Sherman's Food Adventures: Dishcrawl Vancouver (Gastown)

Dishcrawl Vancouver (Gastown)

I remember a time when one wanted to visit more than one restaurant a day would required going out for breakfast, lunch, dinner and possibly dessert.  Yes, that would be a quite an undertaking and an expensive one at that.  However, in the past few years, the food tour industry has experienced a boom of sorts with many to choose from.  There are a wide range of tours that cost upwards of a few hundred dollars and as low as under $30.00.  Depending on your expectations, each and every one has something to offer.  However, with anything, the more you pay, the more likely there will be better food and possibly higher-end restaurants.  Recently, I was invited to give Dishcrawl a go with their 4-restaurant tour for $60.00.  At this price, Dishcrawls falls into the "in-between" category of food tours in the city.  Personally, I believe this is a reasonable price whereas anything over $100.00 begins to overlap into the fine-dining tasting menu options.

Unlike some of the other food tours, the Dishcrawl lineup of restaurants were kept secret up until a few days before.  I was notified to meetup at Catch 122 as the starting point of the tour.  Joining me on this food adventure were Diana and Janice.  Our first course consisted of Chicken Chicken Cordon Bleu, Portobello Wild Mushroom Risotto & Beef Bourguignon. Although it looked pale and lifeless, the chicken was actually quite juicy and flavourful.  The saltiness of the bacon (substituting for ham) penetrated into the meat.  Rather than Swiss, there was a blue cheese cream sauce which was subtle, yet effective.  I found the risotto to be inconsistent where some grains of rice were perfect while some were overcooked.  However, cooking such a large batch of risotto can be tough.  So I'll cut them some slack.  It was creamy, thick and Earthy though.  As for the Bourguignon, it was rich with a noticeable red wine flavour which was not sharp nor bitter.  The beef was moist while all the other components were texturally on point.  This was a good start to our crawl.  After about 45 minutes, we left for our next stop which was Terracotta Modern Chinese Cuisine.  There, we were served a Veggie Spring Roll, Crispy Fried Beans & Prawn Wonton Soup. Although the spring roll was crispy with a boatload of crisp veggies, it was really greasy.  Too bad really because it tasted quite good with the essence of sweet vegetables.  The tempura beans were indeed crunchy, yet were curiously bland.  As for the wonton soup, it was pretty good.  The prawns in the wontons had a good snap while exhibiting a natural sweetness.  The soup was a tad salty, but wasn't a deal-breaker.
Moving onto our next stop, Brioche, we were welcomed by the owner, Eduardo.  In terms of quantity, Brioche had the largest plate of food consisting of Tortellini with Salsciccia, Pesto Penne with Seafood and Fusilli with Wild Porcini Mushroom Sauce. The tortellini was slightly soft while the sausage afforded some spice and lots of meatiness to the dish.  The sauce was creamy and clung to each tortellini nicely.  The pesto penne was alright, but I didn't get much in the way of herbiness nor seafood as the flavours were flat.  On the other hand, the fusilli had a noticeable hit of flavour, in a salty kind of way.  Even with that, the mushrooms were there and I could certainly taste them.  There was just the right amount of creamy sauce to coat the pasta.  This plate of pasta could've been enough for dinner if you weren't a big eater.

Our last restaurant was somewhat of a surprise as I would've never expected Nuba to be our dessert stop.  We were presented with 3 items including Rosemary Mascarpone Mousse, Chocolate Quinoa Cake & Pistachio Mamoul. Right off the bat, I went for the quinoa cake first as it was gluten-free.  I'm always curious how these things turn out and surprisingly, it rocked.  There was a slight crunch with a soft and chocolaty middle.  It was warm and semi-sweet.  I found the marscapone mousse to be smooth and only slightly sweet while the mamoul was not my cup of tea.  It was quite sweet while the texture was dry and crumbly.  The texture didn't really bother me but the sweetness did.  At the end, I was full and satisfied with the Dishcrawl.  I personally think it is more of a social event that has food to go with it.  So to judge it solely on the eats would be nonrepresentational.  If we look at it as a complete event, I think $60.00 is fair.

The Good:
- Reasonable pricing
- Novelty effect
- If you like socializing

The Bad:
- A bit rushed at times, but not that bad compared to other food tours
- Don't expect the food to be completely representational, it's a sampling social event after all