It’s been a while since my original visit, when they first opened. Since then, the neighbourhood has made them their local bar and they have reintroduced their menu. An easy going setting with fairly formal dishes. Good enough reasons as any to have me revisit and eventually amend my initial assessment.
After over a year, things don’t seem much different decor wise. The exterior is still draped with patio lights leading from awning to tree, it creates an archway of illuminated light. Today their small outdoor patio is left unseated, though I have often walked by to observe couples drinking and enjoying each other’s company, long into the darkness of the night. Though given the lack of view, I prefer the interior with its dim romantic lighting and its back supporting booths.
Their breakfast nook by the front window was unfortunately taken. It was an elevated platform holding a spacious booth, that provided the diner with natural lighting. Food always looks better in natural lighting, and I enjoying consuming with my eyes before I dine with my tongue. I remembered wanting to claim the best seat in the house during my first visit too. But like before, we were directed to the seats in the back. The cushioned booth that ran against the wall was still surrounded by tile, cork, and wood paneling on its three sides. I even recalled the odd sight of tiles with horses on it and the irregular light fixture crafted from black narrow pipes.
We ordered off the chalkboard wine list posted on the wall. They offered more options on red, white, rose, and bubbles than they did in food. Though the menu does offer more variety now. I remember during my first visit most of the entrees were savoury tarts.
Though the “Mushroom & Gruyere tart” with onion purée, puff pastry, and a green side salad was still being offered. It was the only clear option for the vegetarian of our group. The tart was built on a hearty, yet flaky pastry. The buttery crust paired well with the earthy mushrooms and the bold cheese. Though I would have preferred the whole assemble on herbed flatbread instead. The Gruyere was definitely the highlight of the dish, so we were disappointed to not have more grated on top.
The only down side to the “Braised pork belly” with corn risotto, celery, and red onions was that there was not more of it. They definitely earned bonus points for this presentation. An over turn ceramic basket strategically placed, just for show. The pork was prepared extremely tender. It had just the right amount of fat on each piece, to literally melt in your mouth. And its overall saltiness went well with the sweetness of the corn. Though from a textural standpoint I could have used some crunch, maybe a slaw or some pickled vegetable to add a crunch and offer a change in palate.
The “Seared albacore tuna loin” with fennel, warm barley, red cabbage, and almonds; use to be a feature, but was so popular that they made it a regular menu item. With so many elements this dish delivered on all that I was expecting visually, textural, and flavour wise. I have never had barely prepared like this. It reminded me of dirty rice, gritty with various textures thanks to the various sized grains and nut slivers. It was definitely filling. The celery and pickled beets gave it some crispness. And the tuna was seared a perfect pink and presented to highlight it on the dish. The pickled fennel offered that tartness I wanted in the pork dish before. Together it all felt very healthy. A dish I consumed with no regrets.
1520 West 13th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6H 1P1