Sherman's Food Adventures: Cafe One (Sheraton Wall Centre)

Cafe One (Sheraton Wall Centre)

Sometimes online reviews can be very useful and at other times, they can be very misleading.  I'm not talking about blogs here (ironically...), rather, I'm referring to Google reviews, Yelp, Zomato and Tripadvisor.  I feel that the bulk of the reviews are pretty fair, but then again, you have the outliers that are overly (and unfairly) negative and those that are excessively glowing (are they related to the owners?).  Referring to the former, I almost didn't bother trying Cafe One at the Sheraton Wall Centre because most of the reviews have painted a picture of a plain-Jane hotel restaurant.  But a Travelzoo coupon encouraged me to try the place once-and-for-all.

The place is situated in the main Lobby in the North tower right behind Bar One.  Not particularly fancy, but still classy nonetheless.  We started with 3 appies including the Seared Lamb Loin served with coriander yogurt, vadouvan curry crumble and mini-naan.  This was prepared medium-rare and turned out to be sufficiently tender.  I thought the tart and herbal-tasting yogurt was a good match for the robust lamb.  The second appie was the Local Dungeness Crab Cakes with avocado salsa, spicy mayo and baby frisee.  These were a bit mealy, yet still consisted of a good amount of fluffy crab.  The crumb coating was appealingly crispy and had a nice toasted taste.  I thought the spicy mayo was a bit mild for my tastes though.

Our last appie was more for the kiddies than ourselves, because I was the only one to get a significant bite.  Since they love cheese (we always have a varied supply in our fridge), it was a given we'd order the Burrata with roasted garlic crostini, tomato jam, balsamic reduction, EVOO and fresh basil.  At times, I'm somewhat nervous ordering burrata as it has a 48-hour shelf-life.  This one was actually quite good being creamy and nicely elastic.  Suffice to say, the kids agreed and gobbled it up.

Onto our entrees, the kiddies both went for pastas with my son opting for the Papparedelle Pork Ragu consisting of slow-roasted pork shoulder, soffrito, fresh oregano, calabrian chili and tomato cream sauce.  Despite not looking the prettiest, this was actually quite tasty.  The sauce was a more creamy than tomato, but the light spiciness from the chili brought the flavours to life.  By far, the star of the plate was the generous amount of almost melt-in-your-mouth pork shoulder.  The pasta itself was a bit past al dente though.  My daughter went for the Seafood Linguine with tiger prawns, scallops and bistro shrimp in a San Marzano tomato sauce.  Unlike the previous dish, the pasta here was al dente and bathed in a lightly tart sauce.  There was a decent amount of seafood that was cooked more or less properly.

For myself, I went for the Haida Gwaii Sablefish atop togarashi infused sushi rice, baby bak choy, snap peas and baby beets with a soy ponzu broth.  Okay, let's get to the positive first which was the beautifully prepared fish.  It was nicely crisped up while maintaining a buttery and flaky texture.  As much as sablefish is forgiving, this was still masterfully done.  Other than that, the rest of the dish was a fail.  The rice was horribly dry and crusty.  I do realize the broth was supposed to address that, but the rice still remained mostly hard.  About that broth, it was terrible being too concentrated with soy saltiness.  The same could be said about the tomato fennel broth in the Seafood Cioppino with black tiger prawns, pacific cod, scallops, snow crab claw, fingerling potato and roasted garlic filone.  The salt content totally overwhelmed the brininess and fennel essence.  Too bad really as the seafood was all on point.

My mom went for the meat in the Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin with roasted fingerling potatoes and asparagus in a medeira wine jus.   This was very well-executed dish featuring a well-seared tenderloin that was slightly smoky and well-seasoned.  It was prepared medium-rare (closer to rare, which was perfect in our opinion) as requested.  The steak ate well being tender with some meatiness.  We found the jus to be silky and provided depth-of-flavour.  Viv had the Rossdown Farm Chicken Breast with leek potato puree, baby veggies in a natural chicken jus.  We were very surprised that this was rather tasty.  The chicken jus was flavourful with a light saltiness.  Crispy and well-seasoned, the chicken skin was the best part while the chicken itself was bordering on dry, but ultimately was fine.  Bright and fluffy, the leek mash was also quite good, but a little more cream and/or butter would've put it over the top.

For dessert, we shared the Dark Chocolate Lava Cake and Cheesecake Brulee.  Although the chocolate cake exhibited an appealing bitterness with only a purposeful amount of sweetness, there was too much lava and not enough cake.  It was like eating lukewarm chocolate pudding.  On the other hand, the cheesecake was pretty good despite not being smooth enough.  It was lightly sweet with a background tang and plenty of cheesiness.  The brulee on top was on point being thin, crunchy and smoky.  In the end, I could see both sides of the argument in reference to the online reviews.  Cafe One does just fine for a hotel restaurant with serviceable eats presented in a good portion size.  With that being said, it cannot be put into the same category as some of the best in town.

The Good:
- Fairly predictable food
- Decent portions
- Properly executed proteinds

The Bad:
- Further refinement is needed
- Dining space is rather plain

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