Dine Out Vancouver, the popular food fuelled event that encourages diners to get out and back into restaurants, after an expensive holiday season is back. Running from February 5th to March 7th, with some changes in lieu of the times. The restaurant industry still needs to fill tables and place orders, but the motivation greater. Therefore it is not surprising that a handful of restaurants are taking a different approach to their menus, not just a choose your own adventure of three course at set prices; but they are weighing their options and approaching their menus differently to serve the times and the people.

Take the modern Asian French fusion restaurant The Rise, on South Granville for example. This year they are serving up a shared menu for you and your bubble buddies. At $42 per person, you share your courses with a minimum seating of 2. And if you aren’t comfortable dining in, take out is available as well.

The menu for a party of two includes the an amuse bouche each to start, and your combined choice of 1 out of the 4 small shared plate options, 2 out of 3 large shared plate possibilities, and 1 out of the 3 dessert choices. I have listed all the options for your reference, but naturally will only go into detail of what we actually had between two.

But before we start, worth noting is that they also have a full drink menu, put together to highlight the dishes available. We tried the two available cocktails, over the mocktails, and wine and beer options.

The G & Tea cocktail was a mix of their green tea infused gin, mint, lemon grass, and tonic. It was described as holistic and botanical, an easy sipper, it drank like any other tea would to help cleanse in between bites.

The Holliwood North was a fun one. Bench 1775 Sauvignon blanc, lychee liqueur, elderflower soda, and a cranberry and orange mango popsicle. The drink changed as the popsicle melted. Adding sweetness and flavour to the other wise white wine forward beverage.

As for food, our meal began strong. Our favourite dish and the most memorable was the amuse bouche with its standout flavour profile. A grilled rice crisp with slow roasted tomato jam and sour plum powder. This was such a clever idea. The sour plum kicked up an already unique take on chips and salsa. The chips in this case being deep fried rice roll wrap, which we thought was very creative.

For appetizer we went for the “Chicken Seoul Good”, as it sounded a lot more substantial than the rice battered brussel sprouts, miso braised cauliflower, or the rice pilaf. This was Korean style fried chicken in a wild mushroom cream with truffle oil, grated parmesan. It had all the best things that you want topping your crispy chicken. There is no hiding the truffle essence, it was fully highlighted by the creamy mushroom sauce. The serving is definitely meant for 2, so rich that I couldn’t indulge in more than 2 pieces, which meant tasty leftovers.

For entrees we originally choose the uni pasta and coconut rib adobo, but our engaging server convinced us that the the pho flavoured sizzling hot plate was the way to go. It was the newest addition to the menu and created specifically for Dine Out.

“Sizzling Pho Sure ” – Sautéed andouille sausage, shrimps, chicken, okra, corn, lobster broth, and crispy pho noodles. It was good, but didn’t meet my expectations. It was more stir fry than the noodle dish I envisioned when I read “pho”. Although I did get pho from the gravy you pour over the sizzling cast iron. It tasted just like the pho broth. It was uncanny and I couldn’t wrap my head around how they did it, and at the same time wanted it over a poutine with bean sprouts and thin cuts of beef. As for the ingredients, individually they were tasty, but all together I didn’t find them cohesive. This was especially the case for the very zesty andouille. I ended up taking the leftovers and rolling into a wrap for an amazing snack later in the day.

The entree I came in wanting and enjoy the most was the “Uni-Versal Pasta XO Edition”. A striking squid ink pasta fully coated in sea urchin cream, topped with an free run egg yolk, their house X.O. sauce, sautéed prawns, flying fish roe, and toasted seaweed. You are given the option of adding on fresh local sea urchin for $7.50, dependent on availability; and I highly suggest you indulge in this. You get two pieces because you are sharing and it certainly elevates the flavour. If you have the uni early on, it umami flavour lingers and carries forward throughout the rest of the dish. As a whole, all the ingredients worked well together. The tender noodles popped with the fish roe, the sauce offered a cheesy and milky quality, different from any other pasta dish. This was a good amount of richness between two, although we ordered three entrees so was treated to leftovers the next day. And like all pastas, this is better when given a chance to let all the flavour soak in.

Having made adobo for the first time recently, I was intrigued by the “A Rib Tickler”. This was described as coconut adobo braised short beef ribs with a sweet potato pomme purée, sous vide egg, grilled kale, and savoury orange & pecan praline. We unfortunately didn’t notice that the dish was set down with a gravy to self sauce. The original result: what we thought was a bland dish in comparison to everything else. Having dressed it accordingly, things certainly got more flavour. Although no where near rich and fatty like we know adobe to be, and we certainly didn’t get any coconut. The dish as a whole was more refined, a delicate plate you would get from a fine dining establishment, more Westernized.

And for dessert we choose between the hard choice of either a matcha cheese tart, ice cream mochi, or a bubble tea cake. We were encouraged to get the latter from our server, and would later learn that this is one of The Rise’s crown jewel. A dessert that took them plenty of time to perfect, and boy did they. The “Boba Coma” is tea tres leches, brown sugar tapioca boba pearls, crème anglaise, crema, brown butter crumble, and warm caramel. Cutting into the cream topped, soft sponge was a cave of caramelized boba pearls. My only critique here was there was not enough pearls to pair with tea flavoured cake. So sort of how it is like when you drink actual bubble tea, I guess.

In short, this is one Dine Out menu I would recommend. Follow in my food steps, or try something different for appetizers, but be sure not to miss out on the uni pasta and bubble tea cake for dessert. Available now until March 7th for $42 per person!

The Rise
3135 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6H 3K1