Updated: 22nd Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.
For those of you foodies living in the Metro Vancouver area knows that January is the month of the Dine Out Vancouver (DOV). It is the two week period at this time of the year where almost 200 restaurants offers 3-course dinners for a fix price. For the past few years, the prices were $15, $25 and $35 depending on the restaurant. This year there was an across the board increase to $18, $28, $38.
When the reservations opened in the first week of January, the hottest restaurants gets booked up pretty fast. As in previous year, we decided to book four seatings.
We went to the Raincity Grill for the first event. Raincity is Grill located at the western end of Denman in downtown Vancouver. It faces the English Bay and should have a great view but not at this time of the year … and especially for this evening when it was all foggy.
Raincity is known as the home of the 1st 100 Mile Menu. The 100 Mile tingy was kind of a rage over last year but somehow I felt that all the great idea had died down. They still have the 100 Mile Tasting menu ($70).
Raincity offers the $38 3-course DOV menu. However, when we were presented the menu, we also saw that they also have an option for a 4-course dinner for $45. I guess they, like many other DOV participating restaurants, are trying to upsell the advertised menu.
We got seated by the window which was kind of good except that it faces the street. We would had loved having had the ones that are located on the raised section of the restaurant facing the English Bay (even though it was too foggy and dark to see anything!). Somehow I felt that they seat all the DOV customers at the lower section. Moreover our table was so tiny it could comfortably seat only one person if you ask me.
Anyway, we started with drinks. Raincity had a very extensive wine list which came in a 33 page menu. Their wines are all from the West Coast (from BC to California) and they do not carry wines outside this region … i.e. none from France, Italy.
I got the Raspberry Martini which is Absolut Raspberry Vodka with Elephant Island Framboise ($10) while Suanne opted for Pineapple Juice ($3).
They brought the bread even before we ordered our meal. We were disappointed with the bread actually. It is sourdough but it is so small, hard and cold. We had come to expect warm bread. They came by asking if we wanted more. We declined.
We opted to order a 3-course option and another 4-course dinner. I’ll go over the 3-course dinner first …
For the 3-course dinner, we selected the Stuffed Leg of Fraser Valley Chicken as the starter. We were told that the chicken is basically chicken leg stuffed with chicken breast. I was not sure if I heard right because why would anyone do that … maybe it’s a combination of dark and white meat?
Along with it is the celery root, pearl onion, roast onion, bacon and red wine puree at the side. It was actually pretty good as each item by itself has it’s uniqueness.
For the $38 main, we had the Pemberton Meadows Braised Beef. It looked pretty but nope, we did not quite like this. The braised beef is rolled up in a cabbage roll much like a … well … cabbage roll. The beef is like shredded beef and despite it being shredded it was quite tough. The moment you sink the knife into the braised beef roll the whole thing falls apart … and no longer look pretty!
But they did the scalloped potato very well though. It was absolutely delightful. The insides were perfectly soft while the sides were nice and crisp. The caramelized onion felt out of place with this dish for us … you know, doesn’t feel right eating this by itself neither is it with the braised beef nor the scallop. The grilled shallot too was kind of strange for us (we always had shallots fried!).
For the $38 dessert, we opted for the Agassiz Hazelnut and Chocolate Delice. Came in two parts. The ice cream is placed on top of salted butter caramel which is a fancy name but it tasted more like caramel caramel to us. It is pretty but really it is just vanilla ice cream with caramel.
The second part of the dessert, I guess, is what they call the Delice. It’s perhaps a fancy name for bitter chocolate fudge. Nice but not great.
The $45 four-course option are, as expected, a bit more better. There are no choices here unlike the official $38 menu where you get a choice of three for each of the courses.
The first course was the Seared Baynes Sound Scallop. This was good … we like especially the burnt onion puree (under the scallop) which was sweet and crisp.
The second course was exceptional and the best dish we had the entire night. This is called the Crispy Skin Lingcod. What makes this stands apart is the white wine broth which is amazing with each of the items here … the mashed but chunky potato, the lone mussel and especially the moist lingcod. The skin was not crispy as advertised but it was OK as it was.
The third course is the Roasted Beef Strip Loin. I find this nothing to shout about. The beef was not really great but OK. The other items here are potato cake, glazed onions, mushroom ragout, and spinach with a smear of red wine reduction.
The $45 four-course dinner ended up with something called Cheese Cake but looked nothing that resembles a cheesecake that type you and I are familiar with. It came presented like the anatomy of a certain human gender … agreed? The way Suanne describes this is that this is an unbaked cheesecake … just the ingredients all put together.
Well, in a normal cheesecake, you would have graham biscuit as the base while here they have graham crumbs by the side. It is not even a cake in any sense of the word … it is just (goats) cheese cream over some ice cream and caramel and apricot puree. Was it good? It was unique and fun but good, no.
The whole night we were wondering what the saucer of salt like thingy was by the side of the candle. We see that on every table. We soon figured out that it indeed was salt because they came to take it away just before they served the dessert. For a moment, I thought it had a function for the candle or something.
Suanne said that it is sea salt and that a packet of this costs something like ten bucks. I learned something new today … duh!
The service was good as expected from a place like Raincity. Although very polite, I detected it was somewhat rushed and mechanical in the way they explained the dishes. They managed to time both 3-course and 4-course really well that we hardly noticed that break.
The bill came up to $120. We paid by the one Visa card we never ever used other than for DOV events. We actually got that Visa card the first time we attended DOVs. This is because if you pay by Visa, you get a chance to win the Grand Prize of 52 dinner gift certs provided by variou participating restaurants with a value of $3,900 (an average of $75). Imagine that … dining out at these places every week for one year!
You know, on the way home, Suanne and I were really re-thinking the entire DOV thingy. If you think about it, for $120 you could get much more better food in a nice Chinese restaurant, for instance, for the entire family of four. I am beginning to agree with many food bloggers who are of the same opinion too. Moreover, you are not really saving much (if at all) going to these dinners … and you had to deal with rushed seatings, limited menu choices, and all.