Monday, January 23, 2012
Groupon Fine Dining @ C Restaurant
My good eatin' pal Jobin contacted me because he had a $40 Groupon for a 2 person, 4 course tasting menu at C that he needed to use before it expired. So splitting it would mean 20 bucks for a 4 course meal at a fancy Vancouver restaurant. Sold! Well, I've never purchased a Groupon for this type of thing at a upscale restaurant before so I didn't really know what I was getting into. C Restaurant is a high-end establishment that charges high fine dining prices and their regular menu pricing is quite pricy. They have a great location, nestled on the waterfront seawall on the north side of false creek (right across from Granville island).
The restaurant was two levels and when I mentioned that I was there for the tasting menu, I was led to a table on the upper level. Inside, the decor was a bit kitchsy and overall, the restaurant ambience didn't really have a fine dining feel. When Jobin arrived, our server went through the menu and showed us the standard 4 courses, possible upgrades, and asked if we were ordering drinks. Our server was not the type of guy I associate with fine dining. He was definitely a bit "rough around the edges" and gruff with a bit of a blue collar feel. He even did the middle finger point (Seinfeld, anyone?) when he was explaining the menu. There was definitely a feeling that he's the guy they have to deal with the "cheap, Groupon, riff raff" (my words- not his). We definitely felt like once we told him that we weren't ordering drinks or getting the more expensive upgrade items, that we weren't important.
We were brought a complimentary bread basket with a few varieties of bread (not explained) and some herbed butter. The bread was just okay- but thank goodness we had it because we were left waiting for our 1st course for quite a long time.
1st Course: Pickled Beet Panzella Salad with harissa dressing, shaved ricotta. This was a tiny salad! The pickled beets and the harissa dressing had a bit of flavour kick- but the salad itself was pretty unremarkable.
2nd Course: Seared Albacore Tuna with winter minestrone, pistou, crisp basil. This dish was okay- it was a bit odd because the minestrone was warm and so was the plate, but the tuna was quite cold- so the temperature contrast made the dish a bit off for me. The seared edges of the tuna were really tasty and had a nice flavour.
3rd Course: Seared Lake Babine Salmon with spiced squash glazed brussel sprouts, anchovy tapenade. This was really a fantastic dish. This salmon was definitely treated with some TLC! The salmon skin was light and crispy, it was tender and flaked delicately, the colour was beautiful and bright, and the texture of the meat was supple and melted in my mouth. The anchovy tapenade on top was lovely and salty and creamy. The squash puree underneath was smooth, full of rich flavour, and went nicely with the delicious brussel sprouts.
4th Course: Spiced Chocolate Pudding with crisp caramel puffed rice, orange blossom chantilly. I dind't love this dessert because I'm not a big fan of the chocolate/orange flavour combination and I couldn't taste any hint of spice. I did like the smooth, creamy texture of the pudding and the awesome bits of crisp, caramel, puffed rice which tasted like a cross between gourmet rice krispy treats and the filling of a candy bar.
Service can be summed up in one word: SLOW. The timing was incredibly poor- we were left waiting 15-20 minutes between courses and when we were finished, dishes weren't removed promptly. Our server was friendly enough, but he wasn't attending to us consistently throughout the meal- I think we counted that 2 other servers brought us dishes and the host who greeted me and took my coat brought out the dessert. Definitely not what I'd expect at a fine dining establishment. The food was good, but the only dish that really blew me away was the salmon, everything else was a bit underwhelming considering this is a high end restaurant.