Monday, 27 January 2014

Edible Canada at the Market: Dine Out Vancouver 2014

It's time for Dine Out Vancouver again! Undoubtedly the largest city-wide food event every year. Well over 200 restaurants are participating, making 2014 the biggest Dine Out Vancouver so far. On the opening day of reservations, I went through each and every menu to see which one appealed to me the most. The variety Edible Canada offered seemed most welcoming for a large group with differing taste buds. I quickly made reservations through OpenTable for a Saturday night, as weekends fill up very quickly. As a side note, I really wanted to go to Bistro 101 as their menu was awesome and super affordable, but it was booked solid within the morning hours of opening day. Crazy huh?

Dine Out Vancouver 2014 at Edible Canada Bistro
Located smack dab in the centre of Granville Island, Edible Canada caters to many tourist. Usually that is a negative connotation but Vancouverites have left relatively positive reviews for the little restaurant. There is very limited free parking around the island, so expect to pay for parking, at least up until 7pm. Since our reservation was for 6:15pm, we only had to pay one hour of parking ($3.50 per hour). 

Seating inside Edible Canada Bistro
I was surprised at how small Edible Canada actually is. For some reason,  I envisioned it to be much larger. The photo above captures the entire seating area, with a few tables hiding behind the people in the forefront.

Part of the kitchen is open

There are two entrances to the restaurant; one that enters the little store in the back and another by the open kitchen. Servers will greet guests at both ends. I came a few minutes earlier than my reservation, but were seated amply at 6:15. 

Dine Out menu

Although I knew I would be ordering off the Dine Out menu, it's nice to know that their regular a-la-carte menu is also an option. Edible Canada prides itself in using seasonal and local ingredients and I think their menu certainly utilizes winter produce well!

An important note: the Fried BC Mountain Scallops are not actually scallops. 'Mountain Scallops' is euphony for sheep testicles. The waitress serving my parent's table explained that in detail while our waiter simply said "it's lamb." Not knowing exactly what it was, my friend bravely tried it. There was one small piece, the size of a slice of tomato. He commented it just tasted like chicken...

Crispy Humboldt Squid
Since 'scallops' were no longer an option for me, I chose to have the Crispy Humboldt Squid for my appetizer, and I am so glad I did. While the calamari I often have at My Greek Taverna is not half bad, it's been a while since I've had calamari this good. As a reference point, the best calamari I've ever had was at Market by Jean Georges at the Shangri-la Hotel; Edible Canada's is extremely similar. Super, super, super tender and bouncey, my jaw muscles didn't have an intense work out to bite through these. The batter was light and crispy, thinly coating each 'finger' of squid. Each piece was about a centimetre in width so each bite was meaty. It was divine! The squid ink aioli was yes, intriguing, but no, not flavourful. Squid ink doesn't have a dominant flavour, it's more for the colour contrast. The shaved fennel salad on the side was delicious! It was my first time trying fennel, and I've heard non-stop glorification for this little used plant. True to descriptions, fennel has a mild licorice flavour. Not overpowering, but a very unique taste. Thin slices of fennel were accompanied with some thinly sliced radish and, I believe, apple for sweetness. 

Celeriac & Apple Soup
Since my brother isn't a seafood eater (nor a lamb testicle eater), he ordered the Celeriac and Apple Soup. The portion is on the smaller side, but that's acceptable since it's only an appetizer. I had a little spoonful and the soup was very creamy and kind of sweet. There are little chunks of apple that add a little crunch.

