Dine Out Vancouver is back for its 17th year. Great deals on new and favourite restaurants, serving up specialty menus. Typically 3 courses set at either $15, $25, $35, or $45 price points. For most you get to select an appetizer, have your choice of entree, and a dessert from a couple of catered selections. Not only does it encourage you to get out and about when the weather makes you want to stay in, but it also helps the hospitality industry and those working in it.
With so many possibilities it is hard to choose which restaurant and when. My strategy is picking ones that I haven’t been to and going for the best deal. This allows you to try something new and even if you don’t like it, it isn’t a big loss to you or your wallet.
Tonight, I was one of the Donnelly Group properties to do just that. And if you visit the “Granville Room” or any of their other Public Houses, I highly suggest taking the savings and applying them to some drinks. At any of their establishments, each Dine Out course has a recommend BC wine or cocktail pairing that goes with it. And I can fully attest, that the food is made with pairing drinks in mind, and that both are made better with the other. And bonus, this bar is located on the Granville entertainment strip downtown, meaning it is easy to get to by transit.
The room is moody and dark, the later it gets the greater it fills. It has your typical bar vibe, playing music with a lot of base, offset by the roar of jovial conversation at neighbouring tables. You seat yourself at either the wooden bar or any of their booths or four top rounds. I recommend the former with its healthy back splash of bottles. Above the bar terrariums hang in decoration. Each equipped with its only spiky air plants laying on some rocks, they compliment the forest of vines and leaves that creep down from above the door way. The botanical elements gives the space a lushness and a literal breath of fresh air.
The Dine Out Dinner menu is three courses for $25, and if you go with a friend and share, you get to try 2 out of the 3 options for both the appetizers and entrees.
Starting with the appetizers we had “Jor’s Flautas”. You have a choice between the braised chicken or sweet potato filling, along with a topping of cilantro, sour cream, and salsa. Having had the chicken, I think I would have liked the sweet potato better. Its pasty texture would have offered a nice contrast to the crispy roll, as well as its natural sweetness. The chicken on the other hand was shredded and ashy, I wanted another texture that didn’t parallel the flour tortilla shell quite so well. It would have also been nice to have a cream based sauce to coat the chicken in, before wrapping it. I kept wanting something on the sweeter side from this, like a honey based sauce that would have been nice here. The appetizer as a whole reminded us of taquitos, and were just as zesty. Each roll had a nice spice to it that perfectly paired with the recommend BC VQA “Volcanic Hills” Pinot Gris. The slight burn was balanced out by the cool, crisp, and tart flavours of the Pinot, really elevating both.
Out of the three appetizers I highly recommend the “Prawn Lettuce Wraps”. The curry sauce it sat in was amazing. A fragrant coconut curry with ginger and sriracha. However, I wanted it with rice or some bread, to better soak up all that sauce. Especially given the generous ratio of prawn to lettuce. Instead, most of the curry dripped off the vein of lettuce it was served with, as the intended scoop/base. The cucumber and mint garnish added a nice touch of freshness, to each self-curated bite. The flavourful-ness of this was also well accented by the “Volcanic Hills” Pinot Gris, it toned and defined.
The third appetizer option that we skipped was the “Dirty Fries” with queso dip, sea salt, and parmesan. And I suggest you do too, if you plan on getting either the steak or the chicken below, as both come with a generous helping of fries as sides. Chewy, thick cut fries with a nice potatoey centre.
The “1/4 Rotisserie Chicken” featured quality white meat that was tender and moist. Although I was left wanting more of its natural juices to come through for added moisture. I could have dipped it into the side of gravy, but found it far too salty, with not enough meat flavour. Instead, I opted for ketchup, but would have been happier with a sweet honey maple barbecue. You also get a kale slaw on the side with the fries, but I was not a fan. The slaw was dry and bitter, with the texture of leafy greens, which I have never liked. Besides when there is fries why would you go for the vegetable option?
But the one to get is the “Steak Sandwich” with horseradish mayo, arugula, and tomato if you want something heartier. Or the always comforting “Mac & Cheese rigatoni” with truffled parmesan, bacon, and greens. We had the former and was not disappointed by the quality of the steak. Perfectly prepared to a medium rare, juicy and tender with a savoury spice. This was given a pop with the zesty horseradish spread. There was a little too much of it at some points, and overall it made the bread soggier. I would have enjoyed this better deconstructed. Steak as the main, buttered bread, and the salad on top as a side. Trying to eat this open face sandwich got messy, and trying to cut through the bread only made things worse. The fries were the same as above, the gravy was just as salty, but more like a jus you get with a beef dip. Nevertheless I didn’t use any of it, as the steak was already well seasoned.
The recommend BC VQA Wine/Beverage Pairing for all the entrees is a “Gehringer Cabernet merlot”. This is a mellow, easy drinking wine that acted as the perfect “meaty” palette cleanser between all the richer flavours. It also aided in balancing out the salt.
You didn’t get an option for dessert. Being primarily a bar, they weren’t as invested in flushing out a sweet menu. Instead, they completed this set menu with a “Drumstick”. The brand of frozen ice cream cone with a chocolate fudge centre and a coating of chocolate and peanuts, over vanilla ice cream, all on a sugar cone. I was a little disappointed in realizing it wasn’t made in house, but after one bite nostalgia kicked in and I was a-okay. Especially seeing in presented in a mason jar of jelly beans. Double the childhood feels.
And even this too had a beverage pairing. A Lot 40 Old Fashioned. And I must say I was both surprised and impressed at how well they went together. The chocolate in the ice cream almost caramelized the drink. It was weird, but it just made sense. I highly recommend trying it and/or dipping one into the other. Childhood indulgence and adulthood vice meeting and having mouth babies.
The food is definitely made to be paired with drinks, considering “Granville Room” is a night spot, with a bar front and centre. You come for the drinks, and if you are hungry there is an amazing set meal you can indulge in, for cheap. The way things are priced these days, the above for one is about the same price as a fast food combo with drink, fries, and frozen soft serve. Here, you get better quality food, and it feels like you are getting a deal. All in a setting that is much nicer that any place with florescent lights and a swivel chair. In conclusion, this was a great deal at $25 per person, plus drinks. The food was solid and we left with leftovers.
957 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L3