Weekend is getting more precious to me these days. Work had been building up with just a few months away from delivery. Lots of loose end to tie up and the team is beginning to feel the pressure. So work had been rather intense and I really look towards the weekends more than ever.
To unwind, Suanne and I decided to go downtown for dinner on Friday. I enjoy those time outs with Suanne — just she and I — and put work behind in the right way. We decided to check out Il Nido because we just got an email saying that they had just launched a new spring menu.
Il Nido is an Italian restaurant located in a quiet corner of Robson and Thurlow. The location is just perfect for Suanne and I as we wanted to have a quiet dinner away from the bustle of Robson and yet after dinner, we could go walk along Robson to soak in the excitement the street has to offer.
It seems like Il Nido is one of the oldest restaurants on Robson having been around for more than 20 years. It has the charm to this place compared to the many newer establishments around the Robson area.
Not knowing how busy Il Nido is, we had reservations made. When we arrived, they did not seem to have our reservation but I guess it was really not required at all. We were the only people there when they opened for dinner at 5:30PM.
Il Nido has a cozy atmosphere with simple decors. I do noticed that on every table is a bottle of wine. How does that work … does anyone know? Suanne and I had not had an entire bottle of wine for dinner before. Does a table of two normally finish off an entire bottle? What happens if it is half-finished?
We ordered Bellini for drinks instead since Bellini is a very Italian cocktail. Most of their cocktails is about $6 but the Bellini is $12. When I ordered this, they told me they serve the “real” Bellini, not like those popular frozen Bellinis you normally get at places like Cactus Club (I always had Bellinis at Cactus Club!). We were quite surprised that it came in just half a glass. It was crisp and comparatively light in alcohol which is just how we like our drinks.
What we like a lot about western dining is the bread. Suanne and I always look forward to the bread they serve and uses that as a yardstick of sorts of the restaurant. We appreciate it a lot if they make the bread themselves.
Il Nido’s serves homemade Italian bread and told us that they made them fresh. It is dense and on the dry’ish side. Like the ones we had at the Brix, they also serve this with multiple dips — olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.
We asked a dumb question to the waitress … how does one normally take the dip? Dip one at a time, a sequence (olive first then balsamic vinegar) or what? Dumb question begats dumb answers … she told us she does it all three at a time.
We like it a lot and asked for more bread. Suanne ALWAYS dunk a lot of these sort of things and soaks everything up — and she wants ME to ask for more.
Il Nido’s menu is simple and limited to a couple of pages. We thought it might be a good idea to opt for the “Let the chef make your 3 course meal tonight”. We asked if the meal will just be an item on the menu or if they will make sometime outside of the menu. The waiter told us it will be something outside of the menu.
So we settled for an order of the $45 “Let the chef make your 3 course meal tonight” and a separate order of mains … to share.
Expecting to be surprised, I was not very impressed with “secondi” salmon to tell the truth. I mean, how Italian is salmon anyway? It is more west coast fare than Italian. LOL!
The “Primi” is Ginger Beef which is wrapped in cabbage. It was a good start. This one we like a lot. It came in two and so we get to share.
Actually the salmon was not bad at all (just that we were expecting more Italiano stuff). The top of the salmon is seared to a crisp with the insides raw’ish like sashimi. It was very moist. It was actually very good. We like the fact that they had the skin on and had it seared (it’s underneath in the picture above).
We did not want beef for the mains. Why is it that beef is so dominant in such restaurants? We opted for pork instead. While we appreciate that large chunk of pork, it was very salty. I don’t know what this is called anymore but I do think they made it somewhat wrong for some reason.
The hash brown like thiny soaked up a lot of the salty gravy and the only thing I can remember this is how salty it was. So … while the Salmon was great, this somewhat misses the mark by a lot. I guess we should have told the waiter how we felt it was salty but did not think of doing it then … we should have. Maybe they made a mistake in the kitchen or something … maybe.
The dessert was good, presentation was pretty but is just chocolate mousse. Again, I was expecting more! It was really good and chocolatey but that’s about it.
The meal came to $100 after tips. In all honesty, I felt it was a bit too expensive for the type of fare we had. I am very sure we can have a more satisfying meal for cheaper even in the Robson area … like Kintaro Ramen. LOL!
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I love how the menu is phrased where the chef can make the decision if you are tired of making decisions! That’s how I feel sometimes. But I wonder if the offer is just a way for the restaurant to get rid of whatever they need to get rid of… I’ve never worked in a restaurant but I saw on some TV show (Kitchen Nightmares maybe?) where restaurateurs were advised to mention ‘specials’ that were sometimes things the restaurant needed to get rid of.
If you 2 like Italian Fare, check out Trattoria on West 4th, its good stuff and a fun room to be in. That pork chop does look good but too bad it was over salted eh.
And yes $100 can buy you and all of us readers bowls of ramen at Kintaro LOL!
I think the review misrepresents the place. This restaurant is amazing, and we have had many good meals here and its one of our regular spots. There are few rooms as warm and welcoming, and not many quiet courtyard patios either. And not really sure about the price comment when compared to neighborhood restaurants like Joe Forte’s (cheap product – overpriced and overcrowded), Coast, Cin Cin or others. Il Nido certainly stands out from these places. Its not the Earls or Cactus club, thats for sure, but thats not why we go there.
Taste is subjective and what is great for some is not so great for others,For example last year I was in Beijing at a famous Beijing duck restaurant over a 100 years old and I overhead an American Tourist in the next table say that the roast duck was good but in his opinion his favorite Chinese restaurant back home in Missouri had better food Chicken Chow Mien, Egg Foo Yung and Chop Suey Rice to die for. Different strokes for different folks