Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Goldfish Seafood & Chops: Taste Club

This July, Yaletown's Goldfish Pacific Kitchen emerged with a new persona, "Goldfish Seafood and Chops." Now a sister restaurant to Joe Fortes, the new menu is meant to rebrand the Yaletown restaurant and focus on fresh and authentic seafood from Northwest region. They've also revamped the wine list and added new vegetarian and meat menu options. It's all about West Coast cooking and Pacific Rim flavours. I recently entered and won a contest for a "Taste Club" event featuring some of GFSC's new menu options with wine pairings. I brought along my pal Jayme as my plus one since it was her birthday the next day- and she's pretty game for foodie adventures with me.
I'll start by saying that my last meal at Goldfish was about two years ago for a friend's birthday and I had one of their three course meals, loved it, and was really impressed by the great service. I was curious and a little worried about possibly changes to an already pretty awesome restaurant.

When I showed up for my Tuesday night dinner experience, not a whole lot had changed. The decor and atmosphere felt the same as I had remembered. Clean modern decor, cool accents and light fixures, high ceilings, with a cozy patio out back and a private dining room (both were booked with functions.) I really like this space, it feels upscale and trendy but really welcoming and not intimidatingly fancy. I found they did a great job with keeping the noise level and lighting at a nice mellow level throughout the meal (even though it was quite busy).

We were seated right away with some other winners and their "plus ones." As we mingled and waited for everyone to arrive, they brought out some of their house made Rosemary Focaccia Bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This was a good start- fresh, slightly warm, with large chunks of sea salt. There was an early hiccup in service with our server who quitely, and immediately took away Jayme's wine glass when we were seated. Jayme is on the shorter side of 5 feet and people often think she's younger than she is. We were both a little put off by this assumption and action, but the next time our server came by Jayme explained that not only was she of drinking age but that she was actually about to celebrate a birthday that would put her pretty close to 30. Our server was extremely embarrassed and apologized profusely and brought her a wine glass immediately, joking that he would make it up to her with generous pours all evening.

When everyone finally arrived, we were brought an amuse bouche of seasoned baby shrimp and chilled asparagus soup. This was really good and I could've eaten a lot more, especially since I am a clutz and spilled my soup after one sip. I managed to keep the mess pretty contained and fortunately didn't spray any other dinner guests with the bright green asparagus soup.

The soup was creamy, but light and with a nice briny, salty kick of flavour. It was definitely a nice way to wake up the palette and get ready for the feast.

For the first course, our server brought out a Two Tier Seafood Tower (Menu Price is $58.00/ 1 tier and $105.00/ 2 tiers) for the table to share. This tower definitely had some "wow" factor in its presentation. It was packed with Scallop Sashimi, Dungeness Crab Legs, Poached Jumbo Prawns, Vodka Cured Salmon Pastrami, Steamed Mussels, Clams, Local Oysters with horseradish/cocktail sauce and a citrus garlic sauce, and an Atlantic 1/2 lobster. Our server was great and explained the tower and described all of the elements, while also explaining their commitment to the Oceanwise program and using sustainable and local (as much as possible) seafood.

 I tried everything on this tower and everything tasted very high quality. My favourites were the slightly spicy asian flavours in the scallop sashimi, the plump, juicy, jumbo prawns, the salty, savoury Salmon pastrami, and the fresh salty oysters.

I was so proud- the birthday girl was brave and tried her first oyster.....and it may be her last oyster, but at least she tried. This first course was paired with a Tiera Woods Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2008. I really loved this wine and thought it was a great compliment to the fresh, light, salty seafood. It was crisp, dry, not to sweet and refreshing.

The second course was Braised Shortribs with cashew brittle, radish, scallions, and mash potatoes (Menu Price is 24.95). This dish was deep, rich, soulful, comfort food. The meat was cooked to tender perfection and shredded at a light touch and fell off the bones in a savoury, light gravy sauce. The mash potatoes were creamy awesomeness, fluffy without any kind of lumpy-ness and a slight sour cream/cream fraiche taste. The cashew brittle added a nice hint of cruchy texture and a sweet/salty pop. The braised swiss chard was fantastic too and my only feedback would've been to have more green on the plate to balance out the meat and potato richness. The wine pairing for this course was a glass of Zefine Serience 2004. This red was too heavy, smoky, rich, and boozy-tasting for such a heavy dish. It made the second course too overwhelming for me and neither Jayme or I could actually finish our glasses.

Before the dessert course, we were served a palate cleanser: a tiny scoop of pink grapefruit sorbet. This was absolutely delicious, tart, sour, and refreshing. I would love to eat a large bowl of this and keep some in my freezer at all times. The flavour was so bright and airy and light.

Dessert was a Yuzu Lemon Tart with roasted marshmallow, blueberry compote, and little pavlova sticks (Menu Price $7.95).  Although Jayme and I were both stuffed at this point, this dessert was a must eat. This dessert is worth returning for. The flavours in the lemon tart filling had a powerful tart freshness that tasted like a blend of lemon, lime, grapefruit, with a hint of mandarin orange. The pastry was flaky and buttery, the blueberry compote added another sweet/sour flavour. A real stand-out on this plate was the homemade marshmallow drizzle and its warm slightly smoky vanilla flavour. Stellar! This was paired with a glass of Nivole Moscato D'Asti 2009 a white, sparkling white dessert wine. This was nice and light and I liked the bubbles although it was too sweet for me to finish the glass with dessert.

This was an awesome experience. Jayme and I both ate way too much food and felt sick because everything was so crazy delicious. Everything we ate was absolutely delicious and you can tell that a lot of effort goes into the food here...from planning the menu, sourcing the ingredients, creating sauces, to execution in the kitchen and the way the food is presented on the plate. Everything tasted extremely fresh and made in-house. The service team at Goldfish are really A+. They really know how to treat guests and service is attentive, personable, gracious, knowledgable, and efficient from the minute you walk in until you walk out. Everyone from the hostesses, servers, bussers, and management are really on top of things and seem to enjoy what they are doing and believe in their brand and product.

Goldfish Pacific Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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