Restaurant: La Pentola della Quercia – Dine Out Vancouver Festival
Last visited: January 7, 2014
Location: Vancouver, BC (Yaletown)
Address: 350 Davie St (Inside OPUS Hotel)
Transit: Yaletown-Roundhouse Stn Northbound
Phone: (604) 642-0557
Price range: $30-50, $50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
Food: 3.5–4 (based on Famiglia Supper Series)
- Sister to La Quercia
- Chef Lucais Syme
- Northern Italian inspired cuisine
- Sophisticated/upscale dining
- Seasonal menus
- Handmade pasta
- Local & Italian ingredients
- Cocktail/wine program
- Open 7 days a week *Closed daily 3-5pm
- Breakfast: 7am – 3pm
- Lunch: 11:30am – 3pm
- Sun-Thu: 5pm – Late
- Fri & Sat: 5pm – Later
- Brunch: Sat & Sun: 10:30am – 3pm
- Famiglia Sunday Supper Series
- Twitter: @La_Pentola
**Recommendations: Famiglia Sunday Supper Series (last Sunday of every month)
January 17th to February 2nd is Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival (DOVF). This is the city’s largest restaurant festival featuring $18, $28, and $38 price fixe menus and special culinary events. I wrote about the “Do’s and don’ts of Dine Out Vancouver“, and in a nutshell, it is a social event more so than a proper representation of a restaurant on a regular night. Just go with the right mind set and expectations.
I was invited to the media preview which gave a sneak peek of menus from participating restaurants and the theme of my group was “Date Night”. The first stop was at Film Feast: Jiro Dreams of Sushi at Market by Jean-Georges at the Shangri-la Vancouver, and the second stop was at La Pentola della Quercia. While La Pentola makes for a great date night, it is not necessarily “romantic”. It has the candlelight, but it is comfortable for couples or even bigger groups.
The last time I was at La Pentola was for their Famiglia Sunday Supper Series which happens on the last Sunday of every month. Since I’ve only tried the restaurant in event contexts, I still can’t speak of the restaurant on a regular night, although I thoroughly enjoyed the Famiglia Sunday Supper Series and recommend it.
The La Pentola Dine Out Vancouver menu was made specific for Dine Out, but there were a couple items overlapping with their regular menu. I prefer items from the regular menu because it gives me a better idea of the restaurant, but their Dine Out menu was representable in terms of portions. The Dine Out Menu was a bit safer than their regular menu and it was catered for general tastes which is understandable since Dine Out Vancouver attracts a broader demographic with varied tastes.
$28 $38 for dinner and $28 for lunch, La Pentola serves 3 courses and a bonus primi course to share for the table. The portions were generous and representable of a regular night, but a bit expected with less a la minute options. The execution and selection of ingredients chosen for the Dine Out Menu were smart, and it allows them to keep up with volume while ensuring consistency. It is good okay value since a regular night would be around $40+/person, and I recommend it to those looking for approachable food in a nice, but non-pretentious dining room in Yaletown.
I like the food at their Famiglia Sunday Supper Series better, but the clientele is different.
Note: Due to the nature of the event, I won’t comment heavily on the food.
On the table:
La Pentola – Dine Out Vancouver 2014 – $38 Menu
Carne Salada (No photo – at the time it was still being house cured.)
House Cured Salmon – The salmon was house cured and slightly salty for me even though I have a high tolerance for salt. There was also some herbed creme fraîche and sliced radish. It seemed more West Coast than Italian, but still enjoyable. I didn’t try the cured meat option, but I appreciate their efforts to cure in house.
Parmesan Souffle, Zucchini Crudo (for the table) – I thought this was a nice gesture. They serve a bonus course for the table to share and this item is on the regular menu. I would actually order this on a regular night and it was probably my favourite course on the Dine Out menu. It was a savoury light and airy soufflé with a nice crisp top. The zucchini crudo was fresh and a bit acidic to contrast the savoury and nutty parmesan soufflé. It was simple and delicious, which is representable of La Pentola.
Braised Short Ribs, Rapini, Red Potato – It is very difficult to mess up short rib. It’s affordable, forgiving and fatty, so it’s usually quite moist. In this case it was sous-vide, which ensures it will be moist and ensures consistency. A sous vide short rib is almost like roast beef or steak. I prefer short rib braised on the bone, but I don’t mind it sous vide. It had a starch and some vegetables and a decent amount of jus and the portion was generous.
Seafood and Shellfish Cioppino – This was the seafood option. Sablefish is a pricier fish, so I was impressed they used it for a seafood stew. A classic Italian cioppino can have everything from shrimp, mussels, clams, fish, dungeness crab and more, but in this case it had maybe about 8 clams and a nice piece of sablefish.
Sablefish is a “stupid fish”, and by that I mean you can’t mess it up. I love it, but it is incredibly fatty so it’s near impossible to overcook. It’s always moist, which is good because it makes for a reliable dish. I also loved that they included the skin, but I wish it was crispier. The broth was very seafood-y in flavour (in a good way) with good acid from tomatoes and white wine (which was cooked out). Sablefish needs a strong flavoured broth because it is quite bland alone. I enjoyed the broth, but I got a couple sandy clams. It happens, but it shouldn’t, and it’s just that extra attention to detail and making sure clams are cleaned well.
Mushroom Risotto – This was the vegetarian option which is on their regular menu. Normally I would go for meat or seafood, but in this case I liked the risotto course the most from the secondi options. If you’re going to go for this and you’re only concerned for value, then just come on any night to try it. It’s not very expensive and will be less than $28 even with a glass of wine or dessert. If they don’t rush it, it will be creamy with al dente rice and a good amount of mushrooms and cheese. It was a well made risotto, but if they are incredibly busy, then I might go back to the meat or seafood option.
Chocolate Mousse, Beets, Poppy Seed Puree – This is the dessert I would have picked, but it kind of sounded better on the menu. It was the most out of the ordinary option on the Dine Out Vancouver menu, but the end product was a bit all over the place although it looked nice. There was a lot going on and I wasn’t sure which direction it was going in. Beets and chocolate go very well together, both being sweet, but the poppyseed puree seemed a bit random with the chocolate, but worked with the beet. Usually poppyseed go together with lemon desserts, but I enjoyed the textures and the idea was creative.
Lemon Cream with Biscotti Wafer – This sounded a bit boring, but it was actually delicious and I would pick this for the dessert course. It was something that could be made ahead, but that didn’t bother me. The cream was set and it was a pretty big bowl of it too. It wasn’t too stiff, but it wasn’t like whipped cream either. It was stiffer than a panna cotta and I wouldn’t call it panna cotta, although I think that’s maybe what it was supposed to be. It was fresh and tart, but not sour and it was light and not too sweet. I wouldn’t order it from a regular menu, but for the Dine Out Vancouver menu it was enjoyable.