Sherman's Food Adventures: VCC Chef's Table

VCC Chef's Table

A few years back, I had attended my first ever Chef's Table at VCC (Vancouver Community College) in Downtown Vancouver.  They offer a 5-course tasting menu (actually more like 8 with amuse, bread and mignardiese included) for a reasonable price of $55.00 (add $20.00 for wine pairings).  Under the guidance of Chef Hamid Salimian (who also designs the menu), culinary students prepare and serve the meal at JJ's Restaurant within VCC.  If you can imagine, this is a fabulous deal where one can experience fine dining without the fine dining prices.  Recently, I was invited to try the current menu and they didn't have to ask twice.

Beginning with a "Snack" as described on the menu, this amuse consisting of tomatoes, olive, croutons and liquid nitrogen parmesan, this small bite was full of acidity, tanginess and saltiness to whet our appetites.  Loved the brightness of the ingredients that certainly woke up our tastebuds.  Served table side, the orange and dill vinaigrette enveloped a thin blanket of rare Sturgeon, scallop, side stripe prawns and mussels.  This was another bright and refreshing dish where the essence of dill really came through as well as the citrus of the orange.  The thin piece of sturgeon soaked it all up and was super flavourful as a result.  Buttery and delicate, the sweet prawns and scallops were a real treat.

From there, we moved onto one of my favourite dishes of all time in Vancouver, Chef Hamid's famous Puffed Foie Gras with apricot puree, thyme crumble, almonds and honey sphere.  Airy, light and oh so creamy, the puffed foie can only be enjoyed through personal experience and cannot be justifiably described.  The crunch of the almonds provided textural contrast while the combination of honey (which was super aromatic) and tangy apricot puree added the necessary acidity and sweetness.  Coated with kalamata olive tapenade, the beautifully rare confit albacore Tuna was full-flavoured. Tempering the saltiness, the nutty romesco and basil puree added balance.  Loved the addition of the well-seasoned and runny quail's egg as well as the crispy potato skin.  Topping it all off was grilled artichoke.

As an interlude of sorts, we had a Bread course consisting of mini-baguette, charcoal brioche and crunchy flatbread served with yogurt butter.  As simple as this was, the breads were fantastic.  The exterior of the baguette was appealingly chewy and nutty.  Brioche was soft and airy while the flatbread was nicely toasted being nutty and crunchy.  Butter was slightly tangy and nicely whipped.  Our favourite course of the night had to the Beef Tenderloin wrapped with a veal sweetbread farce and served with crispy potato cylinder filled with porcini foam.  The beef was perfectly medium-rare (closer to rare, which is what I prefer), buttery tender and well-seasoned by the farce. The red wine demi was silky with depth, nicely soaked up by the pieces of tenderloin.

Onto dessert, we were served a plate consisting of nitrogen milk Chocolate ice cream, chocolate "rocks" filled with mousse, dark chocolate bark, coffee crumble and vanilla pudding.  This was a pleasant end to a great meal with the creaminess of the ice cream complimented by the bitterness of the dark chocolate.  I loved how the rocks were not very sweet at all.  To officially end things off, we were presented with Mignardises consisting of a sparkle cookie, raspberry marshmallow and kalamansi jelly.  The warm cookie was so soft inside while firm on the outside.  We were surprised that the marshmallow was so tangy and natural-tasting, but we enjoyed it.  Finally, the kalamansi jelly packed a punch of tang and citrus with a bitter rind finish (which was good).  As you can imagine, this was a considerable amount of well-prepared and delicious food.  For $55.00, it is a steal.  I suggest you book your reservations before it is over.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Well-prepared
- Nicely designed progressive tasting menu
- Affordable

The Bad:
- As expected, the servers are students, they are bound to make mistakes.  Forgivable and who cares, especially for the price


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