You have probably seen the photos and videos for this one of a kind dining experience, bouncing around social media. Well it is finally open, and they have now settled in West Vancouver for the season, running from January 15th to February 16th, 2020.
This is “Dinner with a View”, a travelling dinner troupe that sets up and dismantles their domes and its luxe setting, moving from city to city. The chosen location is at Ambleside Park. The lit domes are visible driving up, with plenty of free parking around. Their next destination, after Vancouver is San Francisco. Each stop takes a couple weeks to build, with the staff screwing hexagonal plexi-panels together to form each dome. You book your seat by the round, $200 each with chairs for 6; so basically it is $33.33 per person. Dinner is separate, at $109.99 per person. It is prepared by 2019’s “Top Chef Canada” winner: Paul Moran; who is traveling with the troupe on its North American tour.
The menu is a surprise with the ability to simply choose between meat, fish, or vegetarian for your entree. They are calling this a “blind tasting”, but you can continue reading to see what you can actually expect from this luxury experience. Or better yet, watch my vlog recap, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei. Get the behind the scenes look and the real deal feel, to see if this one is worth attending yourself. On that note, tickets and seatings are still available until February 16, at 7pm and 9:30pm.
Despite your seating time, I highly recommend coming down earlier to take in the scenery and grab a drink at their pop up bar. Not only does this extend your time amongst the domes, but it also allows you to take some memorable shots before dinner, as to not take away your time within a dome.
The bar is serviced by a lone bartender offering up mixed cocktails from prominent spirits brands and/or wine. We started with the “Ketel One Bontanical” grapefruit spritz and the “Tanqueray” gin “sevilla tonic”. Well enjoyed with mood lighting and stand up tables. We then moved on to red and white wine by “Frico”. I enjoyed the medium bodied red with good mailability. Each was an easy drinking wine that transitioned from a stand and sip beverage, to the pairing for each of the three courses to come.
Our entire time slot stood and chatted, while servers cleared tables and tidied up from the service before. As we sipped and lingered, we were given table numbers that corresponded to the number on one of the domes. And when time, we were ushered to our dome, entering, after unzipping the doorway flap.
Our dinner night came with heavy rain and flooded roads. The packed earth each dome sat on was muddy, pooled with pockets of water that made it hard for some to get to their designated seats. Worth nothing is that you don’t get to choose your dome, and that each is decorated slightly different from the next. Different furniture and different faux plants. Our dome had orange chairs with cushions, black and white geometric throws, and plastic cacti in a white planters. Others were outfitted with long tables and shared benches covered in faux fur. Some were extra tropical with plenty of faux foliage. But each with blankets, a portable heater, and a fire extinguisher. Each dome does get warm with the enclosure sealed, and the 6 person body heat moving about and drinking. The quarters are quite close, so I highly recommend arranging a dinner with people you actually want to be sealed off in a dome with.
As for which dome you get, it doesn’t really matter in my opinion. From where they were set up you don’t get much of a view: beach, parking lot, or otherwise. It was too dark to enjoy anything, and you are caught up in conversation with your table mates sitting across from you anyways.
Your meal begins with a welcome introduction from your server, who confirms your order and brings your drinks at cost, or water in still or sparkling. The food then comes out fairly quick. Smaller plates balanced on the arms of a couple of staff members. Larger servings wheeled out in a caddy, much like aboard a plane being severed by a stewardess.
The entire menu is inspired by Chef Paul Moran’s home town of Tofino, BC. A very vegetable-forward menu, utilizing his favourite ingredients, with several being hand foraged by our chef himself. Served alongside produce and products that are currently in season, this winter. He promises a meal that speaks directly to Vancouver and Canadian cuisine. Overall, I liked everything just fine for a farm to table feast, but it lacked the richness of a luxe experience in the cold winter weather. The menu felt string forward, if not summer ready. I expected stews instead of salads, red meat instead of lean protein, and a chocolatey rich dessert to close on, instead of fresh fruit. My review is written with that perspective, and consider what is before me, as is.
We began with a lovely fermented sourdough bread, served with a Tofino seaweed butter. As a fan of the tangy-sour fresh bread, I liked this take, especially with the unique sea salted flavour of the butter.
Our appetizer was a dairy-free, vegan salad, that played on beef tartar. A beet root salad with gala apples, crispy sun chokes, winter greens, and salsa verde. It was a lovely start, with plenty of fresh vegetables. Great as a palette refresher, better as a side. But as an appetizer this was too much of the same thing, on one plate.
The entree is based on what you preselected when you purchased your tickets. Vegetarians got a crispy ginger and soy tofu dish with all the same sides as the two dishes below. Rice and greens in a garlic and sesame sauce, with morel mushrooms on the side. The following are the meat and fish options.
For “meat” you get a crispy Fraser Valley boneless chicken breast, brined over night for more flavour. Served with a smokey and sweet mustard with tarragon, yellow German fingerling potatoes, heirloom carrots, celery root, morel mushroom, and a sabayon sauce (typically an Italian dessert made from eggyolk, white wine, and sugar). The mushrooms are foraged by Chef Moran, and his foraging company. These were my favourite part of this dish. All the chicken breasts were not prepared equally. I found mine especially dry, and that of my diner mate’s were more moist. Overall, it tasted exactly as it looked, and how it reads. Simple and clean, where as I was looking for some complexity, and some more starch to have along with the meat and vegetables.
Instead, I highly recommend the miso and maple marinated black cod. Served on a bed of black forbidden rice with pickled heirloom radish, a sesame and yuzu emulsion, and asian greens (boy choy) in a garlic sauce; all topped with sesame seeds. Here, we got a lesson on the rice: it being rich in antioxidants, and originally only for the emperor of China’s consumption, hence the name. The miso sauce is strong, but necessary to flavour the rest of the dish. The fish was cooked beautifully with a nice golden brown crust, it had the artistry and refined feel that I wanted from the chicken above. It certainly matched my expectations of the experience, and the pedigree I expect from a “Top Chef” winner.
Dessert was more simple, a tropical and light fruit dish that I would expect on an outdoor summer menu. A Madagascar vanilla and lime marinated pineapple with in-house made coconut mousse and crumble; dusted with blackberry and mint to finish. It was gluten-free and dairy-free; and curated to help you leave the table with a clean palette, and the ability to “do some dancin’ after”. Sweet pineapple, airy coconut foam, and toasted crumbs for crunch. It tasted good and was as intended, but I just wanted something more decadent to end on.
Luckily, we had one more surprise to come. A cocoa powder dusted, house made truffle. Bitter dark chocolate with bite.
Worth noting is that I had a similar contrasting experience between the dinner service and the washrooms. Located at the park, the facilities were the public ones available to the everyone. There aren’t many alternative options here, but it certainly took you out of your element fast. Although I still prefer this to any Porto-potty.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend the experience, I have yet to dine in a setting quite like this. A great date night solution and upcoming Valentine’s Day destination, with the option to rent out an entire dome for two. Where dinner is equipped with a menu that caters to dietary restrictions, with lots of seafood and veggies. For more on this limited release event and how you can still get tickets, visit the link below.
DINNER WITH A VIEW