Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yew Restaurant (February 22, 2008)


Two reviewers: js and ts

Tuna Hamachi Niçoise, Oven Dried Tomato Charred Green Beans, Six-Minute Egg
Black Angus Beef Tartare, Fresh Wasabi, Kusshi Oyster Dressing
Parsnip and Coconut Soup, Dungeness Crab, Coconut Crisps
Calamari, Pan Fried, Oregano and Lime

I had the black angus beef tartare for my starter. It was flawlessly executed, but I can't say it was particularly memorable. I liked the beef, didn't particularly parse out the fresh wasabi in the mix, and didn't care much for the oyster dressing on the side.

I tried my mother's calamari, and again, it was another dish that is flawlessly executed. The squid strips were very tender and hit all of the right notes of herbiness and acidity.

I had the nicoise. I don't really have any complaints. It was good! I love tuna niçoise!

I tried the calamari as well. Again, this was good. The squid was *VERY* tender and the flavors were spot-on.

Grilled Black Angus Striploin, Seared Bone Marrow, Spinach, Horseradish Potato Puree
Roasted Chop and Crispy Belly of Berkshire Pork, Rosemary Glaze, Pumpkin and Cabbage
Black Cod, Wilted Arugula, Sungold Totatoes, Roasted Shallots, Aged Sherry Vinegar
Seared Japanese Red Snapper, Braised Chard, Sweet Potato and Smoked Clam Chowder
Caramelised Scallops, Maitake Mushrooms, Roasted Cauliflower and Chorizo Oil

I'm really curious about the beef dish because of the marrow! Maybe next time.

Oh, my father ordered the scallops dish, but I didn't get to taste it.

For my main, I was undecided for a long time and waited for the rest of the group to order theirs. I was debating between the fish entrees (there were 3: black cod, snapper, and salmon) and the meat (beef or pork). For sure, I did not want to go with the scallops. I finally went with the Berkshire pork.

The entree consisted of a chop of pork and some shredded meat which I presume is the belly part of the dish. I found the glaze to be too sweet and stick-to-the-throat. I didn't taste really get the rosemary-ness of the glaze.

I had high expectations of the pork, given that it was advertised as Berkshire pork, a heritage breed of pigs that are supposedly more flavourful than the lean cardboard pigs they've been breeding commercially.

I was disappointed to find it quite flavourless as well. It just tasted blandly, with the merest shadow of pig. The belly was much better, as it tasted more porcine, as bellies are wont to taste. I was looking for a piece of crispy skin as an accompaniment to the belly but it was nowhere to be found.

I didn't care too much for the sides they served with it. The cabbage was too wilted for my taste and sat on the pool of the sauce, which I didn't particularly care for. The pumpkin was too sweet and didn't really provide a foil for the pig.

I can see the execution of the dishes were, again, quite flawless. I do not doubt their skills and techniques. This dish, however, fell short of my expectations. Perhaps it was the ghost of the pigs past ruining the dish for me. I can remember when pigs tasted like pigs, not like pinkish-grayish cardboard.

I also tasted the pork. I agree with JS; it was just blah. That pig is tasteless! This is true of pretty much all pigs here, so it's not the restaurant's fault. The "crispy belly" was a bit weird, though. I was expecting a thicker "meat-fat-meat-fat" block/piece of meat, but it was a very thin piece of something. Yeah, even though executed well, this dish was just so-so.

I also tasted some of TS's snapper dish and that was better. At least the fish tasted like fish! I didn't care for the accompaniments as much: again, I thought they were just too sweet and did not add anything to my enjoyment of the fish.

I tasted the black cod. I'm glad I ordered the snapper, because I don't really like the taste of black cod. But, everything on that plate was done really nicely.

I was pretty satisfied with my snapper. The fish was nice. I liked the chard and the sweet potato puree. The clam chowder "sauce" was nice and flavorful as well. The clams were nice and tender. All in all, very nice dish! My only complaint was that it had 2 smallish pieces of fish (whereas the black cod dish -- and the pork dish, for that matter -- was considerably HUGER).

Whipped Morello Cherry Cheesecake, Cherry Crumble, Jubilee Glaze
Passion Fruit Custard, Single Barrel Rum Baba, Seven Exotic Fruits Sorbet
Raspberry and Pomegranate Soup, Orange Blossom, White Chocolate Parfait, Raspberry Sorbet
Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie, Banana Foster, Banana Ice Cream
Warm Doughnuts, Granny Smith Apple Sauce, Hot Apple Cider, Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream

I told JS she should get the raspberry & pomegranate soup! Coz! It's something different! But she didn't....

I was also considering the passionfruit custard, seeing as I like that kind of texture (custard, panna cotta, creme brulee, pot de creme).

But, decided on the doghnuts. They were pretty good, but nothing spectacular. I do like it that the doughnut was actually a doughnut-battered piece of apple!

But now I'm thinking if I should've gotten the soup or the custard instead.

The dessert I had was the cherry cheesecake. It was a sort of deconstructed cheesecake, as the "meat" of the cheesecake was shaped like a big quenelle, at the bottom of which sat the crumbs. I liked the cheesecake and I liked the cherries, but it was too big of a portion of cheesecake and half of it went uneaten.

Overall, the food was flawless, in terms of skill, technique, and execution. But I did find it a tad boring and lacking in something. Soul? To me, it felt like a "standard" menu and perhaps that is the intent of the restaurant. After all, it is a restaurant inside of a hotel and most hotel restaurants are not really expected to be more than standard. The design of the dining room was beautiful, but again, personally, I felt it a little hollow. It just felt like all style to me. It's "hip" and "trendy."

From the writeups in newspapers, I heard that the background of the executive chef is Latino. So perhaps I had a slightly different set of expectations even before setting foot in the restaurant. I had hoped that he would create dishes that are more "exciting" (bear in mind this is a subjective word) and more "authentic" -- that is, something that would connect to me heart-to-heart or soul-to-soul.

Well, I was more satisfied with this meal than JS. Perhaps because I really liked both my appy and main dishes. The execution of the dishes was flawless. Rating, around 8/10, I would think.

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