On this adventure we discovered a new music forward bar, paying homage the Kitsilano neighbourhood and Vancouver’s Bohemians haydays of the 70’s.
Their name actually comes from a local band that was popular in that era. And said band has actually visited Painted Ship bar/restaurant, loving it and being honoured by the mention.
The resto-bar serves a surprising Mexican menu that is aptly described as being bold and explosive with its Chef’s unique perspective and spicy flavours. But you wouldn’t expect such a menu by looking at the decor. Retro patterned upholstered chairs, lamp shades over lighting fixtures, vintage speakers turned into side tables, and a showcase of various records over a fireplace mantle set the scene.
I in particular liked the bold bar with orange and reds of a large cruise liner coming to harbour, as a young woman plays her guitar by the shore.
We grabbed a table by the front, to be able to feed off the rowdier energy of the patrons occupying the patio bar. on a hot summer day this is the place to be.
We started with their cocktails, prepared with a similar bold approach as the food to come.
The Horchata Colada is everyone’s favourite sweet milky beverage, but spiked with rum-bar silver, Blue Chair Bay coconut rum, housemade pineapple horchata, and lime. You can get it non-alcoholic as well for a more classic approach.
The Margarita Tultepec is 1800 Blanco Tequila, agavero, Aperol, and hibiscus. This was strong all around. All the flavours fighting for supremacy and against the salted rim. Sadly, a little too much for my tastes.
The Volcan Picante was not as spicy as advertised and hoped for. Chilli vodka, Quadruple Sec, housemade Passionfruit syrup, lime, and an egg white froth. Once again the salted rim made this one a little too much. More savoury than sweet, I would have preferred it more Passionfruit forward.
In hindsight I should have ordered a tequila, mezcal, and sotol flight because you don’t see that often. Plus I found the cocktails above just as bold as the plates below and there was no reprieve or breath of fresh air to punctuate the meal. Therefore would suggest having a cocktail as is to start and get your palate acclimated. But when it comes time to eat, it is best to accompany your food with a light beer and/or dry white wine at most.
Speaking of food, everything is tapas styles and meant for sharing, with of the most stunning presentations. Sharing is a wise idea as I found everything overwhelming and too much as a whole dish for one. In fact I wish there was some bread, chips, or rice to tone it all down and pull it all together.
This is the Tultepec menu by Chef Christian Chaumont of Cuchillo and Mount Pleasant Vintage fame. He has come on as a partner for this concept, bringing his unique menu with him.
We started with the Argentinian red prawn and passion fruit ceviche with Jicama & Lemongrass Tiger’s Milk, and Macerated Ancho chili Strawberries. It doesn’t feel like a ceviche, especially given the use chilli oil. It hits different, but at the same time works all together for a great and unique twist on a classic. This was a fresh start to get the appetite going.
The Chilli oil Persian cucumber salad had the cucumbers spiralled and sitting in a pool of Fried Hominy Corn and Pozole Hummus. I liked the texture of the cucumber, cut up like paper dolls: thinly sliced and all connected together. I just wished there were chips to have with the hummus, or more cucumber left undressed, as the dip and sauces overwhelmed the vegetable.
The Guacamole Kosho was a vegan dish with plenty of chips for the mashed avocados seasoned with Fermented citrus peel and topped with Crispy Lotus Root. I liked how thick the Tultepec Tortilla Chips were, each dense enough to get plenty of guacamole without it snapping. The fried taro added a softer kind of crisp and the guacamole itself was fresh with plenty of citrus.
We tried their top tacos in a platter of three. The Yucatan Battered Fish Taco had a filling of herb slaw, guacamole, Chipotle aioli, and crispy vermicelli. Sadly the fish came out soft and mashed, salty with no depth and mostly guacamole in the first bite.
The Pork Rib Carnitas Taco had a filling of confit spareribs, hibiscus glaze, tomatillo pico, and refried black beans. This had a predominately Asian flavour, salty with soy and hoisin. I would have liked more tomatillo to balance things out with its freshness.
The best out of the three was the Fried Chicken Katsu Al Pastor Taco. This one featured their Sunday Picnic Gujillo Corn Slaw and Sesame Caramelized Pineapple Pico. This faintly reminded me of sweet and sour pork. The breading was starchy and had a great crispy texture. The slaw was refreshing and fun. I especially liked how the vegetable were diced so finely.
The Smoked Binghotan Cauliflower was dressed in a Chipotle walnut Chili oil, with a Roasted Poblano Pepper Coconut Cashew Cream. Another dish that I found too salty to have much of without chips or rice; bread and/or carbs, something plain to hold the flavour and allow me to grasp some of the intended smokiness in the dish.
The best dish was the Oceanwise Grilled Fire Prawns and Veracruz Chilpachole sauce with a Fennel & Mint salad and Arbol blistered tomatoes. Sadly the original presentation masked the beauty of the feature protein (so I edited it). The shrimp was well charred and yet still juicy and tender. Best taken with a generous bite of the herb salad that helped to diffuse some of the over salting.
The 10oz Ribeye Aguachile was dressed in and Soy/Citrus Umani Sauce and accompanied by Avocado, Pickled Shallot, and Fermented Serrano. The steak was cooked medium rare as requested, and the meat was tender. I liked how in keeping with the tapas theme, it was sliced up for easier sharing. Although unfortunately, like everything else, I too found this too salty, it needed the avocado as a fresh agent, but unfortunately it was even more saltier than the beef.
In retrospect I should have drank a lot more as I think the food was catered towards heavy drinks and those with a beer in hand. Bold and big flavours was an understatement, I drowned in the salt. Although looking around the room no one else seemed to have any issue. And I actually doggy bagged the leftovers to share and they found the food amazing. Therefore I will chalk this up to personal preference, and invite everyone to try the food and drink for themselves and tell me what you think.
The Painted Ship
2884 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6K 2G6