Looking for a place to eat, my guest and I walked Main Street in search of anything that stroked our fancy. And tonight that would be the Dine Out Vancouver sign advertising Campagnolo’s $35, 3 course meal.

We came in and the restaurant was just as I remembered it to be. A refined vibe, with a golden glow and simple furnishings. The only difference today was the new blue separator, built to mimicked glass windows on a cottage. We were seated at a booth across from it, so I was able to admire it all night.

Their Dine Out Vancouver menu doesn’t really feature anything out side of their regular menu. It simply has you ordering one or two more courses than you normally would, and saving some money on it.

To start with we shared the “Bitter Royal” cocktail with bourbon, mery melrose cognac, and 3 amari: sibilla, nonimo, nardini. It was as strong and as it looked, but still gave you some softness at the end.

For appetizers we had our choice between soup or two salads. We skipped on the “Crispy Ceci”, after taking our server’s suggestion. This was chickpeas seasoned with lemon, chili, mint, evoo, and scallion.

I am going to preemptively set the expectation of this meal and state that we came in drinking before so were searching for something more richer to coat our bellies with. A point I didn’t realize, until we got to dessert. As leftovers without the drunk appetite everything was fantastic. The flavours well paired with one another and satisfying in its’ distinctiveness.

In hindsight, with my drunk appetite, vinaigrette soaked greens weren’t as satisfying as the crispy chickpeas would have been. But the next day the “Winter Radicchio Salad” was a lively and bright mix, slightly bitter from tart greens, but with just the right amount of salt from the castelvetrano olives. The herbed croutons offered crunch, the meyer lemon’s zest helped to brighten up the dish, and the clothbound cheddar rounded out the textures with some chew. If you got everything on one spoon you are in for a treat. Good, but best as a side to some protein.

But in our state we both preferred the “Wild Mushroom Veloute” made with locally foraged mushrooms, and a sourdough crouton with rouille. I enjoyed the creamy soup with its thick cuts of chunky mushroom, but the cracker got soggy fast. A side of bread for dipping would have been nice, and helpful in sobering up.

For entrees you had a choice between two pastas or a risotto. Given my guest’s dietary restriction, we skipped on the “Strozzapreti Bolognese whole wheat pasta, pork & beef”. And instead had the “Spaghetti Pomodoro” with tomato sauce, garlic, evoo, and basil. It came with the option to add homemade meatballs for $8, but it didn’t need it, it was already plenty flavourful and rich. The sumptuous cheesiness of this, and its well sauced and chewy noodles were the comfort we wanted to end our night of drinking on. But when eating it normally, and at moments where you will find the spaghetti too overwhelming in one tone, I suggest switching to the risotto dish below for a nice contrast.

The “Red Wine Risotto” had raw local apples and root vegetables, with black garlic. This was a new take on the chewy rice dish, and I found it interesting. I got a sharpness from the wine, and a sweetness from the beets, and found freshness from the julienned apple. Once again not quite what my body wanted to sober up with, starch and comforting chew aside. But especially delicious warmed up the next day, and taken in conjunction with the sweeter pasta above.

For dessert, we got one of each of the available options. The “BC Blueberry & Polenta Cake vanilla crema” was vegan friendly. The cake had that micro grainy texture you get from the use of polenta; something I am more familiar with as corn bread, and so it added some savouriness to this cake. I liked the look the kernels of popcorn gave, but didn’t think they added anything to the flavour. And the sharp kernel skins gave an undesirable rough texture to the cake. The fruit brought it back to dessert territory with its natural sweetness that played off the light cream wonderfully.

The “Dark Chocolate Torte” was also vegan friendly and gluten free, and as a result this too had a crumbly texture, but here punctuated with crushed nuts. The flavours were nice, bitter chocolate and tart cherries with a little cream for a Black Forest Cake feel. Although I wanted a spongy cake base to enjoy it all with. Something soft and sumptuous to melt on to my tongue, and I didn’t get it with either desserts. Therefore we didn’t end up finishing either, nor did we pack it to go. It didn’t satisfy like any dessert, I was hoping for. But I recognize that they are absolutely a great solution for those with such dietary restrictions.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Great as a normal meal, but not ideal as drunk food. And exciting as leftovers, when I could taste my way through the experience more alert and observant.
Don’t deny your cravings.

CAMPAGNOLO
1020 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-484-6018
campagnolorestaurant.ca