creamy and sweet more so than tart, and it reminded me of a raspberry real fruit puree popsicle without the seeds.
- Although enjoyable, I’d prefer the Lemon Tart from Crave on Main which also has a brûlée topping – see here.
- Vanilla bean ice cream
- Ordering crumbles always seems like such a waste since it’s so easy to throw together at home, but I just felt like one.
- I didn’t even realize the coincidental “apple & blackberry” reference and I’m not sure if it was intended.
- The crumble topping was fantastic and different than most. For me I like it with nuts, but that’s something different.
- The crumble was crumbly and not chunky or heavy with oats and not like granola. It was like cookie crumbs.
- It was incredibly crispy like a gratin crust and made with finely ground graham crackers and brown sugar.
- It was like a cheesecake crust that had been baked to a crisp. It was nutty, crispy, crunchy like a sweet graham cracker cookie topping.
- The fruits were cut in large chunks with their skins and the apples almost seemed like nectarines.
- It was mostly apples and they weren’t quite tender yet and still crunchy and very tart.
- I think there was some rhubarb and strawberries in it too.
- There was a hint of cinnamon, but it was very mild in spices.
- The few blackberries I came across were also very tart, and in a way it was good that all the fruit was sour because the crumble topping was a bit sweeter.
- It could have come with more vanilla bean ice cream, but the ice cream needed much more vanilla bean seeds and I couldn’t see much of it.
- Chocolate sauce, marmalade ripple ice cream $10.50
- I’m not normally a fan of orange and chocolate, but if it’s done right with the right kind and amount of orange, it can be delightful. This was one of those times.
- The marmalade ripple ice cream was made with actual shavings of orange rind.
- It wasn’t orange zest or little bits of candied orange, but thinly shaved pieces (size of dimes) of candied orange rind that wasn’t chewy, gummy or artificial tasting.
- It would be nice for the rind to be in short ribbons instead of small pieces, but I could overlook that.
- It wasn’t bitter, but aromatic and I loved it with the vanilla ice cream, but I do wish it had way more vanilla bean seeds.
- The marmalade ice cream didn’t taste like marmalade mixed into ice cream and it didn’t taste like an orange creamsicle either. I’m not enthusiastic about either, and I really loved this.
- It was much more sophisticated and fresh, not too sweet or bitter and just plain good.
- There’s nothing too surprising about a chocolate molten lava cake, it’s basically a half baked cake served warm.
- However I found this one too sweet without that earthy bitterness or nuttiness of a high quality bittersweet or dark chocolate.
- The cake was fairly large and very rich and decadent, so a few bites was enough.
- It oozed out a rich, creamy and very sweet chocolate sauce scented with orange blossom or cooked out Grande Mariner.
- The chocolate cake was very light and airy and not fudgy or like a brownie.
- The chocolate and orange was well balanced and the orange was quite subtle in the cake.
- The orange started off stronger and then after it was more chocolaty, and the orange ice cream brought it back in harmony.
- I still found the cake too sweet, but a few bites will leave you happy.
- Personally my favourite version of a warm chocolate lava cake is from Market by Jean-Georges – see Warm Chocolate Cake.