Seared Lois Lake Steelhead
Despite having salmon pretty often (love living in Vancouver!), this Seared Lois Lake Steelhead dish was impressive. Lighting tapping the skin with my fork, I knew the skin was super crispy. Quoting my brother, who is a picky seafood eater and also had the same dish, it was a "fish I know I will enjoy." The crispy skin had to be the highlight of the fish. Unlike my last year's Dine Out experience at The Boathouse, the fish was just cooked, keeping the middle moist and smooth. (Regarding The Boathouse: A seafood restaurant overcooking fish is a failure. And halibut too!) My meal at Edible Canada opened up opportunities to try many new foods, and sunchokes are next! Also known as a Jerusalem Artichoke, these ginger-looking root vegetables have a texture between an artichoke and a potato. They were cooked until super soft but with a crispy side and I thought they were delicious! If only they were more readily available at the supermarket. I haven't had the best experiences with cooked kale at home; mine were tough and tasteless so I've been sticking to kale chips. But the kale here changed my mind. It was not completely limp and wilted, but it was soft enough to chew without too much effort and seasoned just right. The bits of boar bacon really added a punch of smoky flavour. I'm no advocate for bacon (please don't hate me) and usually avoid it. But the little slivers sprinkled over the kale just took the dish to a whole new level. It was what bacon should always taste like.

Left: Bacon Ice Cream Sundae, Right: Chili Dark Chocolate Pudding
I didn't notice all the supplementary costs until after I made the reservation. While I understand that some ingredients are costly, it kind of defeats the purpose of a prix fix menu. That leaves diners with three options per course instead of the seemingly five options. This Bacon Ice Cream Sundae was an additional $2 but the description really lured me in. Brownie? Ginger? Ice cream? You see, I love the idea of a hot and cold dessert. To my dismay, this was nothing like I envisioned. The presentation was cute, but the quality did not match the other two dishes I had that night. The brownie bits where packed full of ginger flavour which I loved, but it was hard, dry, and much too chewy. And although I'm not a fan of bacon, there was one, exactly one, no more than one tiiiiiiiny piece of bacon in the whole dessert. That is not an exaggeration. My brother kept eating my dessert hoping to come across a piece of bacon. I ended up finding that one piece. It had no distinct smokiness like the boar bacon, in fact I think it didn't match the dessert whatsoever. There was also a few whole pieces of walnut, but it didn't even taste toasted so it was rather out of place as well. Overall a very disappointing dessert.

In contrast, the Chili Dark Chocolate Pudding was heavenly. Thick, luscious, smooth, and rich, this pudding ranks as one of the best chocolate puddings I've ever had. My brother is learning well from watching Food Network; the chocolate pudding had a "peppermint feel, but backwards." Meaning that he anticipated a cooling effect but felt a bit of heat instead at the back of the throat. It's quite an interesting experience! The chili wasn't super strong, but it gave a little kick as it moved down the esophagus. I wish I had gotten a few more spoonfuls of the dessert! 

The portions were, to be tactful, dainty. I felt the portions were just right as I didn't leave feeling like I had consumed enough to last me for a week. But those with a bigger appetite may not feel satisfied. My friend's grandparents ordered the Kurobuta Pork Belly and it was teensy tiny. Three pieces would've been needed to fill them up reasonably. The most filling entree would be the Lamb &  Barley Stew; my mom had that and she said the flavours were right on and the portion was generous. My best friend splurged and paid an extra $20 for her Filet Mignon. That was a full dish with a 6 ounce serving of steak, a large square of some vegetable gratin, and a handful of roasted vegetables. I mean for that much more money, it better have been filling! 

The service differed depending on the server. The waitress serving my parents table appeared much more enthusiastic and willing to serve. My waiter, however, left something to be desired. Our water was filled very regularly, so I can't say we got zero service. But it was all done without a word or smile. My friend said that he felt the waiter was actually picking on us due to our young(er) age. We just didn't get a very good vibe from our waiter. What angered my parent's table the most was how unprofessionally another waiter told them to leave. He came by once and said "we need this table shortly" and then came back again and sternly said "we need this table VERY shortly." My mom's friend wasn't even finished her coffee and we had been in the restaurant for less than one and a half hours. This left a bitter aftertaste to their experience at Edible Canada.

I recommend sticking to the dishes without additional costs as they taste even better than the ones that cost more. (Such as the pork belly and the sundae). Overall the quality of the food is good, nothing was over cooked and the flavours were balanced. On a scale of ten, I would give this meal a seven.

Edible Canada at the Market on Urbanspoon

Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡

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