Sunday, January 30, 2005

Dine Out Vancouver Event 2005

As any Vancouver foodie worth their Fleur de Sel knows, the Dining Out event is providing diners with $15,$25, and $35 three-course meals at many of our city's restaurants for a few weeks. See the menus here:

This is the third year that I have experienced this event, and this past week, I dined at Diva at the Met, and Provence Marinaside. Surprisingly, Provence, a restaurant I had never been to, and in fact had never been all that motivated to try, was the one that won me over, while Diva, a favourite fine dining restaurant of mine, disappointed slightly, due to the serivce. The food, I should say right away, was quite nice at both restaurants. The service during this event has always been hit or miss for me, and it is easy to understand. The servers at these high end restaurants are getting somewhere around a third or half of their usual tips per table during this event while still having to deal with packed restaurants. However, in my opinion, a true professional will understand the promotional potential of the event, and have enough pride in their work, to maintain their normal standard of service. I mean, they are probably still making more than an IHOP waitress would on her normal shift, and I've had phenomenal service there everytime. There was nothing outrageously wrong with the service at Diva...just a few tiny details that resulted in my feeling rushed. Wine pairings at Provence were from Quail's Gate, and really worthwhile at $20. I was tanked, so that generally has a very positive effect on my dining experience, so I fully admit possible bias there. But I was pretty buzzed on my lychee "martini" at Diva too. I'm Asian, and so, a "cheap date."

Last year, I experienced wonderful service at Gotham - which impressed me enough to make me want to return to the restaurant (though I never did), despite the food actually being less impressive. The steaks were cut thinly for the event, rather than just cutting a shorter piece of the same thickness as their regular steaks. Really the wrong way to go. But that just goes to show you how important the server is to the whole dining experience. West, one of the other restaurants I visited during last year's event, was the opposite: incredible food + 1 snarky server = overall negative and regrettable experience. So next year, I may not be tempted by Dine Out Vancouver at all. Oh, who am I kidding?...I love an excuse to go to a restaurant, and I love a bargain - I'll probably get sucked into their evil marketing plot yet again.