Coming out of her wedding, our birthday girl and host needed somewhere special to celebrate her birthday. Somewhere dressier to slowly ease herself back to reality, and what better one than the all white interior of Ancora, water front dining. Especially in stark comparison to us, which she had dress all in black for the occasion.
The restaurant is set to the backdrop of still water and boats at dock in the harbour, with the Granville bridge framing the scene in the distance. From sun rise to sun set, a table by the a patio or one with a look out the window gave you a good view.
We were given the private party room on the second floor. It came with a more aesthetic than functional “Romeo and Juliet balcony”. It and the all glass walls, gave us a perched view above the restaurant. Past the fishing nets strung with crystal and all the way down to the white and black tiled floor. The crystal was a cascade of spheres dancing in the light and a sleek black and white tiled floor was checkered in pattern.
Our guest of honour made things easier for us and the restaurant. They supplied and we all ordered off a set menu. $59 got us a choice between appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Apparently there was another menu for $10 more, but it came with the addition of beef as an option. What we had was plenty to choose from.
Our white table clothed meal began with a complementary tray of quinoa and focaccia bread with a spiced Peruvian chickpea hummus as a spread. It was thick with lots of herbs both in it and the bread. It weighed the fluffy slices of fresh bread down, in a delicious way.
Below is a collection of all the dishes offered on the menu. I was able to photograph the plates of my neighbours. And there was enough of us to compare notes and consistency between servings.
“Nikkei style quinoa salad” with edamame, pickled beets, kale, huacatay crema, nori tempura.
I went with the “Squash and lobster bisque” topped with a black cod croquette and a chive creme fraiche. I could smell the lobster in the soup as soon as it was served. And the broth was just as strong and as fragrant, and as hot and as creamy as it looked. A pungent flavour that the chives complimented with their freshness. A great start to warm the stomach up with literally and figuratively. Plus a better dip for the bread above.
The “Pacific lingcod” came with a side of their forbidden rice chorizo paella, with shrimp, Peruvian corn, baby squid, broccoli, and bell peppers; all in a pimenton emulsion. Those who tried it said the fish was light with the essence of tomato, but the squid was overpowering in its burnt state.
I went with the more rich “Kurubata pork duo” of pork loin and pork belly. Prepared with potato fondant, trumpet mushroom purée, onion jam, and organic baby carrot; all in a red wine reduction. The pork loin was dry, and the outer crust was a little too salty for both cuts, a salt that was only furthered by the warm jus. Yet some how I still found that the loin tasted bland, with its single tone. The belly was at least texturally incredible. But by comparison, the Lima beans were starchy and hard, and the mushroom charred with a strong scorch on a wire grill. Overall I found that there was too much going on with the plate to appreciate it cohesively. And there were also inconsistencies between all the servings. One guest got her pork too raw. They took it back, only to bring it properly recooked. I would have expected such a prestigious restaurant to prepare a new plate from scratch or at least discount the error from her bill. They basically served her rare pork.
The “Spiced picarones” were Spanish doughnuts made with roasted almonds and dulce de leche, with a spiced ice cream. I found it humorous that our server describe them as as Tim-bit sized.
I wish I got the latter instead of the “Sorbet selection with fresh fruit”. When questioned, our server didn’t even know what the “selection” was, and didn’t seem like she was willing to ask anyone about it. She guessed guava and strawberry, and it had me wondering what about those with allergies. We later surmised it was pineapple, guava, and white peach. As is the case with many sorbets, I found them too tart for my liking, leaving me missing the cream I get from their tastier ice cream cousins.
It is always hard to judge a large party service. But they were beyond accommodating. We were given our space and allowed to take our time, and they even adjusted the lighting to our preference. All very important considering our birthday girl loves a good photo shoot and all components above were key. So you know the staff were patience as well. And when it came time to pay we each got our own individual bills, with the added on gratuity written in pen so that no one missed it and double tipped, a fact that was also brought up by our server as well.
The washrooms were labelled with your choice between a mermaid or a pirate silhouette. I would classify myself as more of a pirate, but would not be well received behind that door with its urinals.
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? – Yes.
A great setting with a one of a kind backdrop, which would having me return for cocktails. Though the meal was only decent. Nothing struck me as worth coming back for, or having me wanting to try them any more. And a set menu or group dinning shouldn’t make a difference. Don’t deny your cravings.