Generally, taking kids along to a fine-dining establishment is akin to going for a spin in the Crystal Mall parking lot. Both are equally painful and might involve a lot of crying. So with that in mind, it is challenge to bring the whole family out for a nice dinner. After all, if the grandparents are at the same meal, who takes care of the kids? So what we are ultimately left with are certain chain restaurants. However, those places charge essentially the same price as many of the so called "fine dining" spots. So what do we have if we eliminate the chain restaurants? Simple. Those restaurants found in hotels. These "need-to-be-there" establishments are meant to merely offer safe, mediocre food for weary travelers who may or may not have children. Wait a second. That could be a thing of the past. It is increasingly clear that hotel restaurants are realizing that stigma is not very conducive in attracting the locals. Hence, we see hotel restaurants investing in talented chefs and allowing them to be creative. We can definitely see this at The Apron and more recently at H5O on my visit to Portland. Another place that certainly has potential is EBO at the Delta Burnaby Hotel. We had a good meal here over a year ago. The food was surprising and the kids were not only welcomed, they ate for free!
Remembering that fact, we all decided to head out for a return visit with the whole family. Apparently, it was food blogger/writer night as Vanfoodster and Alfie Lau (Burnaby Now) were both in the house as well. Seeing how many of the available items were not conducive for sharing, we settled for the Calamari as described on the menu - Crisp Lemon Fried Squid, Fresh Coriander and Chili Dip, Scallions. I'm not trying to diss fried calamari; however, for me at least, it seems like a relatively common menu item. As such, it didn't necessarily elicit any "wows". Don't get me wrong, it was still a very solid dish. The squid was a pleasing texture that had a snap while being easy to chew. The crisp lemon & peppery exterior was also very appetizing. I found the chili dip a bit weak though. It was neither spicy nor that flavourful. Our second appie was a "retry" of the Crab Cakes (Bonito Crusted Belle River Rock Crab, Chili Bean Aioli, Cabbage Slaw, Sweet Soya). We had them the last time we were here. They were good; but the one thing I remembered about them was a comment left by a reader indicating that they looked more like "balls" than cakes. Well, I'm happy to report they looked very much like cakes this time around. We liked how much crab there was in each cake. Not too much filler here. We definitely could taste the natural sweetness of the crab; yet it was slightly on the drier side (need more filler?). The Asian influences with the sauce and slaw really complimented the crab cakes and didn't overwhelm.
Normally, I'm not a huge fan of ordering chicken in a restaurant. There are several reasons for this including the most important - the chicken in Canada is bland. Due to the regulations we have here, the chicken loses much of it's natural flavour from processing. Do you ever noticed that our chicken is paler than the ones you can get almost everywhere else? Anyways, our server talked me into trying the Roast Chicken (Twice Cooked Free-Range Breast, Pancetta and Spinach Risotto, Fresh Lemon and Herbs). You know what? That wasn't a bad decision. Once again, it wasn't a wow dish per se; but it was very, very good. The chicken breast was juicy and moist with an appealing crisp exterior. Unlike many chicken dishes out there, this was properly seasoned. Every bite had flavour (and not of the salty kind either). As for the risotto, it was creamy and bursting with flavour thanks to the pancetta. It was just a smidgen past al dente.
My mom ended up with the Bacon-Wrapped Scallops served atop Risotto with Lobster Reduction. To some, this would sound like an item easily purchased from M & M; however, the way they prepared it here was anything but. Consisting of 4 giant scallops wrapped into a "steak", it was cooked together. That resulted in the bacon having less affect on the scallops. Otherwise, the saltiness of the bacon could overwhelm the delicate scallops. As you can clearly see in the picture, there was a significant sear on the scallops and the bacon for all that matter. With such caramelization, there was a pronounced smokey flavour and resulting salty-sweet thing going on. This was perfect though since I can't stand chewy undercooked bacon. Moreover, the scallops were barely cooked on the inside which was the best of both worlds. As with the risotto in my dish, the one here was creamy and just a tad overdone. My dad had the Sablefish with Linguine Nero, Smoked Sockeye Salmon, Green Peas, Cauliflower &
Horseradish Velouté. He raved about how well the fish was prepared. I took a sample and it was very good. The crispiness of the exterior was an excellent contrast to the buttery flesh. I really liked the squid ink linguine because it was both al dente and interesting to look at. Yes, I admit it, black pasta has a certain visual appeal to it. We found the horseradish veloute to be very mild, which did not interfere with the delicate protein. The smoked salmon provided the saltiness for the dish.
