Tonight, we were given a preview of what we could expect from some of Vancouver’s favourite restaurants, as they launch their limited release 2023 Dine Out Vancouver menus. The event runs from Friday January 20th through to Sunday February 5th 2023, where foodies and would-be diners are encouraged to make reservations and try that restaurant or cafe that they have been eyeing. Visiting for a multiple course set meal, at a discounted price they normally would not get, if visiting outside of the festival.
Our first stop is modern Italian restaurant and wine bar Nox, located in Coal Harbour. A posh spot giving those living and working in the area a restaurant with more somber vibe, as well as a more contemporary option for happy hour.
In order to be able to try all the options for all of their Dine Out courses this evening we would share everything family style. So be warned that what you see in my photos might not be exactly what you get, if and when you visit. Worth mentioning is that Nox also has a great wine program, so I suggest planning your dining experience around adding on each wine/drink pairing per course. I won’t be discussing each wine in detail, but will add on tasting notes as I recall them.
Jumping right into their $48 Italian Dine Out 2023 menu, you have your choice of each course between 3 appetizers, 3 entrees, and 2 dessert. For the appetizers, your choice is dependent on if you want something fresh, comforting, for filling to start.
The Butternut Squash Soup is one of your vegetarian options that can be made gluten-free if you have it just with the pumpkin seed topping and without the shortbread crumble. This is a velvety soup that serves as a great way to warm up the appetite. Sweet yet spicy with a whisper of a curry to finish. This was paired with a similarly sweet white wine.
The Grapefruit Salad is another vegetarian and gluten-free option. Mixed greens, radish, candied walnut, feta cheese, and grapefruit fluid gel with a champagne vinaigrette. This was paired with a nice dry white that was just as tangy and as citrusy as the vinaigrette. The salad itself was well composed, a great balance of tastes and textures to keep your interest from first to last fork-ful. A refreshing appetizer for those who light a lighter start.
I typically gravitate towards a more full-bodied plate, regardless of course. Like the Ham Hock and Parsley Terrine prepared with a Dijon and Calabrian chili gaze, and candied walnuts. It had the look of pate, but with a much more dry and crumbly texture. It did not apply evenly over the side of crostini it was served with. It ate more like a elevated, flakey meatloaf. Texturally, I would have liked it to adhere together more for a smoother mouthfeel. But did appreciate the pockets of gelatinous gel as a pop, surprise. Overall, the terrine was fatty and lush on the lips, a heavier start with a peppery finish and not overly porky. It somehow reminded me of a Christmas dinner. The wine that was paired with it was a full bodied, dry white that did well to accent the mustard and chilli, bringing their flavours more to the forefront.
For your entree options it is a harder choice. Although the Roasted Cauliflower Steak is the vegetarian option, it is still worth consideration, considering how delicious the celeriac purée and olive and walnut tapenade that surrounded it was. Plus, how lovely the burnt lemon finished it all. The cauliflower was cooked perfectly with a delicate char. It was soft enough to break through with your fork, yet it still maintained an enjoyable firm texture to chew through. It was also very considerate of the chefs to add in a little beyond meat crumble for texture, giving the omnivores a textural component, they are more familiar with. But really it was the puree that sold it for me, like a creamy polenta, I could have a bowl of its as is. Glad I got to try this here, as I could not see myself ordering it otherwise. With it we were served a lovely rose with a Provence style creaminess and acidity. This was yet another perfect wine pairing from our sommelier.
If you had to just choose one, the Lamb Neck Agnolotti would get my vote. It combines my love of a meaty morsel within a perfectly prepared pocket of dough, cooked in sage smoked brown butter with a red wine lamb jus reduction. The filling had a unique herbaceous-ness to it, well balanced by the peppery Shiraz red brought out as its pairing.
A close second place entree worth considering is the less commonly seen Braised Oxtail. This is prepared gluten-free with wilted kale, smoked tomato polenta, and agrodolce tomato. This was a well-rounded and very filling dish. There was plenty of meat on the bone of the ox tail, I just would have liked the chunks more tender. A texture more similar to the silken polenta with its saucy bites. With this we were greeted by an expressive biodynamic red, with the hint of cherries to give the red meat a nice tangent.
For dessert we had a lovely sparkling wine to pair with their deconstructed then reconstructed tiramisu. Tiramisu Espresso rum syrup, hazelnut meringue chip, and house made Nutella. This tasted like tiramisu but with new textures. I typically don’t like this classic Italian dessert because of its soft and soggy bites, there is typically no crunch or chew to filter through, just a lot of mush. Therefore, I am a fan of Nox’s interpretation with its meringue crunch and cakey bits, even the malt-like chocolate dusting gave me something palatable to tongue through. All brought together with the expression of espresso and the zest of a lemony spritz.
Nonetheless I would still order the second dessert option, as I am more partial to cheesecake and this one was excellently paired with the unique taste of Vermouth. An aromatized fortified wine flavoured with floral botanicals to give the otherwise dense Basque Cheesecake some new life. Basque Cheesecake with a lime brown sugar short bread crumble, raw mixed berry coulis, whipped cream, and a yuzu fluid gel. The cheesecake was exactly as expected, they nailed its creaminess with a buttery crumble crust. All the extra elements just offered palate refreshment in between rich, sumptuous bites.
And even after all that, we were then treated to a complimentary boozy marshmallow straw. It had a gummy texture that gives you sweet and medical to leave your mouth feeling cleansed.
Worth mentioning is that, although I did point out all your vegetarian options above, you can make it easy for yourself and simply order their Vegetarian Dine Out menu for $40, at $8 less. You start with the soup, move on to the cauliflower steak and still have a choice between either of the two desserts.
In closing, Dine Out continues to be a great way to experience a restaurant at a fraction of the cost. Like an open house, and here at Nox the doors are swung wide. You have from Friday January 20th to Sunday February 5th to take advantage of these limited time only set menus.
1575 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2T1,Canada