Sherman's Food Adventures: Acquafarina


So you might be wondering why it has taken me so long to dine at Acquafarina.  Well, if you haven't already heard, they do not allow cellphone use and/or photos to be taken at their restaurant.  Hey, I totally respect that and understand.  They have every right to operate their restaurant the way they see fit.  Unlike some other places, at least they make it clear.   But for a limited time (it is probably over by the time you read this), they allowed photos and this coincided with the introduction with their new Executive Chef, Jefferson Alvarez.

The tasting menu was tempting, but we ended up going a la carte instead.  Before we got to the food, we were presented with house-made Focaccia Bread served with EVOO and balsamic.   Now I don't usually talk about complimentary bread, but this was very good.  It was light and airy with a fluffy interior.  The edges were crunchy, yet not hard and nicely salted on the top.  Dipped into high quality EVOO and balsamic, this was addictive (I ate too much of it!).

Now onto our first course, we had the Capesante Scottato or seared Hokkaido scallops with prosciutto, puffed scallop cracker atop celeriac puree.  This was pretty darn good with perfectly browned scallops which were slightly rare in the middle.  They were buttery and delicate with natural sweetness and scallop essence.  The salty prosciutto added depth and flavour to the dish while the puree was creamy and earthy.  Loved the tapioca scallop cracker on top, it had the unmistakable flavour of scallop.

Next, the Polpo alla Griglia or grilled octopus was accompanied by a smoked tomato marmalade and olives while topped with a tempura fried branzino skin.  A little too soft, the octopus was indeed tender.  I wished it still had a bit more chew still.  However, the marmalade was freakin' awesome.  It was so impactful with bright sweetness and only a background tang.  Even though it was bordering on salty, it didn't go over the line.

One of the more striking dishes was the Linguine all' Astice.  This featured linguine bathed in a lobster bisque-like smoked beurre blanc with a plethora of lobster meat. There was also a basil parsley cream as an accent as well as the striking lobster tail topped with caviar.  Was this good?  Oh you bet your $55.00 it was!  The house-made linguine was firmly al dente with ridges that clung onto the aromatic and impactful sauce.  With a buttery bounce texture, the lobster was absolutely perfect and the generous dollop of caviar only added to the decadence.

Equally delicious was the Risotto e Champagne featuring aged arborio rice, Ferrari brut, black truffle, roasted porcini and morels.  The rice couldn't have been any more perfect as it was fully cooked, yet still chewy.  It was bathed in a considerable amount of salty parm, which made it almost salty.  The woodsiness of the dish was quite apparent with the porcinis, morels and of course the liberal use of shaved black truffle.  Replacing the usual white wine with champagne didn't really change the flavour profile of the dish but it is suppose to cut through the heaviness.

Moving onto the mains, we had the Halibut Scottato with warm fennel orange salad.  Seaweed-crusted, the halibut skin side was hard-seared.  Hence, it was crunchy and nutty.  As for the meat underneath, it was still flaky and mostly moist with a few firmer parts.  The fish was properly seasoned so it could stand on its own.  That was necessary as the salad was super light and could've used more seasoning/dressing.  I did enjoy the crunchy fennel and the sliced tender fingerling potatoes.

We went big with the 8oz Tajima Wagyu Striploin accompanied by jus, grilled vegetables and crispy polenta.  If you are wondering why the steak was so dark, it was due to being ash-crusted.  Even though we asked for it be prepared medium (instead of the usual medium rare), the steak was still pink and juicy.  Hence it was buttery tender with the slight bitterness of the ash coming through.  Served tableside, the jus was meaty and not over-seasoned, so the wagyu could stand out.

Onto the sweets, we had the Ricordi di Sorrento with olive oil cake, limoncello mousse, sour candy and olive oil gel.  I thought the cake was a little on the dry and dense side.  However, the tart mousse did help make up for that.  The most interesting component to this dessert was the sour candy.  It was crunchy with a pleasing bitterness that I swear was candied lemon rind.  Whatever the case, this really provided a punch which elevated this dish.

Our other dessert was the Tiramisu Moderno that was their take on the classic Italian dish.  I give them props for thinking out of the box, but I really didn't enjoy this.  I found the espresso sponge to be oversoaked where it was too wet and the excess moisture leaked into the aerated mascarpone.  This made for some unappealing textures.  Flavours were good though with definite marsala and espresso notes.  So if you are unfamiliar with Acquafarina, they are indeed a fine dining restaurant with prices that reflect that.  I have to say that their service is top notch and does live up to its fine dining intentions.  The food was generally good with some standouts.  I would say some dishes could use some further refinement, but as they say, nothing is perfect.  My thoughts is that if you want to get spendy, Acquafarina is an option for high-end dining in Vancouver.

The Good:
- Some of the best and professional service in town
- Some standout dishes I would certainly return for
- Nice dining space

The Bad:
- Prices are high (and it is reflected in the service and generally, the food)
- Ambiance is nice but if you want quiet, stay away from the terrace


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