Tonight I met up with a handful of local Vancouver food bloggers, for our semi regular met up. (Areta of “Foodgressing”, Sherman of “Sherman’s Food Adventures”, David of “Picky Diner”, Hanson of “Nosh & Nibbles”, and Kristina of the former “Drunken Noms” fame.)
Just a group of friends coming together to share their common interest. No special treatment, no media access, just six friends having dinner with their own portable lights and high end camera gear.
We made reservations at “Dachi”, the old home of the now shuttered “Campanolo Roma”. And our larger party request came with a warning. There is only room for about 40 patrons total in the smaller space, so we were told our meal and what we would have, would be somewhat dictated by the pace of the kitchen. Just as well, seeing as they don’t have an omakase menu. A list of the chef’s special of the day, like we normally gravitate towards, seeing as no one usually wants to order for the entire group. So we all agreed to allow the kitchen to help give us a taste of their entire menu through servings, on their time.
We were given the only large table, right by the front window, right in front of the bar. The bar that was painted in a medium blue and topped with a marble counter. If you grabbed a seat on one of their matching blue stools, you sat facing three shelves worth of bottles lit in a golden yellow hue. It was well highlighted and well used tonight.
The rest space was kept clean: black tile under foot, wood panels covering the ceiling and two rows of bulbs hanging from them. There wasn’t much in terms of decor, except from my vantage point. Looking up and facing the door I was able to take in the shelf that lined the ceiling. Living plants in urns, a collection of hard covers, and a couple of character figurines.
As for the actual food, be warned, their menu does change quite often. So if you see something below it may no longer be available for you when you actually visit. So call ahead to confirm.
Both of the owners were working the front today. They were great at explaining said menu, giving us the opportunity to ask questions. Like where the name “Dachi” came from. It is the shorten version of “friend” in Japanese. More informal like “buddy” or “pal”. It represented the two owner’s friendship and their partnership in this endeavour.
We began with a few cocktails from off of their specialty drink list. Like their food menu, this too was promised to change and be updated frequently. This month’s offering was themed, each a twist on a city’s classic.
“The people’s word” was a strong drink made from mezcal, green chartreuse, lime, and spiced cherry cordial.
The “Industry standard” was more like a punch by comparison. Made with Sloe gin, dry vermouth, Fernet branch, grapefruit, and lemon sherbert.
The “Home away” was last unique, considering it included their own “house liqueur #1”, along with Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters.
Our table shared two servings of the following appetizers, it gave everyone the ability to have more than just a nibble. And thankfully, seeing as we all enjoyed having a whole “Three year aged cheddar and buttermilk biscuit”. Each slattered with as much of the mutsu apple butter spread as you liked. Although the butter offered very little flavour, it only had a mild salty apple sauce taste, and only if you were looking for it. It was mostly hidden behind the incredibly cheesy and chewy biscuit with airy pockets.
Our table was fond of the burrata and how they paired it with toasted seeds, radicchio, and Anjou pear with PX vinegar. I on the other hand preferred the classic olive oil and balsamic combo. In general I differed from the group, opting for more familiar flavours than the new ones being presented here. I have never had bread like this, with this sort of dressing and combination, but found you needed it all together for balanced bites. The seed butter was pretty prominent, whereas I was looking for more sweetness to pair with the fresh pear, like honey and walnut.
The “Yarrow meadows duck confit croquettes” were nice, each crispy nugget was packed full of pulled duck meat. I would have preferred a sweet and sour plum sauce for dipping, but the smoked golden raisin purée and pickled celery was an interesting take for a sweet and tangy flavour combination. I would suggest eating the pickled celery as a last bite given how strong the pickling was, it was best served as a good palette cleanse.
The “Mushroom and toasted seed perogies” were one of my favourite dishes of the night. But even then, one is plenty, given how much chopped up woodsy mushroom they pack into this nutty pocket. And if you still don’t feel like you have enough mushroom here, they offer a slice of king oyster mushroom on top, along with a celeriac purée to smear into. But what I loved most about this dish was the texture of the doughy and thickness of the shell.
Similarly, I liked the “Gnudi folded with ricotta” for its texture. Each of these little drops came with a great chewy centre. Each well seasoned in a kombu braised leek purée, with toasted buckwheat and sweet onion. This was a great dish, but it left me wanting something fresh, and not just the onion. Maybe some sun choke, carrots, or peas. I also found the crunch of the barley a little much when paired with the soft and and doughy gnudi.
The “Vancouver island Manila clams” were also very lovely. Served in a fragrant roasted onion broth with emulsified egg yolk scattered over top. The broth was so good that when all the clams were gone, I found myself scooping spoons of the plain brown liquids into my gaping mouth. My table mates found its flavour comparable to pho broth. The dish also came with crispy pork belly and crackling, although I didn’t find the dish needed this extra decadence. I ended up eating each element on their own anyways, as I found the pork over powering the calm.
The following entrees were slip between the six of us. At this point we were edging on full, with 4 entrees and 2 desserts still left on our journey to try their entire menu.
The “Country fried steelhead trout” came with salted beets and a horseradish gribiche. The latter served as a grown up tartar sauce. The only element that didn’t flow were the beets, they were well prepared, but didn’t give me country, much like the breading that could have been more chunky and crispy for that same country feel.
I found the “Roasted winter squash stew” comforting. Made with cashew butter, toasted ricotta, and px vinegar this was a rich serving that ate more like a whipped purée. It was thick enough to spread over toast, and I found myself wanting some pita with it.
The “Braised pork cheek” were amazingly tender, a fresh plate with the sun choke, parsnip purée, roasted hazelnut, and oloroso sherry. Shame I was too full to enjoy this in its entirety. If I wasn’t, I would have wanted some more starch with this.
Similarly, the “Twenty four hour roasted beef chuck flat” was tender, but also missing something to make it a full entree. Prepared with heirloom carrot, red miso, Swiss chard.
For dessert I wished there was something lighter, a breezier end to complete our fulsome feast on. Instead we had two very filling and two very decadent desserts to work through.
The “Poached Granny Smith apple” was the lighter of the two; prepared with cider sabayon, spice cake, and ginger mascarpone. The cake was spongy, it came with a creeping spice. I wanted more freshness for it, outside of the tart apple that could have used a longer bake time.
The “69% cocoa chocolate ganache” was a richer dessert. Made with meringue, hazelnut streusel, and a pear vanilla purée. The streusel was a little too crunchy, and I continually sought out more freshness form the fruit. I also wish it was more sweet to compensate for the slight burnt flavour I tasted.
To wash it all down we were treated with a celebratory shot of “Limoncello”. This was a liqueur made locally with Yuzu, chilli, and pepper. It was punchy at 30%. It was just a shame that majority of us drove and weren’t able to full enjoy the shot this late in our meal.
And don’t forget to visit one of their two private washroom stalls. It is papered with fabulous pink flamingos and tropical leaves.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I give them credit for an inventive menu. I found their ingredient combinations and flavour pairings fun, though not something I would seek out again or gravitate to in general. Truthfully I enjoy the familiar, but all my table mates were quick to disagree with me. I liked the space and their location near my neighbourhood, as they would make a great bar to meet a friend at for drinks. I would skip dinner; however, if you believe the stats: 5 out of 6 food bloggers give “Dachi” the green light. Not to mention their next menu will be updating in two weeks, giving diners a more spring inspired offering. Therefore what I had tonight will be completely different, giving me a completely different impression of them. Don’t deny your cravings.
2297 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1V3