Three reviewers: ts, js and allu
Apparently it was a tough decision, whether to dine at La Buca or Parkside.
JS made the reservation (and decision) for us. The final location was kept a secret...at least I wasn't told where we were going.
Had I known ahead of time, and had this not been my last night in Vancouver, I think I would have dressed up a bit for this dinner. But under the circumstances, I went in my jeans and my "lulu girl" shirt (haha, at least I wasn't in my home clothes...)
We went to Parkside.
I actually wanted to go to La Buca, but I thought it would be tougher to get a reservation at La Buca. We've been turned away a couple of times already at La Buca and I thought that trying to get a reservation just two days in advance of the date was pushing it.
La Buca has the kind of food that I want to eat everyday. As mentioned before. LOL
Well, Parkside was fitting if you wanted something more "special" for your last night, whereas La Buca would've been fitting if you wanted a laid-back approach. I think you melded the 2 when you wore your lulu girl shirt to parkside. Haha.
And apparently, *some* of us (no names mentioned) had gone online and studied the menu ahead of time! But the chefs at Parkside most definitely would not let us cheat this easily...the menu we were presented with was a little different from the one online =)
I didn't know where we were going until about 1 hr before when JS suddenly went:
"Psst... what items do you think you're ordering?" [while perusing the Parkside menu online]
Went for the four course menu:
Well-seasoned steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes
Grilled prawns with potato (?), crisp bacon (?), micro greens, sherry dressing
Crisp skin Cornish hen, herb spaetzle and spring vegetables, sauce
Colbert Parkside Black Forest torte
I had the 4-course meal, starting with a sweet onion soup with goatcheese crostini, papardelle (sp?) with lamb ragu, the Copper Riversockeye, and a fromage frais brown sugar cheesecake-type concoction with strawberries and raspberries.
Overall, I would say I was satisfied with what I ordered, but not totally enamoured.
1. FIRST COURSE
Well-seasoned steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes
How anyone could resist steak tartare is beyond me. I had to have this course. Loved the pommes gaufrettes, perfectly fried slices of potato chips. If I were Japanese, I might be tempted to say "it's a bit oily"...but I'm not Japanese, and how can you expect there to be no oil if these are fried?!? The steak tartare itself..well, nothing to complain about here. But maybe if there were more capers in there..haha..I love capers.
I had this as well. Nothing to complain about. In my head I was comparing it to the tartare w a kick(!) at Bistrot. This also came with some microgreens that were dressed and seasoned really nicely.
Sweet onion soup -- good.
Soup was spot-on. Perfectly seasoned and the onions were sweet.
2. SECOND COURSE
Grilled prawns with potato, crisp bacon, micro greens, sherry dressing
Actually, this is not exactly what i had. They've updated their menu on the website and I can't see our menu from the night of the 13th. So I'm just piecing things together with items on the current menu that resembles what I had on the 13th.Here's what I remember: there was definitely prawns, potatoes, micro greens, sherry dressing, and a processed meat of some sort...
The sherry dressing complemented the prawns well..though I found that some parts of the prawns were over-grilled (is there such a word?). Could have been better without the occasional "burnt taste".
That being said, I still finished the whole plate..haha...
I forget how it was called, exactly. Anyway, there was a mix of mushrooms: chanterelles, morels, and porcinis, I think. I don't like porcinis. The risotto was nicely done, although it was a bit too "meaty" for me at the time. I guess it's permanent damage, this aversion of mine to "brown" taste.
I think I made a mistake with the lamb ragu.
See, if there's an option for fresh pasta on the menu, I would go for the fresh pasta --because, really, nothing beats fresh pasta. So it was the papardelle for me.
The pasta was excellent, but the first bite of the lamb ragu didn't do it for me. I thought I was tasting Irish stew out of a can. The menu said it had basil and chilis, but I really didn't taste anyof the basil and the chilis. On the subsequent bites, the lamb ragu did taste a little bit better, but it would have been a lot better ifthey did what was advertised on the menu and hit the lamb with at least some basil and some chilis.
3. THIRD COURSE
Crisp skin Cornish hen, herb spaetzle and spring vegetables, sauce Colbert
The spaetzle was surprisingly good! I still don't really know what spaetzles are..but it was good. The spring vegetables included white asparagus, yellow string beans, peas, and pea shoots. The string beans were my favorite. I never really got why white asparagus was such a delicacy...they're not very good, in general...
The crisp skin cornish hen..well....it was good...but.....
Here's what happened, we went to Fisherman's the night before and ordered the Chinese version of the crisp skin chicken. My goodness, this was really "chicken yummy!"....
