Location: 53 Water St
Located in Vancouver’s historic Gastown, this place has been one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever been to. Ever since my parents introduced this to me. Maybe this is why I started falling in love with pasta in the first place. No, I’m kidding, but that’d be an interesting story: the origins of how I came to love pasta. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to eat real pasta, pasta that is al dente and this place no longer meets that requirement. Don’t get me wrong, the food here is still delicious, but if it had been al dente, it would have made it so much more amazing.
Late lunches have now become a thing for us. I’ve always believed in having a late or early lunch and never one on time especially when eating out because crowds usually gather at the appointed lunch and dinner times and I like to avoid the rush. Lunch here is a great deal because they always start you off with a loaf of sourdough bread with whipped garlic and plain butters. Then you have a choice of soup or salad as a starter, followed by a main of your choice, finishing with a hot tea or coffee and Spumoni ice cream. One person ordered a house salad with the low fat sesame dressing, the other three had soups; two had French Onion and one had the Clam Chowder. While the dressing is low fat, that does not mean that the salad should be doused in dressing. In other words, the salad was way overdressed in that there was a puddle at the end. The Clam Chowder and French Onion are upgrades on the soup option (the original “free” choice would be Minestrone). The broth of the French Onion had a full bodied flavour and it wasn’t overseasoned. The cheese was stringy and chewy and that was the only thing that made it hard to eat. The Clam Chowder was so creamy and rich, but not so much so that it made it hard to finish. In fact, I was left hungering for more. Only one person took advantage of the tea or coffee deal our meal the others ordered soft drinks and just had water.
The main courses we ordered were Chicken Alfredo with Mushroom and Mascarpone Cheese Ravioli, Red Thai Curry Linguine with Chicken, Spaghetti with Clam Sauce, and Hot Roast Beef Sandwich with Fries. The Ravioli, despite being in a cream sauce was not too rich. When they first brought me my Linguine, they brought me the wrong one, prawn instead of chicken, but our waitress quickly noticed and took it a way before I had a chance to react. When she offered parmesan I said yes without thinking because I absolutely love fresh parmesan. After she left I stared at my dish for a minute before realizing that maybe putting cheese into an “Asian” dish wasn’t the best idea. The first few bites of the Linguine were delicious, but after a while, especially near the bottom where the oil had pooled, it got harder and harder to eat. In terms of aesthetics, the prawns looked so much better in the dish than the chicken. The chicken was tender enough to cut with a fork, but looked rather torn up. The Spaghetti was pretty ordinary. The clams sauce had basil in it and I find that basil is great for reducing that fishy taste often associated with seafood. My friend described it as being fairly light for a cream based sauce. Going to an Italian restaurant and ordering roast beef is probably not advised, but my sister has never been a fan of pasta so she decided to give it a try. Bad idea. The gravy, other than being overly abundant, was extremely salty. Fries are just fries and if someone messed those up…well, then they just suck.
Dessert was ice cream. It was tri-coloured so we were trying to figure out all the flavours. The obvious two were vanilla and chocolate, but the third one, a green on was a little harder. We narrowed it down to some sort of melon, but didn’t get farther than that. The vanilla was a lighter flavour than I was used to, but maybe because I’ve been having vanilla bean ice cream a lot more lately or maybe it was just overpowered by the other flavours.
Overall, my experience here has been really good. I was very impressed by the service and our waitress was really attentive to our needs. It’s definitely a family friendly restaurant and the quaintness of the place is a plus. I would come back again, but next time I’ll stick to the Italian fare and try out that Manicotti as I had originally intended. I would rate this place 4/5.