You can always tell the quality of a hotel and its restaurant by its lobby and that did not disappoint.
The restaurant is on the second floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, kitty corner to their front desk, sandwiched by hair salons and high end boutiques. A school of carved wood fish swam towards you at the divide between hotel and restaurant foyer. It was a thoughtful reference to the fresh seafood they offered.
Walking in I was impressed by the vaulted ceiling of the establishment. Nothing makes you feel more little than a room that engulfs you. Nothing is more impressive than a room that has so much going on aesthetically, that it forces your head to jerk in swivels. This was that.
The first area is their lounge. Its backdrop, a bar the height of which was double that of any regular top shelf. The top tier of this scaffold-like shelving unit was used to showcase clay barrels and glass bottles in artistic display. In a similar fashion, the light fixtures drew your eyes and focus upwards. They were these large blocks suspended in mid air. Cubes that glowed yellow with vines of black creeping up its side, like veins. One after another, they lead up to and sandwiched the fireplace that stood solid in the middle of the room. The cobble faced fire wall was a barricade of glass and stone diving the open dining area into two. From either sides you were able to watch the orange flames dance.
We were led to the heart of the dining room and given a seat in one of their cubicle booths against the right wall. Here a canopy of wood surrounded you, it helped to create the feeling of privacy; a separation between you and your guest and the rest of the diners. And it all overlooked the open kitchen. Chefs in white smocks and matching caps paired with black aprons worked surrounded in stainless steel. I find the ability to watch your meal being prepared with such honestly reassuring, as does it give me confidence in those that are toiling over it.
In addition to the visual aspect of above, I was also most impressed by the individual place setting at each table. The napkins were held in a roll with a fish shaped tag. It was a classy accent that reminded you of which restaurant you were dining at.
We were here to celebrate my guest’s birth, and thought some drinks would be a good start. I asked what their signature cocktail was and was informed that they are all good. But at the same time warned that with some it would be two sips and done. This made the decision making process all the more difficult. There were so many unique mixes across a multi page drink menu. So on our server’s recommendation we had a couple of their “Perfect time” cocktails made with Absolute pear, Plymouth gin, lemon, pear, and cane sugar. It was delicious, and full of sweet pear juice flavour. The real pear slivers as garnish was a nice touch as well.
Our meal started with a basket of Nori (seaweed) and lemon biscuits, served with a side butter. With four total, we each got one of each flavour. I got the saltiness of seaweed, but not its fishy flavour. Though the citrus of the lemon biscuits really came though.
The menu tempted with plenty of seafood options across small plates, dishes created featuring their lobster tank, whole fish, and even three “non fish” options. I was tempted by the bevy of lobster dishes, but at the same time felt it a waste of lobster’s natural flavour when you have it hidden with Mac and cheese with lobster, lobster tacos, lobster meat balls, tempura lobster, or lobster croquettes.
Plus, their “tackle box” special was too good of a deal to pass up. It was like a share platter, it gave you a taste of several popular items, served chilled. You choose either five or seven options out of nine, at $69 or $99. My guest doesn’t eat shellfish so we passed on the oysters and clams. We were more than content with the steam lobster, raw albacore tuna, Wei Wei Kai scallops, steamed Dungeness crab, and poached selva shrimp. It was an awesome collection, but I longed for more in terms of presentation. Maybe a tower or an actual tackle box?
The “steamed lobster” was sweet lobster meat coated in tangy cream, fragrant seasonings, and fresh avocado.
It was just the dip to pair with the bowl of deep fried wonton chips, that accompanied the ice filled casserole dish. They offered a good base with the crunch you craved, having tried each bowl of chilled seafood without it first.
The “steamed Dungeness crab” was just like the lobster above in seasoning and therefore flavour, it too came with mashed avocado. However, the thread-like crab meat offered a different texture.
The “Wei Wei Kai scallops” were not for me. I have never had a raw chunk of scallop like this before, and it’s rubbery texture was not one I enjoyed. Its flavour was bland as well, considering the hint of citrus and the drizzle of thick cream.
I liked the the “poached selva shrimp” and the “raw albacore tuna” the most, as both were the most familiar. The shrimp were some of the largest I have had, and we got five of them in this one portion. Where as at other places I have had less shrimp at a steeper cost. Overall this combination was surprisingly filling without weighing you down.
Seeing as this was a birthday, I sought to order my guest a cake-like dessert and stick a lit candle in it. But nothing tickled our fancy so we asked for the bill. Though instead, our server delighted the birthday girl with a plate of sweets. The kitchen threw what they had together to craft this tasty and visual threat. Chocolate squares and truffles with Passion fruit and chocolate macarons, over a bed of pink chocolate curls and foam-like freeze dried strawberries. It was pretty in pink and fun to eat with your hands. We enjoyed the pink strawberry flavoured chocolate curls the most. We threw them back by the handfuls and they practically melted on your tongue.
Each interaction with our server was a delightful one, he spoke with perfect enunciation, describing food and dink with a convincing passion. He definitely added to the experience with his presence.
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? – Yes.
This was definitely a location that impressed. One that I wouldn’t necessarily go to often, but one that I would often recommend. I suggest “Yew” for a more formal occasion or to curb a longing for all things seafood the right way. Don’t deny your cravings.