Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cork and Fin for a Belated Birthday Celebration Dinner

Some fabulous girlfriends treated me to a belated food-centric birthday celebration. They booked the night, made resos but wouldn't tell me where we were going. As our car headed into Gastown, my mind was rolling through list of places that I haven't tried but wanted to, trying to figure out where they were taking me. To my surprise and delight, they dropped me in front of Cork and Fin.

Cork and Fin is located right beside Gastown's Blood Alley, across the street from the Irish Heather on Carrall Street. It's located in the historic Alhambra Hotel which is one of the oldest standing buildings in the city (built in 1886). Inside, brick walls are contrasted by a soft white banister and the white linens and chairs evoke a French bistro; it's warm, inviting and a room you could easily settle into and spend a relaxing evening. I loved their menus, every diner is seated with a manila folder. We were greeted warmly at the door by the manager, Rodney, who seated us near the front of the restaurant at a cozy table by the window. 

We ordered drinks, asked plenty of menu questions and asked for dish recommendations. Two of us got the 3 course menu for $32 and the other two ordered the 4 course (an extra pasta course) for $45 (and generously offered to share their pasta!)

I was impressed by the basket of warm bread that was brought to our table. Warm, great chew, nice flavour and a soft, whipped butter. 

For my first course, I ordered the 'Bras' salad; heirloom carrot, cucumber, zucchini, lemon vinaigrette, aiolim pepper puree. It was light, fresh, flavourful, and bright. Good but not an OMG dish.
The other first courses at the table were 


Summer Salad; Vine ripened tomatoes, House Ricotta, Barnston Lettuce, Basil Vinaigrette.

For my second course, I ordered the Amberjack Sashimi; Edamame Puree, Horseradish Ponzu, Apple, Fennel, Crispy Shallots. This was DE-licious. So fresh with a nice balance of salty and sweet flavour and a great contrast between the buttery, thick cut fish and the thinly sliced apple/fennel and crispy shallots. Loved the crispy shallots.

Other second course dishes at the table were

Steak Tartare; Quail Yolk, Spring Onion, Sriracha, Creme Fraiche, Chips. Everyone at this table loved this dish. It was so rich, with great texture in the finely chopped steak and creamy egg yolk, and bursting with flavour.

Scallop Crudo; Plum, Salt Cured Foie Gras, and Frisee. This dish got more of a meh reaction from my friend who ordered this. 

Next up were the pasta course dishes which were both really really good. 

Cavatelli; Wild Mushrooms, Bacon, Brandy. This dish was a crowd pleaser. Deep, warm, earthy, rich....this was the type of comfort dish that makes you want to lick the plate....

Spaghetti; Dungeness Crab, Broccolini, Chili, Bread Crumbs. While this dish didn't get the oooo, aaaa, response from all of us, I really loved this dish and thought the crab meat itself was stand out awesome.

Our last courses dishes arrived. I ordered the Grilled Rockfish; Taro Root, Pepper Puree, Anchovy Butter, and Greens. This could be a "food memory" dish that sticks with me. I loved it and I've been craving anchovies ever since. It was such a great plate with elements that all worked well together and created a nice strong flavour symphony in my mouth. The crispy taro root added an awesome textural element. Highly recommend this dish!

Other mains on the table were
Roasted Ling Cod; Andouille Sausage, Broccoli, Sicilian Pesto

Braised Lamb; Summer Vegetables, Gnocchi, Gremolata.

After we polished off our last plates and I was feeling ever so lucky and every so spoiled to be treated to such a wonderful night of wine and delicious food, the manager brought out a beautiful birthday cake. The Leggy Redhead had ordered a London Fog Cake from Cadeaux Bakery

I've visited Cadeaux before and have been wow-ed by what I tried (delicious delicious bacon sticky bun!!!) so even though I was stuffed, I couldn't wait to dig in. The London Fog Cake is a vanilla cake with Earl Grey infused syrup, Earl Grey milk chocolate ganache, white chocolate mousse, and topped with chantilly cream. This cake ROCKS. It somehow is both dense and light and fluffy at the same time. Its not too sweet. It smells amazing. Nothing taste artificial, you can taste the quality ingredients.

This was an awesome night and fantastic dining experience. Cork and Fin was fancy, but not too fancy or at all pretentious. Service was attentive, helpful, friendly throughout the evening. Special shout out to the music that night which was a retro playlist featuring Billy Ocean and Phil Collins. So good! I also found out that the manager Rodney had actually made a special trip to Cadeaux to pick up the London Fog cake. Talk about service!!!!!

Pretty much a perfect evening. I'm so lucky to be spoiled with such a DELICIOUS evening.

Cork & Fin on Urbanspoon

Cadeaux Bakery on Urbanspoon

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