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Posts tagged ‘gnocchi’

Restaurant Review: Vin Room

Location: 2310 4 St SW (Mission Location)
Website: http://www.vinroom.com

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.

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Chicken Meatballs

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Crab Cakes

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Wild Boar Gnocchi

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Lobster Nachos

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Lobster Nachos

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Beef Carpaccio

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Restaurant Review: Via Cibo

Location: 101-104 Country Village Rd NE
Website: http://www.viacibo.com/

Years ago, I went here with my parents and sister after our trip to Italy, but I don’t remember much of it.  The only thing I remember of that trip was getting a macchiato and having my dad say, “That’s even stronger than what I drink.” It made for a good laugh.

This time, I had the fortune of going with my boyfriend, his cousin, and her kids. The best part about this was that we got to share everything family style, allowing us to try out more dishes off their menu. Via Cibo isn’t like your typical sit down restaurant. It’s setup more like Vendome’s is: you order at the counter and are given a number. Once the dishes have been prepared, they are brought out to your table.

Most everyone had a generic drink (soft drink or juice), but I ordered an Italian soda. Since they had cherry, I went for it. Usually it’s my sister who has the Italian soda, but today I felt adventurous. There was a nice balance of syrup to carbonated water making it so that it wasn’t too bland or too sweet.

That evening we ordered a pepperoni pizza for Braeden and two formaggio (cheese) pizzas off the children’s menu (which is actually a meal combo which comes with a drink and gelato) for Cindy’s kids, Keenah and Taye. The pepperoni pizza isn’t like the chain pizza joints’ style of pepperoni pizza. The crust was thin where the toppings were and airy around the edges.  It was garnished with rosemary which set it apart from most other kinds of pepperoni pizza, giving it an almost more high class, refined taste. And the pepperoni tasted like cured meat usually tastes, unlike pepperoni on store bought or chain pizza restaurants, which tastes just like salt.  Cindy and I ordered the Gnocchi and Steak Italiana to share. The Gnocchi was a no brainer as it had been a recommendation from Cindy/a friend of hers.  The Gnocchi consisted of a Gorgonzola cream sauce, pancetta, and slow roasted tomato, garnished with green onion and Grana Padano. I am typically apprehensive about dishes that contain Gorgonzola or any form of bleu cheese because of its strong taste and smell. However, this was not the case with this dish. For those who don’t know, pancetta is essentially Italian bacon, which of course enhanced the flavour of the dish, potentially masking.  Another reason could be that Gorgonzola is a milder bleu cheese than others I have had. One bite of the gnocchi was all it took to send me to cloud nine. If luxury was a dish, this would be it. The richness of the dish made me feel as though I was dining in a high end, expensive restaurant rather than a place serving Italian street food. My only reservation about this dish is the addition of the tomatoes. They did not serve to enhance the flavour or add anything to the dish. The second thing, I’m not sure if this is a reservation or not, but the balance of gnocchi to pancetta was off. I’m not sure if that was originally how it was or if it was because the gnocchi was so good that we were too focused on eating that and not paying attention to the pancetta. The Steak Italiana was something more reminiscent of Italian street food. It consisted of Grilled Steak, arugula, carmelized onion, slow roasted tomato, Grana Padano, and a Pesto Aioli. The steak was perfectly cooked.  The tomatoes had far more utility in this dish than in the gnocchi. There was a nice balance of sweet (tomatoes and onions), salty (steak and Grana Padano), bitter (arugula), and richness (onion and aioli) in the sandwich. The sandwich came with a small salad that provided the acid the dish needed. However, since we got so much food, I wasn’t able to finish the salad on my own. Lastly we got Tuscan fries to share (regular for the kids). The Tuscan fries were aggressively seasoned with rosemary and salt with a hint of white truffle oil, garnished with Grana Padano and served with a spicy aioli. I found the fries to be a little on the salty side, but they had good flavour and crunch.

For dessert the children consisted of Nutella gelato. Brae got the mango pineapple gelato, and I got a pistachio affogato. Turns out Brae loved it so much that after we left, we actually came back later that evening to get another one and came back again the following day. This was my first time getting an affogato. An affogato is  gelato with a shot of espresso. Although I chose pistachio, I feel like coconut or something creamier (chocolate -which they were out of- or vanilla) would have complemented the espresso better because pistachio has such a light flavour that it got lost. The next day, when Brae came to get his mango pineapple gelato, I got the coconut one. It is more like a sorbetto than a gelato and I’m thinking it probably wouldn’t have worked any better.

If I had another stomach I would’ve tried the mushroom pizza they had on special. If their pizza was anything like the one I had at Scopa, I would have died. That pizza is truly the most amazing, delicious pizza I have had in my life. Maybe next time I go they’ll still have it.

Based on my experience this time, I would rate it 4.5/5 and would definitely return. I love restaurants with an open kitchen so that I can watch them cook, but also because I can see exactly how far along they are along with my dish and watch them walk my food out to me. The wait staff was patient and very helpful and friendly. I can’t wait to come back here again another day.

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Kitchen

cashier

Cashier

cheese-pizza

Formaggio (Cheese) Pizza

tuscan-fries

Tuscan Fries

steak-italiana

Steak Italiana

pepperoni-pizza

Pepperoni Pizza

gelato

Mango Pineapple Gelato

affogato

Pistachio Affogato

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