During the Foodie Feast, Viv didn't get a chance to try the signature Tuna (Rare Rice-Crusted Albacore Tuna Steak, Avocado Purée, Asparagus with Serrano Ham, Chili Gastrique) from the EBO table. Thus, she had no choice but to order it this time around. Whimsically plated, the food on the plate is more substantial than it looks. I've had it before and it was more than enough food for me. What really makes the dish is the protein. The tuna could not be prepared more perfectly. Rare in the middle with only a narrow ring of cooked crispiness, it is a textural delight. The avocado puree does not compete with the delicate tuna; rather, it is merely there to compliment. Add in saltiness of the Serrano ham and crunchy asparagus, you have a wonderful plate of food. Their best dish here by far.
Now why were we here in the first place? Oh yeah, the kids! My daughter had the Penne Pasta with a side of fries. Well, it was slightly pass al dente pasta with tomato sauce. I'm sure they cooked it a bit more for the kiddies. She seemed to like it. For my son, once again he had the Grilled Cheese. And yes, it's a grilled cheese. I have nothing more to say about that. Then came dessert. Yes really, a lot of dessert actually. Originally, Viv was the only one having dessert (and the kids, their meals included dessert); but Chef Dan Craig was generous enough to offer up desserts for everyone. My son had the Chocolate Brownie and if you notice, his dessert was plated like an adult serving. I love how they don't merely dump a dessert on the plate for the kids. They actually put effort into it. For my daughter, she just had strawberry yogurt (it looked nice though!). For the adults, we started with the Pistachio & Chocolate Creme Brulee. This was really good. Pistachios and anything sweet just seem to go really well. The salty, nuttiness of the pistachios both accented and heighten the sweetness of the custard (which was silky and not overly sweet). Only thing I would've liked was a bit more torching with the sugar crust.
Next, we had the Classic New York Cheesecake with Chocolate Garnish, Cassis Fruit Pate & Mango Ice Cream. This was a well-prepared baked cheesecake. Not too dense nor sweet, it was not a burden to eat. The texture was silky smooth and we liked the side of mango ice cream which was a refreshing change of pace to the cheesecake. As described, the Cherry Financier Cake sounded great; however, this was probably our least favourite. Nothing inherently terrible about it really, it just didn't fit our fancy. The cake itself was not too sweet and the burst of cherries inside was a nice treat. We weren't that fond of the texture which was on the denser side. Hey, that is probably the right texture too. Chalk it up to personal preference. For Viv, she didn't see the connection between the orange goat cheese yogurt with the rest of the items. I wasn't sure myself; but I liked it though.
For our last dessert, we got the adult version of the Warm Chocolate Brownie with Tower of Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Hot Chocolate Sauce,
Roasted Chocolate Marshmallow & Peanut Brittle. The star of this dessert was the ice cream. It was smooth, peanutty and surprisingly not incredibly sweet. Again, we thought the whimsical plating to be a plus. So there we have it. Another solid meal here at EBO. I really shouldn't say EBO is good for a hotel restaurant because it is actually good compared to many other restaurants in general. The prices can be considered expensive for Burnaby; but as the ol' adage goes: you get what you pay for. And what you get here is quality food that is carefully prepared served up in a classy environment that is kid-friendly (where the kids eat free). I'm sure that is attractive to families that are aching for a good meal, which really costs the same as visiting Cactus Club (and yes, that means Cactus Club is not cheap either...).
- Well-executed dishes
- Lovely decor
- Not cheap; but it's fair pricing