Sherman's Food Adventures: C-Prime Modern Italian Steak & Wine

C-Prime Modern Italian Steak & Wine

As much as there are many locations of The Keg in the Lower Mainland, other than the high-end ones found in Downtown Vancouver (such as Hy's, Gotham and Black + Blue), there are only a few like Chop, Carver's and S+L).  I guess such an operation involves a fairly high investment in terms of decor, staffing and of course the beef products which have been skyrocketing in price the past few years.  Therefore, it was somewhat interesting that C-Prime Modern Italian Steak & Wine replaced Beyond in the Century Plaza Hotel.  Sporting a more upscale interior and equally more deluxe menu, I was wondering how it stacked up to the other steakhouses in town.

Originally, C-Prime wasn't even our first choice as we had booked ARC, but due to the availability of more kid-friendly dishes, we ended up there.  Normally, I do not comment on house bread as it can be pretty generic (unless it is menu item, which is becoming the norm these days).  However, the Focaccia with warm EVOO, balsamic vinegar, fleur de sel and olives was fantastic.  In addition to the option for customization, the bread itself was soft and warm.

Moving onto our appies, we had the classic Beef Carpaccio with arugula, shaved parm and mustard aioli.  This was pretty much a textbook version consisting of super thin slices of buttery melt-in-our-mouths beef.  We appreciated the simplicity of the accompaniments as it didn't overwhelm the delicate meat.  Personally, it was a relief that they opted for a creamy and tangy mustard aioli rather than truffle oil or aioli.  It was more bright and less heavy.  Next, we had another classic in the Baked Oysters Florentine which were topped with spinach and asiago fondue. As such, the flavours were mild and more creamy.  The spinach was completely wilted, but not mushy.  The oysters were small, but buttery and sweet.

Presented as one large piece, the Crab Cake was stuffed full of dungeness, peppers and onions.  I would've preferred 2 smaller crab cakes as the texture of the large one was a bit dense and mealy while the exterior wasn't crispy enough due to the size.  Flavours were pretty mild though with only the sweetness of the red pepper and onions coming through.  I enjoyed the lemon aioli as it was creamy and lightly acidic.  Our last appie was the Pan-Seared Scallops atop cauliflower puree.  We found the scallops a touch overdone but they were still buttery.  They were naturally sweet and the puree underneath added another layer of sweetness.  

Onto the mains, I went for the 10 oz. NY Striploin prepared a perfect medium-rare.  I don't throw around the perfect word very often since nothing is, but my steak was uniformly medium-rare and well-charred.  It was also properly seasoned where I could've eaten it plain and I would've been a happy camper.  However, I added a side of Bernaise sauce which was super buttery and rich.  On the negative side of the ledger, I found the onion rings far too hard and crunchy to eat.  My mom also went for a steak in the 8 oz. Wagyu Ribeye in a California cut (cap removed).  This was also seared aggressively while still maintaining a medium doneness (to activate the fats in a Wagyu steak, it's best to go for medium).  The meat was also properly-seasoned and super tender.

My dad prefers to limit his red meat intake, so he went for the Whole Dover Sole with lemon & capers and oregano.  When they said whole dover, they weren't kidding as it was the entire fish with bones.  No matter as the meat was easily removed while being moist and flaky.  The dish was on the greasier side though and mildly seasoned.  However, the lemon did go a long way in keeping things acidic and bright.  As predicted, my daughter ordered the BC Salmon al forno with honey balsalmic glaze and rapini.  As evidenced in the picture, the skin was aggressively crisped up.  However, the rest of the fish was overdone being on the drier side.  In terms of seasoning, the flavours were excellent with plenty of tart sweetness from the glaze.

Viv followed the trend and didn't go for steak either.  She selected the Panko Crusted Ahi Tuna which was prepared rare with only the slightest cooked outer ring.  Hence, the outside was lightly crispy while the inside was buttery and tender.  The fish itself was mildly sweet with the taste of the sea.  It was accompanied by a dijon-soy ailoi which wasn't overwhelming.  My son had the Spaghetti Carbonara that featured al dente noodles, pancetta and parm.  Despite the flavourful description, the dish fell completely flat.  He had to resort to using salt to flavour the dish.  It was creamy though and not overly greasy nor wet.

We also added some sides including Mac n Cheese and Truffle Parm Fries.  Whatever afflicted the spaghetti carbonara also rang true for the mac n cheese.  It was generally flavourless without any saltiness nor sharpness from the cheese.  As much as we appreciated the al dente texture of the macaroni, the whole dish was fairly dry and in need of more bechamel and cheese.  Although a little overwhelming with the truffle oil, the fries were pretty solid being the lightly crispy house-cut variety.  They were naturally potatoey inside and aggressively double-fried on the outside.  Loved the good amount of parm as it added plenty of umaminess.

To add some veggies to the meal, we also got the Cauliflower Gratin and Creamed Corn. Yes, I realize the oxymoron-type names of the dishes, but hey, why not make veggies taste better?  We found the cauliflower to be texturally on point with a firm robust crunch while still cooked all-the-way through.  Although there was a plethora of cheese sauce, the flavours were rather muted though.  The creamed corn was pretty saucy seemingly more so than actual corn.  It was not bad with an impactful sweetness accented by the sweet pops of corn niblets.  I would've liked to see more saltiness to balance the sweetness though.

Moving onto the sweets, we got the Cannoli (mispelled Cannolli on the menu!) filled with ricotta-marscapone cream and chocolate chips.  These were pretty good sporting a light and crispy shell.  Inside, the cream was smooth while being rather sweet.  The light bite from the chocolate chips added even more sweetness and nice texture.  My daughter could've cared less about the cannolis since she had her eye on the Chocolate Tart with raspberry crumb, croquant almond and raspberry sorbet.  This was also acceptable with a rather rich ganache that was slightly bitter and not overly sweet.  We found the shell to be a bit crumbly while the sorbet was nicely balanced and smooth.

For my mom, she wanted the lemon-ricotta Cheesecake with amarena cherries and raspberry sorbet.  This was also decent with a medium-thick creamy texture that was lightly tart and purposefully sweet.  The sweet syrupy cherries on top also had a background bitterness that went quite well with the cheesecake.  In the end, our feelings were mixed with the wide range of dishes we tried.  Some hit the mark while others were not acceptable given the menu prices.  Regarding the service, we thought it was pretty attentive and definitely friendly. Ultimately, one's experience at C-Prime truly depends on the selection of dishes ordered.

The Good:
- Steaks turned out right and were tender
- On point service
- Nice room and ambiance

The Bad:
- Hit and miss
- Pricey
- Inadequate parking lot


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