Location: 2310 4 St SW (Mission Location)
This was the second time I had been to Vin Room Mission. The first time was some time in the last year of my undergrad, but we came primarily for drinks rather than food. The menu had intrigued me since and I finally got the chance to try it out.
After an entire summer of promising to hang out and see each other, the plan to do so finally came to fruition. Being a tapas bar, I knew that portion sizes would be small and prices would be high. We started small and ordered five dishes: wild boar gnocchi, chicken meatballs, beef carpaccio, lobster nachos, and crab cakes. The wild boar gnocchi is not quite a tapas item, it was large enough to be considered a dish on its own if you wanted. The purpose of the gnocchi was primarily to fill us up (and gnocchi is very filling since it’s essentially fluffy pillows of carbs). This is one of the best gnocchi I’ve had to date for Brae, it’s one more dish I can add to the list of things he likes to eat. The biggest surprise were the chicken meatballs. On the menu, they didn’t seem like they’d be anything special, but the chili jam that came with it elevated it to a fine dining status. The biggest disappointment for me were the crab cakes. It was my most highly anticipated dish, but it fell flat on many levels. I understand that crab cakes are inherently “crumbly,” but I just expected it to hold together much better than it did. There was a lot less curry sauce than I expected and I was only able to detect hints of the curry because there was so little of it. Of course I don’t need the cakes to be swimming in it, but enough to drizzle over the cakes or provide more than a hint of flavour was along the lines of what I was looking for. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of tatakis or carpaccios (which are essentially the same thing, save for the seasonings -one being Japanese and the other Italian). Combined with the arugula and russet potato chip that it was meant to be paired with, the delicate flavour of that particular carpaccio got lost. The lobster nachos were exactly as I expected: chopped up lobster piled on top of tortilla chips with a whole bunch of plain chips below. I found the best way to eat them was to take one chip that had been loaded with lobster and divide it between two or three other plain chips. However, there was still so much extra that I started putting the ground wild boar from the gnocchi on them and this turned out to be a great idea. Not only was it delicious, but it made sure none of the boar went to waste.
We had tried to stick around until happy hour as the oysters would be offered at a discounted price. In an attempt to prolong our visit, we ordered a calamari. Calamari is typically my favourite and this one didn’t live up to its potential. While the dipping sauce and breading were well done, the calamari itself was a little problematic. The first bite was normal, but as you continued to chew, a sort of liquid started seeping out, leaving a rather unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth.
For a Friday night I found it to be quieter than I expected. Perhaps it was because we had an “early” dinner (the reservation was at 7pm, but regardless). I’m guessing that most of the patrons were seated on the patio to enjoy the last days of summer. As we found out later, their patio is dog friendly and two of the friends I went with had dogs so one of the waitresses gave them each a small doggy bag with treats to take home, inviting us to bring the dogs next time we visited. We were served by two waitresses and one of them seemed like she was a location owner or at the very least a manager as she was dressed differently from everyone else. According to Brae, the waitress that was the first to help us grew increasing irritable by the end of the night. I didn’t quite understand why she wanted us out of there so quickly. I mean there were plenty of empty tables and we were still kind of ordering food.
Despite those minor hiccups, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Taking everything into consideration, I would rate this place a 3.5/4. I would return here, but probably not in the recent future as the price is expensive and the menu has not changed much since I was here the first time.