Sherman's Food Adventures: Showcase (Marriott Pinnacle)

Showcase (Marriott Pinnacle)

Before they renovated and revamped their menu, Showcase Restaurant in the Marriott Pinnacle could be kindly described as boring.  I had visited the place many years ago with my family and the food was definitely serviceble, but for the price, we could've eaten almost anywhere with better results.  Fast forward to the present and there is some buzz surrounding the food and vibe of the new Showcase.  Costanza frequents the place and suggested I give it a try.  That we did prior to the Autoshow.

I thought our first starter, the Seared Scallops with raisins and capers was the strongest dish of the meal.  It featured 3 large properly prepared scallops which were buttery and soft while retaining a nice rebound.  It was caramelized and well-seasoned.  The sweet raisins were appealing while the capers were kept to a minimum so that the salt content remained low.  The soy ginger Chicken Wings were also very good.  Although the breading was a bit excessive, it was fried until crispy and did not seem heavy.  That enabled the meat inside the wings to be juicy and moist.  The skin wasn't completely rendered due to the breading, but it wasn't much of an issue.  In terms of taste, this is where the dish shone.  There was a definite sweet Asian sesame soy slant with a slight kick from the sauce.

I love fries, so I couldn't resist getting the Parmesan Fries with a lemon aioli.  The fries themselves were crispy and light while still having some potato texture left.  They were aggressively coated with parm which meant they tasted good on their own.  However, the tasty mayo was creamy and exhibited an appetizing tanginess that really lightened the heavy fries.  Off to our mains, Costanza had The Burger which was served on a whole wheat bun rather than a brioche bun in the old menu.  As such, the burger ate more robust, but it wasn't too dense either.  The bacon was on point being crispy and smoky.  Nicely charred, the burger patty was not dry and exhibited a natural meatiness.

For myself, I had the Haida Gwaii Halibut which was seared up crispy on one side.  It was mildly seasoned where the natural delicate flavours of the fish remained.  It was flaky and moist which indicated it was fresh, not previously frozen. The spring vegetable succotash underneath was vibrant and bright. However, there was too much of it where it became too much of the plate and somewhat obscured the piece of fish. On another visit with Emily, we tried the Westcoast Chowder (split into 2 bowls) and it was fantastic.  It was made-to-order being creamy rather than thick.  Hence, with the lack of thickening agents, there was no grittiness nor floury textures.  It was well-seasoned (loved the smokiness from the bacon) without being salty with the natural sweet and brininess of the seafood coming to the forefront.  The ample amount of seafood was on point including the buttery clams.

Looking more like an entree or large side, the Smoked Applewood Cheddar Mac + Cheese was actually our second appy.  The pasta was firm and al dente while the cheese sauce was smooth and the right viscosity.  It wasn't too saucy with only enough clinging to each piece of pasta.  There was a tart spiciness from the jalapeno while a noted sharpness from the cheese.  The cornbread topping was appealingly sweet and crisp, however, the cheese on top was a bit dry.  Onto our entrees, we continued on the theme of pasta with the Spicy Chorizo Rigatoni.  The dish was fresh-tasting and loaded with ingredients.  The ample amount of meaty chorizo added body and a robust quality to the dish.  However, we felt the pasta was not spicy enough to match its description.  We even had asked for spicier.  The balanced amount of ricotta added a creamy cooling effect to the pasta.

Going for something more substantial, we had the Grilled Rib Eye with mushrooms, maple bacon jus and potato.  We asked for medium-rare and it was mostly so on one side.  The other side was medium and quite tough.  However, the medium-rare portion was good being nicely charred and seasoned.  The mushrooms were on point being buttery, yet a touch salty.  Loved the bacon in the jus as it was super delicious.  Our last savoury item was the Roasted Duck Breast which was somewhat small in portion size.  It was super tender though with crispy skin.  It was a touch fatty though.  The pea puree was fresh-tasting, sweet and bright.  The additional whole peas provided a sweet pop.  Equally good, the polenta was smooth and properly seasoned.

For dessert, the Dark Chocolate Marquise was amazing.  Complimented by a white chocolate coffee cremeux and cassis sorbet, the bitter sweetness of the rich and chocolatey marquise went well with the sweet and tart elements.  We thought the consistency and texture of the marquise was on point being not too mousse-like nor too dense.  After these 2 visits to Showcase, it is clear they have put in the effort to exorcise the restaurant of the past.  The food is more creative and trends towards fine-dining.  Sure, some dishes could use further refinement, but considering the price point, Showcase is an option for Downtown eats.

The Good:
- Reasonable price point for Downtown
- Attentive and friendly service
- Decent portion size (except for the duck)

The Bad:
- Some proteins could be cooked more consistently 


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