I have to say this post is something out-of-the-ordinary for me. I don't recall ever doing a post about any Glowbal restaurant that wasn't on my own time. So, it came as a surprise that I was invited to their sneak peak of their Dine Out Vancouver menus at Italian Kitchen, Black & Blue and Coast. Whatever the case, I was curious and really, I'm not a Glowbal Group hater. Rather, as I've said before, each restaurant needs to be judged on its own merits.
With that in mind, I joined Grace, Sean, Rick and Adrian & Jeremy (along with other media) to sample some of the dishes that each restaurant has to offer during Dine Out Vancouver (from January 17th - February 2nd). We started at Italian Kitchen first where we sampled 2 items from their menu. I tried the Marinated Calamari Salad first. The small strips of squid were chewy, yet not so much that it couldn't be classified as tender. It was mixed with caper berries, pickled chilis, fried chickpeas, red onion and a grainy mustard vinaigrette. Although a touch heavy with the dressing, the flavours were definitely there. I got the slight acidity combined with both sweetness and some lingering heat from the chilis. Next was the Lobster Ravioli which was dressed with lemon cream fennel and lobster salad. The ravioli itself was full of lobster which was naturally sweet, however, the pasta was on the softer side (most likely the result of the time delay from completion to service). I really liked the crunchy fennel which added the necessary texture to the dish. The chunks of lobster didn't hurt matters either. As for the cream sauce, it was definitely rich and well-seasoned.
Next, we headed over to Black & Blue for some more samples including the Josper Grilled Vegetable Napoleon consisting of goat cheese, bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms. Although a touch slimy, I didn't mind it as the veggies maintained a certain texture while being buttery soft. I felt there was just enough peppers for effect without overwhelming the other vegetables. Furthermore, there was a good amount of goat cheese for some gaminess, but not too much. I wasn't enthralled with the Slow Cooked Guinness Braised Short Rib though as it was stringy and mostly dry. On the other hand, it did taste good with a meatiness and adequate salt content. The accompanying applewood smoked cheddar spatzle was appealingly chewy with a nice hint of smoke and salt. Since we were served full portions of all the dishes available in the DOV menu, I was able to grab a piece of the Whole Roasted Trout as well. Depending on the part of the fish, it ranged from moist to a touch dry. I felt the fish itself was not seasoned enough while the lobster bisque sauce on the side was creamy and mild. The potato croquette was good though with a nice crunch.
Our last stop was at Coast where we were presented with all of the plates. I was able to sample the Dungeness Crab & Sun Choke Chowder. It was pretty rich and thick where it was flavoured with white miso and sake to go along with crab tomalley, mussels, clams, potato and carrots. I found that the sake was more evident than the seafood flavour, however, if a spoonful contained a clam, there was balance. Next, I had some of the Spanish Mussels & Frites with chorizo safrito, feta cheese and san marzano tomatoes. The mussels were buttery and cooked just right while the chorizo safrito provided the necessary saltiness and fat. Naturally, the tomatoes added sweetness and acidity. I liked the flavours, but there was a touch too much of the safrito. Then we were presented with the Salmon Two Ways consisting of Olive Crusted Salmon with pea-basil puree and prawn & bacon croquette complimented by the Roasted Salmon with truffled cauliflower puree and wild mushrooms. I found the salmon a bit firmer than I would've liked, yet the cauliflower puree was woodsy and downright tasty. Good thing too as the salmon needed the seasoning. For the other salmon, I liked the olive crust, but I would've preferred more of it. The croquette was crunchy and full of bacon flavour.
For dessert, we were presented with a platter containing each and every one of the available desserts from the 3 DOV menus. Although the Maple Roasted Apple Panna Cotta was firmer than I normally like, I kept eating it because the sweet apples were quite good. I found the B&B Carrot Cake to be rather sweet, especially from the cream cheese. Despite being a bit dry, the Coconut & Ginger Macaron had a nice zip from the ginger. Lastly, the Sugar Coated Taiyaki (the candied puff pastry fish) was light and airy, yet suffered from a lack of impact from the fillings. Overall, the food I tried at all 3 restaurants was pretty much what I had expected. Similar to my past visits to these restaurants, the food can be classified as safe and predictable. I believe that the $28.00 Italian Kitchen DOV menu to be the best value of the 3.
*Note - this was an invited dinner where all food was comped