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Vivace, #holidaycocktailchallengeyvr

Today we were judging another contestant in the running for the first ever Vancouver Foodster Holiday Drink Challenge.

I have been in the space once before, but it has since been rebranded to better align with the community that Commercial Drive (which they are located in) is known for. This also better leans towards the strengths of the chef and manager.

Currently, this colourful space is best known for their live music, but they hope to receive more attention for their food and bar program, having already won Vancouver Foodster’s latest pasta challenge and now gunning for the holiday cocktail win with their “Vivace Wonder Land”.

And this magical cocktail is what brought me through the door. Half and half, White chocolate liquor, and vanilla vodka. Finished with real whip cream, festive sprinkles, and dusted with white chocolate. This cocktail beckons Christmas, reminding you of a snow capped mountain with its fluffy whipped cream peak. It tastes like a grown up take on cookies and milk for Santa. A creamy drink with nostalgic flavours of warm baking and vanilla. This was best with a dip and nibble of the accompanying chocolate biscuit, after a generous sip. Dessert in a glass, a drink to end the meal on or preferably start the meal with, not to be mixed with food thanks to its bold texture and taste.

And seeing as we were already here, we thought it prudent to try some of their menu items. And honestly this was an exciting menu, a blend of familiar classics, as well as plenty of oddities that kept me curious and wanting to try them all.

They have a substantial bruschetta selection served on house made foccacia. Each order comes with three pieces, so you can’t mix and match and try a few. I was tempted by the “Oceano” with octopus and Yuzu, thought long about the “Agnello” that was sweetbreads (pancreas), and the “ Acqua” with anchovy and garlic warranted consideration.

At the end we decided on “Pollo” for a salty and sweet experience with liver and fig. Rich and creamy, I was just missing something to help brighten up these bites. Here, we pulled the caramelized onions from our bone marrow dish below and it worked wonderfully. I could have also used more fig for an even ratio of liver to sweet contrasting fruit. Without that freshness the paste does ware on and overwhelms.

You don’t see many bone marrow options on many menus, so if given the opportunity, I indulge. Bone marrow with red onion on brioche. As expected it was buttery and rich with gristle that ran down your lips.

The coarse salt and sweet onions allowed for balance and the toasted bread a base to highlight the marrow on. This is one of better conceived bone marrow dishes I have had to date.

For our entree we went the opposite direction with a light Ling cod in red wine with white bean and fennel. This was a completely different flavour profile with the ginger and pronounced citrus notes. It gave me lemongrass and reminded me of Thai cuisine. Great if you like buttery fish, but definitely not my favourite for the texture and the lack of something crunchy to help even it out. The onion was at least firm and the bean filling.

In short, I was very impressed by what little I had and definitely intend to return to discover more of what they offer.

Vivace on The Drive
1728 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4A3
(604) 253-0888

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