Restaurant: C Restaurant
Cuisine: Seafood/Fine Dining/West Coast/Pacific Northwest
Last visited: January 25, 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: #2 – 1600 Howe Street
Train: Yaletown-Roundhouse Stn Southbound
Price Range: $50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try
Food: n/a (Dine Out 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
Dine Out Vancouver menus and events are at their halfway mark and there’s still another week to participate in this annual food festival. I recently posted on my thoughts about Dine Out Vancouver (see here) and I’m personally more interested in the events rather than the price fixe menus. I just have my biases with Dine Out Menus and find them more or less samples of what the restaurant can do on a regular night. Therefore I strongly recommend people to go back on a regular night regardless of how impressed or disappointed you were with them during Dine Out.
I am quite familiar with the regular menu at C Restaurant and have been there on several occasions. In fact I even saw some of the regular dishes offered on the Dine Out menu. However they were slightly altered, simplified and made more approachable for the price fixe. On this occasion I was invited to try their Dine Out menu, which I expected would either confirm or even better convert my preconceptions regarding Dine Out. I respect those of you who do participate in Dine Out Vancouver, and if you’re looking for options then I’m pleased to share my experiences and what is available.
C restaurant is an award winning fine dining seafood restaurant and they’re offering a 4 course menu for $38 during Dine Out Vancouver (January 20 – February 5, 2012). Most restaurants in the $38 category are only offering 3 courses, and although the price fixe is a bit more limited at C, the additional course balances it out. I must say I was incredibly impressed with my dinner, however a big part of that was due to the added supplements and wine pairings. If I just had the regular $38 Dine Out menu, I would be content, but not necessarily full or as enthusiastic to go back.
I find this experience quite common with many restaurants providing a $38 prixe fixe menu, since cost margins are harder for those specializing in fine dining. That was also one of the points I brought up regarding my thoughts on Dine Out. With the added supplements and wine pairings (which was a great investment at only $26) it would have been about $100, which is more or less standard for 4 courses + wine at C Restaurant on a regular night ordering a la carte.
I’ve become a fan of their sommelier, Sarah McCauley, who does fantastic wine pairings that really enhanced this meal. The $38 Dine Out menu is enjoyable, and a deal, but the supplements (which are more representable of the regular menu) and wine pairings is what impressed me most and what I would return for.
On the table:
- I look forward to the bread here, specifically the seaweed bread, but they serve it differently each time.
- This time it wasn’t served warm, but they still had their three daily varieties.
- The seaweed bread is standard and also my favourite. It’s always good, but that tastes different each time too.
- It’s a buttery seaweed bread that’s somewhat sweeter and more like a loaf.
- It was super tender, soft, crumbly and moist with chewy bits of seaweed throughout and white sesame seeds to give it texture and nutty flavour.
- It was almost like cornbread and it’s fine without butter, but even better with it.
- The smoked sea salt butter adds a savoury smoky flavoour which I love.
- Harissa dressing, shaved ricotta salata
- Jackson Triggs White Meritage 2009
- This was the standard first course.
- I had this before for brunch (see North Arms Farm Pickled Beet Salad) and I must say I enjoyed that version even more.
- On the regular menu it’s served with shaved ricotta silata, scotch pearls and olive oil sorbet $13
- It was a very fresh and clean salad with shaved watermelon beets, baby golden and red beets, frisee and arugula.
- Beet salads are quite common, but the quality and types of beets is what made this one unique.
- It was served with two dollops of harissa dressing which is a North African dressing made with paprika, chili, garlic, and coriander.
- There was a nice sweetness and tang from the pickled beets and the dressing added bold flavour as well as complementing sweetness.
- This Harissa dressing almost tasted like a spiced Middle Eastern molasses, but not as thick and with a nice sweet and smoky balance without being spicy.
- There were a couple large crunchy homemade croutons on the plate for texture and I would have loved more shave ricotta salata since it was very subtle.
- Winter minestrone, parmesan pistou and crisp basil
- Add burgundy truffles shaved tableside $12
- Wine pairing: SYL Ranch Nelly 2009
- This was the standard second course and although good, it wasn’t as memorable as the sauteed spot prawns (+$9 supplement).
- The tuna was seared rare, but I was looking for that charcoal grilled flavour to come through.
- It sat on a winter minestrone which was almost like a tomato orzo meets a ratatouille.
- The winter minestrone had butternut squash, carrots and tomato and it wasn’t soupy, but more of a sauce or side with the added orzo.
- The Parmesan pistou seemed more like an herb puree and I think a pesto would have worked better giving it more flavour.
- There was a slight cheesiness that showed up for short moments on random bites, but otherwise I was hoping for a bit more.
- It reminded me of the ahi tuna I had at Federico’s Supper Club – see Ahi Tuna Special.
- Kale, chilli, lime and romesco sauce +$9 supplement
- Wine pairing: Jackson Triggs White Meritage 2009
- This was a new dish for me and I really enjoyed it, but again it was a supplement.
- It’s the first BC Spot Prawns I’ve had this year and it made me miss them even more.
- I couldn’t help to think what they did with the heads, and I was hoping they would be deep fried and served alongside.
- There was a very strong acidity to this dish with vinegar braised juicy kale, fresh lime segments, and a slight kick of chili that left a bit of heat, but wasn’t spicy.
- Romesco sauce is one of my favourite sauces and it’s a Spanish sauce made from fire roasted tomatoes and ground almonds.
- The sauce almost looked like pureed uni (sea urchin) and it was very creamy, rich, smoky and nutty and played well as a sophisticated “cocktail sauce”.
