Today we were at the restaurant of another Vancouver Foodster Negroni challenge contender. And I, as one of the three judges had the duty of trying their take on the classic Italian cocktail and judging it based on presentation, originality, and taste. A total of 40 points, to determine which out of the 5 combatants did it best, in their own style.
The great part about these competitions is that it has me travelling to restaurants and destinations I might not otherwise thinking of trying, and discovering it for myself. That was the case today with Diva at the Met. Located in downtown’s Metropolitan Hotel, this long-standing establishment has held the space and title for as long as I can remember, and have been living in Vancouver. So, it is a wonder that I am only visiting them now. We had an amazing time and will surely recommend them to others for their great service and happy hour menu.
But I digress, we were here to try their Negroni blues first and foremost. This is a limited-edition cocktail made with Empress gin, aperol, bianco vermouth, sugar cube, blueberries, and blueberry bitters. The blue is for the gin and the blueberries featured.
The concept was to create a version of the negroni that isn’t too heavy. One that you need not reserve for drinking after 5pm, but can have for brunch or as a great happy hour transition. It doesn’t immediately read as a negroni as it is lighter, sweeter and more fruit forward with a nod to BC’s blueberries. It delivered on its promise of being easy drinking, and I found that it complimented all of our food to come.
This was tasty enough to have us ordering another cocktail, to see what else our bartender/server had up her sleeve. Described as a cocktail that would personify her, the Raspberry kitten is prepared with raspberry vodka, Chambord, lime, sparking wine, fresh raspberry, lemon juice, and raspberry infused liqueur. It tastes like liquid candy with a tart sour hint and a sweet fruit finish.
As for food, we took a lot of what was recommended to us. Except for the Blistered shishito peppers, because whenever I see this on any menu it is a must order for me. Dressed with bonito, soy sauce, and yuzu aioli; it isn’t spicy, you eat it for its smokey flavour dipped into a creamy garlic sauce. It makes a great pairing to everything else, like the toast below.
Grilled artisan bread with smashed avocado, cascabel, and sliced walnuts. A dressed up avocado toast that came highly recommended by our server. Deconstructed for self-smearing; it was good, but bland compared to everything else we had.
The Baja fish tacos came highly recommended by the restaurant manager. Prepared with chilli aioli, purple green cabbage, pico de gallo, cotija, and house hot sauce. Each tortilla was topped with a generous amount of crispy fried fish and fresh vegetable, plus enough sauce to fully coat and flavour. This was well done, simple and delicious comfort eating.
I really liked the Forest mushroom casarecce with charred asparagus, confit king oyster mushroom, and black truffle mornay sauce. I cannot believe that this is a vegan dish considering how creamy the sauce was. A woody flavour with earthy mushroom and peppery asparagus; their firm textures nicely contrasted with the chewy tender noodle twirls.
And the Seafood linguini with scallops, clams, squid, tiger prawns, Calbrian chilli, and burnt lemon is another great option. The burnt lemon accentuated the assortment of fresh seafood. I could have used more dill for my taste, instead of just as garnish. As it was served, the dish ate clean. Although was best as leftovers after the buttery noodles and luscious seafood soaked in more of the smokey richness of the sauce.
In closing, as this isn’t immediately a restaurant that you think to visit when in the downtown core, they are certainly a hidden gem, despite it being a long standing restaurant. Diva at the Met is a great, easy dining option, with fresh plates with fantastic front-of-house service. A great experience from caring and enthusiastic staff.
DIVA AT THE MET
645 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2Y9