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Dine Out Vancouver Preview, ARC Restaurant

I have been blogging and writing about Vancouver’s food, drinks, and going ons long enough to remember Dine Out during its inception, in 2002. It started out as a way to make fine dining more approachable with set menus (similar to what we have today) from $35 to $45 for 3 courses of your choosing.
Since then, registration has opened to all restaurants and even some bars. And it has expanded to include events involving food with more than just trying it. It gets folks out past the holiday season and travellers into Vancouver during the 2.5 week span.

This year there are now over 350 restaurants participating with 50 being new to Dine Out, and 25 of them Michelin recommended.

The set menus vary from $20-65 per person, plus tip, tax, drink pairings. And on top of sit down dinners you can also sign up for culinary classes, food tours, and take part in the Chef exchange. The latter has Michelin rated Chefs from around the world embarking into Vancouver and teaming up with local Chefs to bring the city something special. There will also be street fairs so that the food trucks can take part as well.

And to encourage out of town traffic and business Air Canada is providing parties interested a 15% discount code for the first 50 bookings from US and across Canada, for those wanting to experience Dine Out. And certain hotels have sweetened the deal with $75 giftcard giveaways for every night booked, up to three.

Tonight we were getting a preview of the occasion with a sneak peek look at what you can expect; over a week before the actual start. Our evening began at Arc, located within the Fairmount Waterfront. This would be the first stop, where we would mix and mingle as a whole, before being divided into mini groups to set out to experience two other Dine Out Vancouver restaurants, as a group of five.

This water adjacent restaurant will be offering two Dine Out Vancouver option. Their 4 course dinner for $55, with the ability to add on wine pairing per course for $35; and their regular weekend “Bottomless Brunch” which will be discounted at $49 per person for the duration of Dine Out. Tonight, our sneak peak would only be sample sizes of their dinner set menu, but I have already made my reservations to return and experience both in its intended entirety.

The evening was set up as sampling stations, with the ability to watch the dishes being prepared by the restaurant’s chefs over portable burners. Not typical of Dine Out, but an experience I would gladly pay for. There is just something so fulsome about watching your food being brought to fruition, and then being able to eat it right after.

We also were able to try the entire drink pairing menu with samples from Quail’s Gate winery.

Their light and effervescent Quails Gate Rose, from Okanagan Valley, BC was paired with the first course. Its citrus notes did well to play off the seafood.

The Quails Gate Riesling, was an easy going white to pair with pasta for the second course.

The Quails Gate Queue was a fuller bodied, but still approachable red served with the steak entree.

And the mildly sweet and creamy Quails Gate Fortified Vintage Foch was the pairing for dessert.

(More tasting notes for each individual wine below, alongside the dish they were paired with.)

And as an extra special treat we got to sample Fairmont Waterfront’s new in-house gin. This is exclusively available through their property, should you stay at their hotel or drink at their bar.

In partnership with Wayward Distillery, located in Courtney, BC Fairmont Waterfront as a Honey Gin to call their own. Prepared with honey harvested from the hotel’s roof top hives, made with pollen gathered by the bees from Stratcona Park, City Hall, Kitsilano Beach, and the Vancouver Aquarium. This is a true definition of locally sourced.

We had the spirit as is, and I found that the flavour of the honey shone through in this dessert-like sipper. As part of cocktail you got more traditional gin botanicals, especially with the use of smoked rosemary as the bouquet.

Guests were invited to explore the room at their leisure. Pausing at food stations and conversing with the restaurant and hotel staff alike.

Once again Arc’s Dine Out Menu is 4 courses, and there is not choice between any of them, but as a result this is well curated and well executed offering, even in a make-shift portable kitchen this evening.

The Cured Chinook Salmon was served with crème fraiche, cucumber, salmon roe, dill, and coriander oil. The fish was sliced excellently, and so buttery in the mouth. This was incredibly delicate and refreshing as a starter, great to help open up the appetite. The additional toppings served to add brightness and textural interest, without deterring from the salmon. Here, we had it very luxe over a block of ice.

The second course is a Cavatelli pasta, handmade in house and tossed with fennel sausage, rapini, and pecorino. The pasta was prepared fairly firm, relying on the sausage for majority of its flavour. A certain delicate-ness of the dish as a whole was brought out through the sweet and crisp Quails Gate Riesling.

The Flat Iron Steak gave you a well balanced bite with truffle butter, potato croquette, chanterelles, and gremolata. The steak a perfect pink, tender enough to contrast the crispy croquette with its whipped smooth centre. The mushrooms added a rich umami feel to the jus, whereas used sparingly the herbed gremolata acted as a nice refresher to change to taste with some acidity . Naturally, only a red like Quails Gate Queue pairing would do. It gave you berry fruit to match the meaty steak, but not so bold that it would out smoke it.

And as an extra treat we got to try their Scallop Rockefeller, one of the three additional courses you can add on for $12 extra, and well worth it. The others being either Beef Tartare or Duck Rillette, but honestly this is the one you want to get.

The Scallop Rockefeller is a whole scallop sourced from Cortez Island, known for their larger and sweeter scallops. It is seared and torched then topped with garlic, parmesan, herbs, and breadcrumbs. A buttery and almost cheesy bite you want to take in one, but is best to savour in bites. The first to taste, the second to appreciate.

And for dessert you have their Bonet, flambéd with Wayward Distillery’s Drunken Hive rum. Similar to their gin in its prominent honey notes. The dessert itself was a deep and dark chocolate cake with amaretti, coffee, rum, chocolate, and crème fraiche gelato. It is no wonder you need such a syrupy and only slightly sweet dessert wine like Quails Gate Fortified Vintage Foch to go with this. This dessert eats like a mousse you really have to work to clean the spoon of it. It is heavily accented by the caramelized spirit for a dessert that isn’t clawingly sweet, but more refined and slightly bitter. This would be well paired with bourbon or scotch as well.

We also got to try a bite of their pistachio cookie that had the texture of a Rice Krispie, with a tart tang from a Passionfruit Centre. In all honestly, this was more my dessert speed.

Once again, this is such a well conceived and executed on menu. You really get your value’s worth with this, given the elevation and premium ingredients coming out from a luxury Fairmont property. At $50 per person you are saving and should spend the difference on the well paired wines and additional courses, to really indulge and get the full experience that this team has orchestrated. I will definitely be recommending this Dine Out Vancouver menu for a classic Province to Plate dinner. So good, that I have already made reservations to return and have the full sit down experience with a girlfriend in days to come.

ARC Restaurant
900 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 3L5
(604) 691-1818

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