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Riley’s Fish & Steak, brunch

Coming out of the convention centre, we were in search of a full meal, not being able to fill up on samples before. I have yet to visit the new seafood and steakhouse in the area, so we thought to go today to suss out their brunch in the meanwhile.

The exterior of the restaurant is eye-catching in green and gold: green foliage surrounding the gold lettering of the restaurant’s name. This colour theme matched the motif within as well, as lighting features and feature walls were adorned with abundant greenery and their dining room chairs were draped in moss green upholstery.

We walked in this Saturday to learn that they have live music over the weekends. Today we had a guitarist put his spin on Top 40 favourites. He played within the dining area, adjacent to the bar, where all diners were seated in their covered and heated atrium.

I liked the look of this outdoor-indoor space with its vaulted ceilings covered in dripping vines and white blossoms, surrounding caged chandeliers. It gave you the feeling of opulence and an whimsy, matching that of other Glowbal family restaurants.

We started off with a couple of their brunch time drink offerings. My guest was drawn to their Mojito Mimosa, stating she would get more alcohol bang for her buck with this one. Bacardi white rum, lime, orange, mint, and prosecco.

I went for their Riley’s Caesar, to see how my favourite cocktail stacked up here. Ketel one vodka, clamato juice, pickle juice, celery, olive, caramelized bacon, and a house rim is what the menu listed the drink as. However, what came to the table was noticeably different. Two pickled green beans, a spicy pepper, and a wedge of lime. This drank like a spicy but basic Caesar, all tomato and no clam. I didn’t make out the tang of the pickle juice nor did I get to enjoy the promised caramelized bacon, celery, or olive.

I opted in for the add on of an oyster, also strongly considering the other option of shrimp as well. Given that this was advertised at the bottom of the drinks section, you would think the add-on would be incorporated into the drink as a garnish. Instead, the oyster came much later and was served as is in its own sauce dish. I would later build the presentation to what I thought it should be for a $3 add on. Although in hindsight, considering how much liquid was left pooled within the shell and how many little broken bits I got out of my slurp, and then the choking hazard this could have caused, I am glad it was set aside.

Our meal began with a wonderful surprise, an amuse bouche of a pastry stuffed with cream. The server who delivered it said nothing of what it was, and as we didn’t order it, I had to speak up and ask what questions. She described it as not being dessert, but sweet with a lemon filling. I would better describe it as a cream puff with a vanilla-based custard cream filling. Not so much an aperitif, this would have been better as an accompaniment to our bill, a sweet treat after we had consumed all our savoury dishes to follow.

Reading the title, both my guest and I wanted to try the Bone Marrow Scrambled Eggs featuring a grilled bone marrow with a side of fingerling potato and confit tomatoes, topped with shaved foie gras. Scrapping cleans the bone marrow, I found it un-typically and suspiciously clean. More so how fully formed the marrow centre ate as a gelatinous mound. It had me considering that the bones may have been pre-scrapped by the kitchen, and the inners reworked, before being outfitted back into the bone and grilled to order.

It did not eat as rich and as oily as I know marrow to be. No gristle and oil residue on your lips, no gamey meaty flavour. As a result, the sumptuousness I expected from this dish was not there. I had a similar issue with the foie gras, seeing how whisper thin the slices of it was. Melted brown pools over the sunshine yellow eggs, visible but you couldn’t taste any its decadent richness. This was more so a potato dish than eggs or marrow given the ratio or perfectly prepared side potatoes to the titled mains. Even more so as there were only 3 confit tomatoes presented with stems still on. As a whole this fell short and was lack lustre for the price and promise of fanciest scrambled eggs ever.

The Lobster Benny also caught our eye as a bougie brunch option. However, we were confused by our server giving us the option of how we wanted our eggs, this was done with the scrabble above as well, which we stated that we wanted the dish as intended. The result, we originally got our Eggs Benny with sunny side up yolks. Having clarified our order, it was brought back to the kitchen where they were discarded and replaced with the as expected soft poached eggs.

Lobster Benny with ½ a roasted lobster, 2 poached eggs, hollandaise, a scallion potato skillet, spinach, and baby kale salad. We weren’t expecting potato as a base for an Eggs Benedict, and instead longed for the typical English muffin or toasted bread; something a lot more substantial. As is, this was more a lobster and egg breakfast platter. Nothing was really stacked like a sandwich, and you picked and ate what you wanted, as you found it spread out across your plate.

The lobster was prepared well, plenty of meat to gouge from shell, and the potatoes had a great crisp to them, with luscious layers of classic buttery hollandaise to bring bot together. The side salad offered gaps of freshness with acrid bits. Although overall, this too didn’t quite measure up to the expectations we had for this finer dining restaurant walking in, and the asking price for such done up plates.

Not on the brunch menu, but something that caught my guest’s eye was Riley’s Steamers. Half a pound of mussels, clams or both served with chimichurri bread in one of three types of broth. We went for their Spanish option as neither of us had tried it prior to today. This was a mix of chorizo sausage, fennel, and cherry tomatoes in a saffron broth. The result was a very salty pot. You helped yourself picking meat from shell and dipping hard and oily crusty bread into a rich broth. Nothing new and nothing that measured to the 2 dishes above.

I think I went it with my expectations a lot higher given the prestige of the brand and the setting that engulfed us. And as a result, I was left disappointed by what I was willing to spend more than usual for. Sadly this daytime experience does not have me looking forward to an evening of fish and steak in the future.

Riley’s Fish & Steak
200 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 3L6, Canada

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