For those who read the South Asian Post, you'll notice some of my content has been published in their newspaper. Hence, I received an invite to try out Don Francesco on their behalf. I was all game for the dinner since I've actually never been (to the shock of many). Once again, I must remind everyone that there are a lot of restaurants in Vancouver and really, there will be ones I've never been before. Shocking but true. Since this was mainly a print media event, I was a fish out of water where the only other person I was familiar with was Michelle from the Georgia Straight.
We ended up sitting in a large square table situated in the upscale dining room complete with live entertainment. We were given a choice of appetizer and entree with a dessert trio to follow. Naturally 1 entree was not sufficient for me to make a qualified judgement of the food. Hence, Michelle and I shared our appetizers and mains. To pull a Mijune, I ended up sharing my main with Daniel (from Sing Tao), who was sitting on my other side. We were started with some Ciabatta buns accompanied by butter and olive oil. Nothing out of the ordinary, but a nice start to the meal. For my starter, I had the Beet & Burrata Salad with cranberries, walnuts and watercress. Despite being flown from Italy, the burrata still retained a creamy butteriness with an appealing stringiness. The slices of beet were quite Earthy with a noticeable level of sweetness. The balsamic reduction helped add a touch of acidity, but in the end, the dish was mostly sweet (including the cranberries). I was able to sample the Lobster Bisque which was comprised of lobster meat, tomato stock and creme fraiche. Noticeably thin and lacking in a lobster hit, this was decent bisque if not a bit ordinary. It could've used more creme fraiche and booze (whether it be sherry or cognac).
Onto our mains, I sampled Michelle's Sablefish with Saffron Risotto baked with basil, saffron, lemon juice, white wine, onion, garlic and tomato. This was a winner as the fish was flawlessly prepared. It was moist, flaky and well-seasoned complete with crispy skin. The risotto could've been cheesier, yet each grain of rice retained a bit of chewiness. There was also a nice saffron essence which added to the overall enjoyment of the dish. For myself, I went for the Roasted Rack of Lamb encrusted with rosemary, garlic, Dijon mustard, herbs and pistachios. This was finished with a Parmesan crisp, potatoes and demi-glace. Served a beautiful medium rare, the meat practically needed no effort to chew. It was properly seasoned and the demi-glace was a nice compliment with a sweet red wine hit. Daniel had the Veal Porterhouse rubbed with rosemary, lemon juice and EVOO. This was also served with a demi-glace which enhanced the meat flavour. I found the meat to be a touch more well than I would've liked, however, the meat was buttery soft.
Lastly, for dessert, we were served a trio consisting of Tiramisu, Chocolate Ganache Cake and Creme Brulee. I found the tiramisu to be very rich where the marscapone was more firm than creamy. I did enjoy it as they were light on the sugar and not shy with the espresso and alcohol. As much as I liked the ganache cake, it was very rich and chocolatey. I did notice bits of un-melted chocolate (which I wasn't sure if it was intentional or not). It didn't degrade the dessert though. The creme brulee was well-prepared with a nicely torched thin sugar topping which revealed a creamy semi-sweet custard. From the items I did get to sample, it was well-prepared and food I wanted to eat. Except for the bisque, there was not much that I didn't enjoy.
*Note - this was an invited dinner where all food was comped
- For fine dining, portion size was good
- Well-prepared proteins
- Upscale feel