Invites to any tastings outside the city of Vancouver proper can be a bit dicey. First, there is the travel aspect where gas ain't exactly cheap. Second, to get someone to actually join me for such a food adventure can be challenging. Before I can even get the words "Surrey or Langely" out of my mouth, the phone line goes dead or I get don't get a text reply. Where's the love for the 'burbs??? Fortunately, Sexy Mexi was all game since she actually lives out there. With new ownership and chef, we visited Sabatino's for a South Surrey tasting.
Arriving at the table first was an amuse bouche (Gamberi Napoli) which was a tiger prawn flambeed in Pernod with garlic, grape tomato, onion and basil. The prawn exhibited a meaty, buttery snap with some chew. For the amount of ingredients, the flavours were surprisingly muted as I could only get hints of basil and garlic. This probably could've done with more salt and a touch of acidity. Next up was the Barbabietola Arrosto consisting of roasted beets, goat cheese, roasted walnuts and spinach with dill vinaigrette. For me, I really got the goat cheese in every bite. The beets were tender and sweet while the dressing was a bit too greasy. I know this might be nit-picking, but the plating could've been neater on this one.
Moving onto the pastas, we got sample sizes of the Spaghetti Carbonara and Ravioli Aragosta. Comprised of prosciutto, free-run egg yolk and Grana Padano, the carbonara was not lacking in flavour. In fact, with so much crispy prosciutto, it was bordering on salty. As much as the sauce enveloped each strand of spaghetti, there could've been more of it as it took on elements of greasiness rather than creamy. In a complete contrast, the ravioli consisting of lobster and crab in a tomato basilico was fresh, tart and acidic. In fact, the plethora of firm onions helped masked the flavours of the delicate crab and lobster. The ravioli itself was pretty good with soft (while not overdone) pasta encasing a fluffy, sweet centre.
With the mains, Sexy Mexi and I shared both the Brasato al Valpolicella and Duo d'Anatra. For the brasato or Two Rivers beef short rib with red wine jus, it was masterfully braised. The meat was gelatinous, moist and melted in my mouth. It had a natural meaty flavour accented by the fat, but as much as I could sense the Chianti braising liquid, there was a lack of seasoning. As for the mash and veggies, they were on point. Despite the light colour, the duck leg confit was prepared nicely. Underneath the crisp skin was fall-off-the-bone moist duck meat. As for the pan-roasted duck breast, the skin could've been rendered more, yet the meat itself was sufficiently tender. It was accompanied by a cherry demi glace which was not as sweet as it looked.
For dessert, I sampled the Tiramisu first and it was light & fluffy. It was only semi-sweet with a mild coffee taste. In fact, I got much more chocolate than coffee. Next, the Frangelico & Chocolate Cheesecake was rich and smooth. Without a complete reliance on sugar, there was huge flavour from the Frangelico (hazelnut liquor) without a huge alcoholic aftertaste. The biscotto crust was crumbly and nice compliment to the dense cake. Overall, the meal had its hit and misses. The mains and dessert were pretty good while the pastas could've used some tweaks. Furthermore, some of the seasoning could've also been more aggressive.
*All food, drinks and gratuities were comped*
- Proteins done nicely
- The cocktails we had were good
- Spacious dining space
- Some seasoning issues
- Some flavours out-of-balance