Today I was visiting “Nomad”, as one of the judges for the Vancouver Foodster sangria challenge. My role, to visit each of the five participating restaurants, to try their sangria creation; then judge it based on taste, originality and presentation. I won’t be revealing my thoughts on the drink here, as the competition is still running, but be sure to return back to my blog for the results and to see how I voted after October 7th.
I have only been to “Nomad” once before. And having tried a handful of their happy hour plates had me excited to explore more of their menu with a full dinner, today. To check out the original visit post, visit the link, then come back to read my revisit.
Their name refers to their inspiration, their ability to travel and try new flavour combinations and techniques, then apply it to their menu. A menu that is updated regularly and takes on a lot from its surroundings and what is available locally, just as a nomadic tribe would.
With minimal decorations, vaulted ceilings, and a few scenic photos where blue skies meets brown soil; the decor too subtly speaks to the nomadic theme. We were seated at the bar. This was the perfect vantage point to take in some of the little details they put into each cocktail poured. Like smoking glasses with wood and flame, and then storing them in the fridge. This seals in the smokiness that latches on to the moisture from the heating and cooling of the glass.
Here, on the high tops we were looked after by their very charisma bar manager, Benny. I would later learn that he has quite the following, which includes a crowd that comes in specifically on Thursdays, when he works, (and lucky for us, we were here on a Thursday). He has competed in various mixing competitions, including a big win at the “Hennessy Cognac” competition, locally. This win earned him the ability to complete, and represent Vancouver on a national level. And his creative three course cocktail was so popular that it earned him a seat at the judge’s table this year. This was one of the many inspiring stories he regaled us with. I was most impressed by his ability to continuing mixing as he took us through this history of achievements.
We would get a taste of his ability with a glass of “Nomad’s” most popular drink, with over 18,000 glasses sold to date: The “Femme finale”. It included lavender, ginger syrup, fresh lemon, rose water, and sparkling wine. It was a pretty drink, light with citrus notes and bubbles. The house brandied cherry was literally the cherry on top of this cocktail.
The food portion of our night began with some house made sourdough bread. Baked daily every morning, this half loaf of warm crusty bread was served with cultured butter and smoked salt. It was good as is, better with the butter, and next level with the salt highlight the natural tang of the dough. I just wished that the crust wasn’t as tough as it was. I found it scraping the roof of my mouth, to the point that I decided to peel it away and leave only soft spongy bread to spread with butter.
As they did with their bread, they had a different approach with their squid. Whereas most restaurants fry or grill their’s, here their “Humboldt squid” is seared for a different texture and appreciation of its natural flavours, (this is also something that they are known for). It is served in a panang sauce with tomatillo, cilantro, roasted chickpea, house pickled red onion, and king oyster mushroom. The creamy coconut sauce had a curry feel to it. It did well to highlight the firm and chewy squid. As I eluded to earlier, I have never had a texture like it before. Something like what I would expect from squid, but with the qualities of eating fish. There really isn’t anything like it. Sadly, the side ingredients really didn’t do anything to further the plate. I wanted more variety in the textures, less softness, like with the grainy chickpeas (but this is also a preference thing). More pickled vegetables with a crunch (green beans and cauliflower) and maybe the mushrooms in larger chunks would have help. But honestly the squid by itself is worth ordering for a try. I would have preferred it as a steak to cut into too.
The “Hannah brook organic green salad” would have served better as a side to the squid above, instead of a main on its own. I did enjoy the flavouring of the toasted sunflower and preserved orange dressing, the bits of pickled roasted peppers, and especially the dehydrated plum, with the crispy quinoa. But overall even as fully dressed as it was, it still felt like it was lacking. There were too many greens where u wanted more fruit, more plum, and more crunch.
Our version of the “Shaw family farms pork tenderloin” included only 2 cuts of the tender pork as a tasting, thought normally it does come with 3. It is prepared with organic soy beans, broccoli, whipped yams, and miso jus. The jus was a tad on the salty side, but delicious when paired with the beautiful sweet yam purée, and the slightly cooked, crunchy broccoli. The beans offered substance, but once again I am not a fan of such beans and their grainy texture.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
There aren’t many cocktail spots in the Main Street area, so I can definitely suggest this one if you are looking for a unique glass. Here, it will be offered with attentive service, and a welcoming aura. They preach and saw to it that our time with them would be all about the experience, offering us and those dining a lasting memory in some small way. Overall, a beautiful way to enjoy a different take on your favourite proteins and sides. Don’t deny your cravings.
3950 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P2