My birthday again eh? Geez, how come it just seemed like yesterday I was 20??? Well, I think maturity-wise, I could get away with it, but not physically... I think my knees and back tell me that after each hockey game. So where to eat, in particular, with the whole family including kids and grandparents? 5 Sails? Nope, not really kid-friendly. West? Ditto. Man, I really wanted a nice meal, without needing to settle for a mediocre kid-friendly hotel restaurant (however, some of them can be really nice). After humming and hawing for about a week, I finally decided on CinCin. Hey, they have pasta on the menu. The kids would eat that, or at least I hoped so. Better than trying to sell them on sweet breads or foie gras...
Interestingly enough, there were many, many kids and families the night we went, which made for a boisterous atmosphere. My kids were pretty quiet, so they just blended into the background, which made for an uneventful dinner (score!). Since it was my birthday, I was given the task of selecting our dishes. Wait, don't I do that already even if it wasn't my birthday? LOL... Taking the advice of our server, we shared 2 appies including the Salumi Misti consisting of prosciutto di San Daniele, capocollo, finocchiona and black truffle salami served with crostini. Naturally, the wood block of meats could be considered a simple appetizer, but it was tasty nonetheless. I particularly enjoyed the black truffle salami as the woodsiness was really impactful. I found the capacollo to be just spicy enough while the finocchiona was nicely accented by the fennel. For our second appie, the Calamari ai Ferri con Peperoncini (Humboldt County giant pacific neon flying squid, chili, arugula, romano beans lemon and olive oil) was fantastic. The large pieces of squid were nicely prepared being super tender while exhibiting a hint of smokiness from being grilled. The red pepper vinaigrette added just the right amount of acidity and sweetness that didn't overwhelm the squid.
We also shared 2 full-sized pastas as part of our appetizers as well. The first one I tried was the Gnocchi di Ricotta con Funghi consisting of hand rolled ricotta gnocchi with black trumpet and chanterelle mushrooms thyme and truffle boschetto. I really liked the texture of the ghocchi as it was soft and almost fluffy without being too airy. There was still a bite and body to the pasta. One small personal preference would be that the gnocchi could've been a bit bigger in size. As for the sauce, I liked the combination of mushrooms as they added the usual woodsy flavours without being overpowering. I found the dish to be flavourful bordering on salty. Without a doubt, our second pasta was going to be the Risotto di Aragosta with organic acquerello carnaroli, lobster, sunchokes and truffle vinaigrette. Risotto is a difficult dish to make properly and they did a good job here. The rice was just cooked maintaining a bite while there was a nice level of creaminess. I particularly liked the chives as they added some herbiness as well as a brightness to an otherwise heavy dish.
For our mains, I went with the Pancetta di Maiale which was crisp pork belly with Florence fennel, grilled red kuri squash, young carrots, maple vinegar, honey, mustard and hazelnuts. I really liked this dish as the pork belly was meaty and had just enough fat for texture and moisture. The pork itself was not exactly melt-in-my-mouth, but I liked how there was more meat than fat. The skin was an aesthetically pleasing golden brown which was also crunchy and airy. The honey mustard along with the maple vinegar was sweet but also afforded a necessary acidity to cut through the richness of the pork belly. My mom ended up with the Peposo consisting of Tuscan style braised beef short rib, black pepper, red wine and tomato with cannellini beans. This was a substantial amount of moist and tender meat which was fatty (but made it tasty). There was quite a good amount of black pepper which was prominent, yet did not overwhelm the rest of the tart flavours. The relatively plain beans were a nice blank canvas for the plethora of sauce. On the other hand, there might've been a bit too much sauce, which again, bordered on salty.
My dad went for the feature item of the day being the Petto d'anatra with polenta, braised red cabbage and raisin balsamic reduction. The duck was cooked a nice medium while the skin was golden brown. I liked the duck, but would've preferred to see the fat rendered a bit more as well as the skin being less chewy. I loved the polenta as it was of a good consistency and soaked up the flavourful sauce. Viv opted for the Filetto di Carbonaro which was a roast fillet of sablefish from the Haida Gwaii, cipollini onions, mashed sieglinde potatoes with olive oil, braised kale and mushroom essence. The fish was roasted beautifully being flaky, moist and flavouful. The mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy while the kale was "interesting". For the kiddies, they shared an order of the Rigatoni alla Bolognese. This was essentially fresh pasta tossed in a bolognese sauce and Parmesan. The pasta was probably prepared softer for the kiddies (or maybe not?). Anyways, the meat sauce was fantastic. It was rich, flavourful and well, meaty. As a side, we got an order of their mushrooms which was not really a big enough portion to share (I guess we should've got 2?). It was good though with plenty of seasoning and nicely cooked mushrooms).
For dessert, my parents shared the Lemon Tart topped with a coconut panna cotta and coconut tuile. The tart shell was quite firm, which I personally prefer while the lemon curd was tart and rather sweet. The panna cotta had a mild coconut essence and overall this was a decent dessert. For myself, I went for the Duomo which was dark chocolate mousse and orange cream encased in dark chocolate accented by hazelnut crunch, candied rind and raspberry sauce. I liked this dessert as it had an interesting preparation as well as complimentary flavours. The mousse was smooth and rich while maintaining a lightness to it. The orange was not a bystander as it really announced itself. The candied rind as well as the raspberry both added sweetness and tartness which brightened up the flavours. Viv decided to go simple with the Sorbetti consisting of Apple, Raspberry and Pear. These were pretty good with the pear being my favourite. I found them to be pretty sweet, but it was a nice finish to a relatively heavy meal. Lastly, we were presented with some jellies and walnut cookies at the very end along with the bill. Oh and about that bill... Ah yes, this kind of dining comes at a price. If we ignored the prices, the meal as a whole was pretty good. Was it worth it? Naturally, that depends on your spending threshold. For us, it would be an indulgence only experienced once in awhile.
- Uniformly on point execution
- Generally tasty food
- Attentive service
- A bit loud if you care for more quiet surroundings
- A bit aggressive with the salt