Restaurant: Cinch Grill Italian Cuisine
Last visited: December 15, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Robson Street/West End)
Address: 1517 Robson Street
Bus: EB W Georgia St FS Denman St, Train: Burrard Skytrain
Price Range: $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 2-2.5 (based on what I tried)
- Italian cuisine
- Casual, but nice
- Moderately priced
- Extensive menu
- Lunch and dinner
- Couple tvs
- Patio seating
- Open late
**Recommendations: n/a, but if you’re here, then the Braised Beef Short Ribs and the Cinch Pasta
Whoa. 90%+ on Urbanspoon with 80+ votes? That’s high! I was certainly curious and I put it on my restaurant list. I couldn’t think of its location and I’ve never heard of it before either, and I actually drove by it twice trying to look for it. A hidden gem? Perhaps! I was hopeful… and unfortunately I’m still hoping for it… to get better.
That’s the challenge when dining on Robson, Denman or the West End. Even as a local, it’s hard to judge what’s a hidden gem, neighbourhood favourite, and tourist trap. The area is full of all of the above and I try to play it safe when I’m looking for options in the area. On this occasion, it was a desperate time and almost everything was booked for the evening so I resorted to Cinch Grill.
From the outside I was pretty uninspired and when I saw it I had recalled walking by it in the past, but never really paid attention to it. At first glance I placed it in the “tourist trap” category, but the whole Urbanspoon thing made me think I could be in for a pleasant surprise. I probably should have gone with my first instincts, although the food wasn’t inedible, it was just quite disappointing and not at downtown standards.
I like to think they tried, but the menu was way too big and there were a lot of shortcuts. I can’t even say it’s good for the area because there are better options in the West End and especially downtown for Italian food at this price and portion. Therefore I probably wouldn’t come back, although I can see why some long time locals in the area probably love it. It used to be a deli, but during the Olympics they upgraded and renovated to a casual, but nice restaurant. I think as a deli it could have been great and perhaps it just kept that loyal following.
I was really rooting for this small and family owned restaurant, but the food couldn’t lie and neither can I. Personally if I wanted this price range, level of dining and Italian food on Robson/West End I would prefer Cafe Il Nido, Nook, Ciao Bella Italian (haven’t been in a while), or maybe the new Cosca which I have yet to try, but looks promising. Basically, there are lots of options to explore.
I think Cinch is Italian owned and operated, but if they cut half the menu and pour some love into those items and serve them like how they would at home, I think it would be great! I bet they could too! *Finger crossed*
On the table:
- Tomato Sauce, Parmesan and Bocconcini Cheese, Fresh Basil $9
- This was a pretty sad eggplant parmesan and I thought it was a salad at first.
- The eggplant was thinly sliced and I couldn’t really tell it was eggplant at all.
- There was some tangy sun dried tomato sandwiched between the layers, and the parmesan was minimal.
- It was almost too premade and pre-prepared and a bit dried out and shriveled.
- The salad had some minced fresh tomato, typical wild greens and radicchio, and I’d really call it a salad.
- It was drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction, but overall I wouldn’t call it an eggplant parmesan.
- Tiger Prawns, Mussels, Scallops and Squid, Saffron and Fresh Tomato $15
- The risotto wasn’t too bad, but the seafood was really not very good.
- The scallops were barely seared and only on one side and the shrimp was crunchy and not overcooked which is good.
- The mussels tasted a bit fishy and almost slimy and undercooked. They were fresh, but they didn’t taste fresh.
- The risotto was a bit soupy and runny, but at least the rice was al dente and firm.
- There was a creaminess to it, a bit of tomato and a little Parmesan cheese, but I would still say it was runny.
- The flavour was heavy on packaged chicken stock and there was a hint of saffron in it that I could taste. There was no seafood broth or flavour in the risotto though.
- There was some fresh basil, but overall I was kind of eating the risotto because I was hungry, not really because I enjoyed it.
- Roasted Chicken, Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Herb and Truffle Cream Sauce $13
- I actually enjoyed this! For $13 it was a reasonable portion and pretty good.
- The noodles were thin, and firmer than I expected. I wouldn’t mind them a bit firmer, but most people would be satisfied with this texture.
- It has a creamy sauce that was buttery and flavourful with freshly cracked black pepper, basil and a hint of truffle oil.
- There was some roasted red pepper and the sauce was creamy, rich with olive oil, chicken pan jus, and a hint of cream and it had good flavour.
- It’s easy to make, but it was still good for the restaurant and probably as good as a good pasta at Earl’s.
- Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs, Beef Marrow, Horseradish Mushroom Sauce, Roasted Potato $18
- This was the best thing of the night, but I wouldn’t call it Italian.
- The beans were crisp, the beets and zucchini tender and the roasted potatoes were buttery, creamy and well seasoned.
- It was a huge slab of short rib that literally came melting off the bone and it was very likely that they were boiled first.
- It still had flavour though and it was topped with a mushroom pan jus.
- The beef was quite fatty and the meat was juicy and moist and very tender.
- I enjoyed the beef, but it’s not really something I couldn’t get anywhere else.
- I wouldn’t come back for it, but I did enjoy it.
- The tiramisu smelled like Hershey’s chocolate sauce as soon as it landed on the table. I wasn’t keen on that.
- I don’t think there was any rum, but at least the lady fingers weren’t over soaked and I could taste the coffee. It wasn’t strong espresso, but it was there.
- The marscapone layers were generous, but they didn’t taste like marscapone. It was more like a sweet creamy layer and I wanted more marscapone for sure.
- The cake wasn’t dry, and I actually liked it better than the one at Nook (from what I can recall), but there are better tiramisus than both.
- This settled my sweet tooth, but as a tiramisu it wasn’t that satisfying.