Sherman's Food Adventures: The Living Room (Hotel Belmont)

The Living Room (Hotel Belmont)

It's been awhile since I'm been down to the Granville Entertainment District in Downtown Vancouver.  So it is no surprise I was clueless that Doolin's had shuttered and the Comfort Inn became The Belmont Hotel.  Okay, I've actually been down there not that long ago, but obviously I wasn't paying attention.  Well, I was invited with a bunch of the other awesome foodies in town to try out The Living Room (that replaces Doolin's) and to check out The Basement as well.  Gotta say that underground space is a perfect party room for those looking for a place to book.  But back to The Living Room, they have a nice bar in the middle and they still have those large windows that open up and you get fresh air including all the people watching on Nelson Street.

Onto the food, we were served a bunch of appies including the KFC Bao with crispy chicken, pickled vegetables, gochujang aioli, cilantro and sesame seeds.  I enjoyed these as the steamed bao was soft and fluffy while not stuck to the steamer (probably placed in the basket afterwards).  The chicken was crunchy while being juicy inside.  There was the classic sweet and spicy gochujang flavour that was complimented by the crunchy pickled veggies.

The next plate to hit the table was the Braised Meatballs in a rosé sauce topped with grana padano and basil pesto.  I found the meatballs to have a natural beef texture while still being moist and tender.  There wasn't a whole lot of filler in these.  They were mildly seasoned with enough inherent flavour to stand on its own, but the sauce was totally welcomed.  I thought it was more tangy than being a creamy
 rosé, but that was a good thing as some versions are far too muted due to the addition of cream.  Loved the basil pesto as it provided some herbaceousness.

Normally, ordering Burrata in a restaurant is never a bad decision, but ultimately, some versions are pretty boring.  So when this one was topped with a considerable amount of chili oil tapenade, it really brought the whole dish alive.  First and foremost, the burrata was creamy and acted as a blank canvas for the tangy, salty and slightly spicy tapenade.  We found uniformly toasted foccacia on the side that was crispy and light.

Yes, the next appie we had was actually handmade by The Real Dumpling King but hey, they were good and prepared properly.  The Pork Dumplings were shaped like an XLB, but they featured a very thin, almost translucent wrapper.  The texture was appealing with a good mouth feel and elasticity.  They were seared well with crispy and browned bottoms.  Inside, the pork filling was meaty and juicy with a wealth of seasoning that meant that the dip wasn't even necessary.

Last small plate we had was the Lobster & Prawn Rolls tossed in lemon aioli and herbs.  These were pretty good with a soft split bun stuffed with plenty of filling.  The textures were on point with cold-water crunchy prawn meat as well as lobster with an appealing rebound.  Naturally, the sweetness and brininess of the two ingredients were present, but the lemon aioli with herbs complimented them beautifully.  The balanced acidity really helped keep things bright and light.

Onto the mains, I had the Smash Burger with two patties, American cheese, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato and burger sauce on a toasted brioche bun.  As you can see, this was a substantial burger where the bun was perfect.  It held together, but was light enough to not be a distraction from the meat.  Those smashed patties were medium-thick, nicely charred and still moist.  Slathered in salty melted cheese and tangy sauce, this ate messy and very well.

Interestingly, almost everyone at the table ordered the Hanger Steak Frites featuring Bulleit Bourbon peppercorn sauce, roasted tomatoes, skinny fries and for this plate, garlic prawns for an extra $7.00.  Due to it being a hanger steak, the meatiness and beef flavour was at the forefront.  It was prepared a perfect medium-rare with an even cook on both sides.  Properly rested and nicely charred on the outside, there was very little in the way of meat juices leaking out.  The steak was sufficiently tender for the cut and the peppercorn sauce was creamy and full-flavoured.  There was a considerable amount of fries and they were uniformly crispy.  Prawns were excellent too with a sweet snap and lots of garlic buttery goodness.  For $29.00 and considering the execution (and since we were in Downtown), this was a good vaule.

Even though the Pan-Seared Steelhead Salmon was not as sexy as the steak and burger, it was also one of the best.  It was seared nicely while still moist and flaky on the inside.  The lemon butter emulsion was creamy but not overly heavy due to the acidity.  Of course it worked well with the salmon.  Underneath, the fluffy quinoa combined with the sauce was delicious.  On the side, the zucchini, red pepper, cherry tomatoes and peas were beautifully prepared.

Beyond all these dishes, it would seem that the Spicy Rigatoni would be an afterthought, right?  Not so.  It was also very good with al dente pasta bathed in an arribiatta 
rosé sauce with foccacia bread crumbs, grana padano and garlic prawns ($7.00 extra).  I found the sauce to be tangy and not that creamy (same as the meatballs), but again, that worked for me.  It was mildly spicy with plenty of nutty cheesiness from the grana padano.  Again, the prawns were cooked right and added some nice texture.

Onto dessert, we had two of them including the New York Cheesecake with berry compote.  This was textbook with a rich and creamy texture that was only semi-sweet.  It was uniformly shaped and featured a buttery graham cracker crust.  As much as the berry compote was a bit pale in colour and chunky in appearance, it was good.  There was a nice balance of sweetness to go with the considerable tang which brought some brightness to the heavy cheesecake.

My favourite of the two was the Warm Chocolate Brownie drizzled with salted caramel and topped with candied nuts and whipped cream.  Texturally, the brownie was rich, chewy and not overly dense.  It was chocolaty without being too sweet.  Good thing because the salted caramel did its thing with heightened smoky sweetness.  The nuts added some crunch to the dessert.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the food quality and execution at The Living Room.  Given its reasonable pricing, especially for its Downtown location, The Living Room is a great place to grab some drinks and food all served in an eclectic modern space.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid eats and cocktails
- Reasonable pricing
- Nice eclectic vibe

The Bad:
- Street parking is limited and parking lots are pricey


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