- The prawns were seasoned and cooked well without being mushy and the bursts of lime segments kept the dish fresh and bright.
- The crispy parsnip chips made for texture and there were also pieces of toasted pistachio nuts which I loved for crunch and flavour.
- Lemon herb risotto, cognac cream +$12 supplement
- Add white truffles from alba shaved tableside $40
- Wine pairing: SYL Ranch Nelly 2009
- It’s ambitious offering risotto during Dine Out when it’s usually extra busy and dishes need to be sent out quickly.
- Everything about this was a time sensitive dish, but it was actually quite perfect and the risotto was cooked with care although I wouldn’t mind the Arborio even a bit firmer.
- It was rich and creamy with a hint of parsley, but I did miss a little more cheese because it was more buttery than it was cheesy. It wasn’t very cheesy at all.
- The lobster bisque was a wonderful addition except I couldn’t taste the lobster crustaceans and it just tasted a little like a tomato bisque, but not as acidic and more sweet.
- I could have used a hint of saffron in the risotto or bisque to give it another layer of flavour.
- The cheese and lobster bisque was rich in texture, and unusually subtle in flavour although not bland.
- The only real downfall was that the lobster was a bit overcooked and chewy, however there was a whole piece of it which was better than having it all cut up and mixed in the risotto.
- The lobster is pretty much the most important part to this dish, so it’s harder to forgive.
- Squash puree, almond tapenade
- Wine pairing: NK Mip Pinot Blanc 2010
- I’m a bit biased with this dish because I’ve had the original from the regular menu – see here.
- On the regular menu it’s served with roasted North Arm Farms vegetables, creamed leeks, caviar-lobster hollandaise $35
- I’ve tried the Lake Babine Salmon Tasting Menu before and it is quite delicious – see here.
- This is kind of one of my issues with Dine Out and I was hoping they would serve things from the regular menu and just leave all the ingredients as is. I know caviar-lobster hollandaise is hard to give with a $38 price fixe, but that’s kind of the catch 22.
- Had I not been given the down low for why the Lake Babine Salmon isn’t served with the skin I would have been disappointed, but since I already knew I could let it go.
- The Lake Babine Salmon skin is hard to cook and make taste good so they just leave it out.
- I do wish there was an effort to replace the texture of the crispy skin though like they did for the same dish on the regular menu.
- The salmon was cooked medium and it was quite firm, but not dry. I do like Lake Babine Salmon, but it’s definitely not an oily or buttery breed of salmon.
- The almond tapenade was potent with olive, almond and I think pumpkin seeds which I love.
- The fish needed that texture and flavour of a heavy sauce and the sweet and creamy squash puree balanced out the saltiness of the tapenade.
- I liked the brussel sprouts, but would have like a couple crispy brussel sprout leaves and/or deep fried capers for texture, especially since there was no crispy salmon skin.
- The best salmon I’ve had at C (and one of the best in general) was the Seared Hawkshaw Salmon.
- Walnut polenta, tarragon butter, confit portobello mushrooms +$12 supplement
- Add spot prawns $8 Add poached lobster $18
- Wine pairing: Petales d’Osoyoos 2008
- A steak is a steak and I normally order steaks only at steakhouses. I wouldn’t think to order steak at a seafood restaurant either, but this was a very pleasant surprise!
- Everything on this plate melted in your mouth like butter, and the only thing that didn’t really melt was ironically the butter.
- The steak was excellent and it has a great crust and dry rub and I could taste the charcoal flavours. It was perfectly cooked to medium rare and it was a great steak.
- It was topped with a terragon butter which was very herby and not salted, but it didn’t really melt into the steak so I wish it was served a bit hotter.
- Even better is if that butter was a blue cheese mousse/butter… together with the walnut polenta I might have cried happy tears.
- The walnut polenta was probably one of the best polentas I’ve had and I could taste the freshly ground walnuts. The texture of that and the cornmeal was enough for me to remember for a long time.
- The polenta was creamy, nutty, buttery and rich and the au jus just folded nicely into it. It was better than a pommes puree and I love pommes puree.
- The sauce could have been a bit thicker and more reduced, but this was a sign of the restaurant getting busy, which it was since it was Dine Out (even busier).
- The confit portobello was incredibly oily (not greasy) and meaty in flavour, but not in texture. It pretty much melted in my mouth like silk and it seemed almost sous vide in duck fat, not just sauteed in it.
- I would have loved some actual toasted walnuts as a garish, but I still found this excellent.
- The wine was an amazing wine and I could drink it with or without the steak. It was smooth and well aged and I’d be interested in just buying a bottle for the weekend.
- Vanilla chantilly, crisp caramel puffed rice
- Wine pairing: Sumac Ridge Vintage Pipe 2006
- Again, I’m a bit biased with this dessert because I’ve had the original from their regular menu – see here.
- The original is actually one of the best desserts I’ve had at C.
- The chocolate pudding tasted like a mild chocolate gingerbread pudding.
- It was creamy, rich and in between a pudding and a mousse. It was almost smoother and creamier than a pannacotta if possible.
- It had nice warm spices of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves and a hint of vanilla bean seeds.
- It was creamy and smooth and not too sweet and the crunchy caramelized puffed rice on top gave it great texture. It would have been great as pecans too.
- The vanilla chantilly didn’t have the vanilla bean seeds and I wish it did.
- This was excellent, but the original was just out of this world (as cliche as that sounds).
- Lemon Poppyseed Biscotti and candied ginger
- This was more like a soft and tender and slightly chewy lemon poppyseed shortbread than a biscotti, but it was good.
- I actually enjoyed eating it with a little candied ginger sprinkled on top.