Friday, March 24, 2006

Perfectly Parkside - A Dine Out Vancouver Success

Has anyone ever gained your complete trust within the first minute of meeting? Isn't that a wonderful thing? That's how I feel about Parkside (1906 Haro, just off of Denman). I immediately walk in and I feel like I can count on it, and I've only been there twice. No, they're not going to serve me anything yucky...yes, of course they'll serve everything with care...and obviously, asking questions about the menu will get me informed, gracious, answers. Now, that doesn't mean that they don't take chances. Chef Andrey Durbach changes the menu regularly, and in fact, their online menu is updated daily! So great was my trust after one visit, that this restaurant immediately came to mind as the one to pick for Dine Out Vancouver - the event where restaurants seem to set themselves up for big falls, between servers dealing with the large crowds of "unsophisticated" diners who are there for a bargain, exasperated hosts dealing with clogged phone lines, "campers" (those who eat slowly and stay a long time after eating) and no shows, you've likely got an exhausted staff on the brink of snapping at the next person who tries to order, say, a hot water with lemon.

But I look at Parkside, and I think to myself, "they've got class, they can do this" and I book myself a table as soon as they start taking them (beginning of January for any of you Dine Out newbies who want to snag a table at one of the more popular restaurants next time). Well, in short, they did it marvelously.

We arrived for our 8 pm (here's a tip: book later seatings for Dine Out to dampen the pressure to get in and out as quickly as possible) and the staff were relaxed and cheerful. The room was inviting despite being full of the beautiful people. We were seated promptly, and we started with a couple of their intriguing cocktails, a Dark and Stormy (dark rum, West Indian ginger beer, citrus juice) for Guiness Cheddar Boy and I think a Frozen Pineapple Cosmopolitan (vodka, pineapple sorbet,cranberry & fresh orange juice, shaken) for me.

My terrine appetizer was wonderful, with big, satisfying chunks of chicken, rabbit, ham, and foie gras, served with the cutest baby toasts, cornichons, pea puree, and a little fennel slaw. My dining companion had the salad, and I was tempted by the mushroom soup with truffle oil, but I think mine was the winner.

Terrine of Chicken, Rabbit, Smoked Ham and Foie Gras, Toasted Country Bread, Traditional Garnishes

Salad of Belgian Endive, Apples, Croutons, Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese Dressing

We both chose the beef short rib, which was swimming in a delicious pool of sauce. Again, deeply satisfying, and perfect fare for a chilly evening, especially with a bottle of Chianti (Ricasoli Chianti Classico Riserva 2000, Italy) alongside.

Braised Beef Short Rib, Spring Onion Mashed Potato, Savoy Cabbage, Mustard Jus

For dessert, Guinness Cheddar Boy, true to his cheese fiend nature, opted for the dolce latte gorgonzola, which was a really lovely softly flavoured cheese. I went for the decadent sticky toffee pudding, and was so full, that I could only finish half of it. A small tragedy in my mind. These are the times when a spare stomach would come in handy.

Dolce Latte Gorgonzola, Toasted Pecans, Poached Apple and Greek Honey

Sticky Toffee Pudding, Spiced Rum and Ginger Ice Cream Posted by Picasa

What particularly impressed me was that they managed to provide a meal normally priced at $49 for only $25, without making any single part of it feel like a discounted meal. Additionally, they offered it at the $25 level, rather than $35, as many Dine Out Vancouver participating restaurants did. The dishes were just as interesting as they normally are, the portions generous, and the service filled with their special touches, like decanting our wonderful Chianti and serving a little complimentary biscotti alongside my after-dinner coffee. It was a stellar meal from start to finish.


The Writer said...

Hello Dumpling Girl! I'm a Vancouver foodie too and LOVE your blog. I especially appreciate the review of Parkside...that's right in my neighbourhood and yet, somehow, I have never seen it! Can't wait.

Dumpling_Girl said...

Oo, I'm happy to be turning more people onto Parkside! Thanks for your comment, and hope you have a great meal!