So when I ordered the cornish hen, I still had that Fisherman chicken in mind..the really really amazing crisp skin, and the juicy yet tender meat underneath....
The Cornish hen, I'm sad to say, came nowhere near as good as the Fisherman chicken...Maybe it's unfair to compare them..but it's what I was looking for and I didn't get it here. The skin of the cornish hen was simply not crispy enough! Maybe it was the sauce Colbert that ruined the crispy-ness....And when I cut into the hen, I was hoping that the skin would stay somewhat attached to the meat so that with each bite, I can experience and taste the crisp skin with the tender white meat...but this didn't happen. The skin came off with every slice. The meat of the hen was okay, but not SPECTACULAR, and without the crisp skin...well....I was disappointed. I wanted Fisherman...
Well, that Fisherman's Terrace crispy skin chicken really qualifies as "CHICKEN YUMMY, CHICKEN YUMMY!"
With Alice's cornish game hen, it's a bit of a risk. It's so hard to cook small poultry; it's so easy toovercook them to tough-and-dry.
A-ya! I don't remember what I had for my main dish!! It was halibut, but I have no idea what its accompaniments were... =(
Had a little help from jowbel re the accompaniments!
There was fennel and pepperonata... oh, and a little cake of some kind. Brandade cake!
The pepperonata was really good. It was surprising that I enjoyed it because there was a time when I was sick of roasted peppers. Basically the accompaniments were good on their own, and also in any combination with each other... and with the fish. Just a little complaint is that the fennel salad was a little too olive-y for me... I don't really *like* olives that much; i like/dislike them on a case by case basis.
I guess that's it. I forget the sauce(s) that came with the dish.
For the Copper River sockeye, I thought the dish was good.
The brown butter noisette, with the capers and croutons was delicious. The salmon itself was delicious as well.
My only gripe about the salmonwas how crispy the crust was -- it was TOO CRISPY.
See, sockeye is generally not a fatty type of salmon and fillets of salmon are usually not thin. So I think it was over-seared for a second longer than it should have been. Salmon was a tad dry. If they perhaps chose to go with a steak instead of a fillet, then it would have been perfect.
(Perhaps I'm also reliving my experience of grilling a fillet of Copper River sockeye, in which I also ran into the same tough-and-dry problem. If it were just me eating, I would have left it a little bit raw in the middle, but I wasn't the only one eating it.)
4. FOURTH COURSE
Parkside Black Forest torte
When JS asked me if I tasted the black forest-ness...I was a bit confused. I must confess that all the black forest cakes that i've tasted before were from Chinese bakeries...so I figured they are all "asia-fied" in one way or another. Sometimes these black forest cakes would have cherries in them, and sometimes not. The only "constant" was the chocolate =)
So I don't think I'm really qualified to answer the question "is this torte black forest-y?", cuz, what do I know about black forest cakes?
So "black forest"-ness aside, this torte was pretty good. I like chocolate, I like cherries, what can possibly go wrong?
Well, maybe more cherries would have been nice. And I did find a little piece of what appeared to be eggshell in my torte (is that bad?)....
But, once again, I finished my torte.
Poached apricots with warm brown butter almond cake and cinnamon ice cream
The apricots themselves just tasted like apricots, no biggie. The cinnamon ice cream was pretty good.
BUT! BUT! The cake! The cake!!! That was super good!! It was served warm: nice!
So I think the best part of my meal was the cake!! So rare, that I would think that dessert was the best, and that somebody can actually make good dessert.
I was taking a risk ordering the ALMOND cake, because i HATE that almond essence taste. I like actual almonds. In this case, they used ground almonds in the cake (thank goodness). None of that pesky essence!! But yeah, that cake is just super good. I could've dispensed with the apricots and ice cream. Teehee.
Fromage frais brown sugar cheesecake-type concoction with strawberries and raspberries
Dessert was okay, although I can't help comparing it to Thomas Haas' stilton cheesecake which was absolutely delicious. They should have brought back the lemon tart 'cause that was SO YUMMY.[allu]
Items that I tried and loved:
TS's order of risotto and almond cake with cinnamon ice cream;
JS's order of spring salmon
The almond cake with cinnamon ice cream was heavenly....and i didn't even get to try the apricots!
I kind of wish I had ordered the beef tenderloin for my main....
Still, I enjoyed this meal, and wish I can eat here again =)
And am very curious about La Buca.
So, I guess not a glowingly glowing review, but still a good one.
Haha, CSC said she was glad the reviews were not too glowing, because they made her less likely to want to eat there. She said she wants it when the chef (Andrey Durbach) is the one cooking.
So I said, just wait until August!!! Pied-a-Terre!! oooooh.