Sherman's Food Adventures: Westoak

Westoak

One of the longer standing restaurants in Yaletown has been Westoak run by Vancouver restaurateur Peter Girges.  I've been to some of his past establishments before, but have yet to visit Westoak.  It might be possibly due to the wide range of other choices that I've never had a chance to get out there.  Also, there was a famous social media fallout from a post awhile back about the lack of attention from the host/hostess...  Anyways, I finally made it out to the busy and popular eatery out on Mainland Street. 

At first, when the Crispy Calamari hit the table, I was a bit dismayed at the portion size.  What looked like a few strips ended up to be 2 each for all of us.  They were on point though being tender with just the right amount of chew.  The batter on the outside wasn't very crispy though, but it was well-seasoned.  It sat atop a red cabbage slaw with jalapenos.  The side of pepper lime aioli was creamy and tangy with a bite.  Also not looking too promising was the Wild Mushroom Crostini, yet it turned out to be decent.  I definitely got hits of rosemary with the smooth ricotta as well as slight bitterness from the lemon zest.  The mushrooms were buttery and mild-tasting, but we wished there were more of the pickled ones as the rest were pretty bland.

Probably our most favourite appie was the Vancouver Island Mussels and Fries.  As you can see in the picture, the fries are in the foreground and hence focused.  This was bad picture-taking on my part, but it might as well have been the highlight.  These thick-cut and double cooked fries were money.  They were crispy on the outside and full of tender potato goodness on the inside.  The mussels were good too being plump and buttery.  We found the broth quite good consisting of white wine, shallots and sundried tomato pesto.  Lastly, the Chinois Prawns were reminiscent of honey walnut prawns found at Chinese restaurants (hence the name).  They were slightly crunchy with a sweet glaze spiked by a housemade spicy aioli.  I thought these were pretty good, but the amount of sauce was a little excessive.

Onto the mains, I decided on the Braised Lamb Shank with housemade gnocchi, parsnip puree, minted peas, Swiss chard and shallots.  This could've been a great dish if the protein itself was good.  Unfortunately, the lamb was dry and chewy where it should've been fatty, tender and gelatinous.  If we looked past that, the pillowy soft gnocchi were excellent while the puree was smooth and flavourful.  The braising liquid was full of depth without being salty.  Too bad about the lamb shank itself.  Elaine found that her Roasted Pork Chop was equally dry where it was nicely seared though.  Fortunately, it wasn't chewy, so it was decently edible.  It was accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes, broccolini and a sweet and tangy apple dijon jus.

Viv ended up with the Sablefish with maple soy glaze, ginger wild rice, bak choy and pickled radish.  If we looked at the protein, it was expertly prepared where the flakes of fish were tender and buttery.  There was a nice sear on the outside while the glaze was super impactful.  Maybe a bit too much as it was rather salty.  We found the ginger wild rice to be very tasty with a nuttiness and sharpness to go with its chewy texture.  Lastly, Costanza had the best dish of the bunch with the Lobster Linguine.  The pasta was al dente and nicely sauced with chili marinated lobster, cherry tomato, fresh basil and lemon zest.  There was enough tang and spice to keep the flavours lively while the amount of tender lobster was fairly generous. In the end, we were pretty happy with the appetizers, but the entrees were definitely hit and miss.  So depending on what you order, your experience at Westoak could be quite varied.

The Good:
- Nice location and vibe
- Appies were solid
- Fair pricing for Yaletown

The Bad:
- Entrees were hit and miss

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