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Brass Fish Tavern, Dine Out 2023

I continue to be impressed with Freehouse collective’s ever-evolving growth. And today’s visit to the Brass Fish Tavernwas no exception. I have not been to this trendy resto-pub prior to tonight, but from what I have heard this was the spot for cheap drinks in the area, with the food as just an afterthought. Although after this visit I hope to help change that impression, because the food is good and worth travelling for, especially for their $50 Dine Out 2023 menu, available from now until February 5th.

Located within one of Vancouver’s historic buildings, the interior is just as interesting as the exterior. The decor includes trees erected and scattered throughout the bar area, and a lounge space with its walls plastered in black and white newsprint with blue and white dinnerware hung over it. But those visual contrasts weren’t even the most eye-catching element. It was the skeleton of a whale hanging overhead, that greeted you by the door.

I visited with a couple of girl friends so that between us 3 we could try the entire 3 appetizer, 3 entree, and 2 desserts offered; plus their drink pairings. I have said it before and I will say it again, always opt in for the Dine Out wine and spirit pairings, when possible. The staff take time to curate their drinks to the dish and I have always found the flavours of each, together, elevate one another. And given Freehouse’s experience with mixology and spirits I expected much more from them, and was not disappointed.

For appetizers your choice is between fish, vegetable, and beef; and honestly, they are all so good. Although, based on my personal preference, and if I could only choose one it would be the Cured tuna tartare. It is not what you expect reading the description of “crunchy rice croutons, sriracha spiced tuna, marinated cucumbers” but it tasted amazing, nonetheless. What I imaged would be thin cuts of lightly dressed fish was a mash of tuna and mostly avocado sitting on a brick of deep-fried sushi rice. It ate like sushi pizza with the fried rice block giving you an amazing crunch and a more bar-friendly snack. With the ginger serving as a palate refresher and after note to end on.

This was paired with the Lock & Worth sauvignon blanc-sémillon from BC. The tart and tangy dry wine did well to highlight this seafood starter with its light and refreshing citrus notes.

My second choice would be the Brussels sprouts & greens with chili pecorino, pickled onions, sourdough crumb. I cannot pass up a crispy sprout, although this serving had more mixed greens as filler. However, all the brussel sprouts we did get were well seasoned with plenty of shaved cheese.

This was paired with the Quails’ Gate rosé, a bright juicy berry wine. Its tart and dry finish was a nice balance to the salty and saucy vegetable.

The Lemongrass cumin beef is the heaviest of the three appetizers and a lot more filling. The chunks of beef are generously marinated in cumin and slow cooked to a tender morsel. They had a familiar Chinese 5 spice quality to them. They were so saucy that they ate more like a stew, warming but not spicy. And instead of chunks of daikon alongside the beef, they were shaved and topped the beef as a texture adding garnish. I would have liked it over rice, but in doing so it would have been removed from the appetizer category.

Naturally, such a bold dish deserves a juicy red. Nichol Young Vines syrah from BC was a great pairing, as the young wine’s red fruit cut into some of the heaviness of the beef with its tannis.

For Mains the choice are between Chicken, Fish, or a Vegetarian pasta. Once again, each tasted amazing, and the decision comes down to personal preference. For me it had to be the stuffed pasta. The Chickpea and truffle agnolotti topped with parmesan fonduta and herbs was fantastic. What looked like meager portions on the plate turned out to be some of the richest stuffed pasta I have had to date. So dense that the smooth and slightly sweet filling coated my mouth, and the sensation of the rich cream sauce made it smile.

And the perfect drink to go with it was the Negroni prepared with Beefeater gin, campari, sweet vermouth, and orange zest. The sweet orange of is classic cocktail balances and gives the dish its breath of fresh air in between bites. It is also nice to see the restaurant showcase the talent of the bar as they incorporate cocktails into their Dine Out menu, thus also offering diners a nice tangent from wine.

For something spicier look to the Grilled peri peri chicken with gem potatoes, asparagus, and radish salad. This was like a less spicy, more refined take on baked Portuguese chicken, coupled with perfectly prepared firm vegetables. Yet another quality dish I would not expect out of this kitchen.

The beer pairing of Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA was the great at balancing out the latent peppery spice of the chicken. On its own it was hoppy and slightly acrid with a tart finish. I was not expecting a beer pairing on any Dine Out menu, so was nice to see the surprise of one here.

The Roasted black cod was the lightest and most lean of the three entree options. A perfectly broiled offering over charred cabbage, miso, and a winter cassoulet. You got a smokey finish on the buttery fish, with just enough tangy tomato jus to soften and coat.

Haywire’s Gamay Noire was the pairing here. This was an easy-going, juicy red fragrant enough to enjoy in glass as is yet muted enough to pair with the gentle fish without obscuring it.

And as you may expect by now, dessert was no easy choice as well. At this point I suggest doing as we did and coming in a group of 3 to be able to have it all. Although out of the 2 I preferred the PB & J parfait, as I am a fiend for anything peanut butter. Served within a glass you dig in and scoop up to get an all-encompassing spoon of hot fudge, vanilla gelato, salted peanuts, tequila berry preserve, and peanut butter creme. This was so satisfying and tasty. With the gooey jelly and the crunch of the chopped nuts adding a mouthful of fantastic textures to melt over.

As for its drink pairing, it is a just as fun Espresso martini. A tasty coffee forward cocktail with a nutty nuance that matches the fragrance of the nuts.

Your second dessert option is the Salted pretzel toffee pudding with caramel and sweet cream. It was served as cold ice cream over warm cake, and like its contrasting temperatures, its sweet and salty notes were in a complimentary contrast as well. A gooey and sticky offering with the occasional crunch from a bit of pretzel.

This was paired with an Old Fashioned mixed with Jim beam bourbon, sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange zest. The refreshing notes of orange complimented the chocolatey sweetness of the cake and is brightened in contrast to the salty finish of the pretzel and caramel. This was a good example of great bedmates.

Overall, this Dine Out menu did exactly what it should have. It got me out to try their discounted menu and after this taste I will definitely be back for more of their regular offerings. Truth be told, this will be my first go-to over some of the more established and pricier options in the area. For food alone, I found them more consistent and at a great value. All our 8 plates were delicious, and I am likely to recommend it all.

Therefore, worth mentioning is that while dining out at Brass Fish, you can sign up for Freehouse Collective’s “The Collective Rewards”. This is a membership rewards card that offers a $5 signing bonus and 5% back on every purchase made at any of the 5 Freehouse Collective restaurants/bars/social houses. as well as Barber & Co., Plain Jane Skin Bar, and Bomber Brewing. Something to further entice the pot.

Brass Fish Tavern
385 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G8, Canada
+1 604-336-9167

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