Dino and Krista wanted to take us to dinner at Coast, a Yaletown restaurant they had enjoyed before and Dine Out Vancouver appeared to be the perfect time to do it. Dine Out is a yearly event where Vancouver restaurants attract customers in a usually slow period (January, and with our weather recently it's amazing anyone goes out to do anything) with seriously cheap prices on a set meal. The two meals offered began with slow braised beef shortribs and Dunganess crab tacos (for Fumiyo and I) or Okanagan goat cheese salad, baby greens, toasted pecans, spiced apple vinagrette which Krista and Dino dined upon. They found their salads good, though not outstanding. Krista liked the wine pairing, which was Mission Hill '5 Vinyards' Chardonnay 2005. I agreed it went superbly with the crab tacos but neither Fumiyo nor I were impressed with the beef. Far too meatier for our tastes. When I was taking pictures of the first course, a waitress appeared (we were among the first customers in the restaurant) and offered to take pix for us. I said no, I'd do it and Krista commented that I'm kind of a food critic.
Well, if you want to call this food criticism. It sure improved the service.
The tacos were superb. We had to send the beef back, and were offered more tacos in exchange. With my almost non-existant appetite, I feared any more appetiser would supplant whatever capacity I retained for the mail course. I thought back to the beef I had with Frank at Chambar the previous week. The reason it was so good was the sauce. Meat (beef at least) has to be mitigated with serious sauce to taste good, unless you're lucky enough to be eating beef in Japan. This is something I discoverd on my first day in Japan, at the Hamamatsu Grand Hotel, in August, 1971 where I was served teppanyaki by the hotel restaurant and was astonished what grated daikon and soy sauce could do to beef. Anyway, this was not that meal.
For mains, Fumiyo and I had the 7 spiced ahi tuna, smoke salmon and green asparagus roll, lychee salsa
while our hosts had the Moroccan rubbed lamb sirloin, potato puree, roasted garlic jus.
Krista found the lamb rarer than she'd ordered but still good. Dino wasn't too impressed with the wine but I was happy to discover how well a red, in this case Mission Hill "5 Vinyards" Pinot Noir 2004, could complement the spicy (but thankfully not TOO spicy) tuna. A useful lesson.
The Chands (Dino and Krista) had given me a 6 month subscription to the BC Wine club and its first two bottles had arrived a few days before this meal. Both wines were from Stonehill Vinyards (serendipitously, my parents had spent the last 40 years living on Stonehill Place in Sherman Oaks, California- a street not noted for its wines). I had just opened the white, a 2003 Riesling and discovered it went poorly with the salmon stuffed with cream cheese and asparagus I'd had the previous night for dinner. The brochure accompanying the wines suggested I drink it with mussels (that ain't gonna happen!) or sweetly smoked salmon (yes, this works!). One dissappointment with my main meal was the "salmon roll," a sushi thing. I think the existance of sushi is an excellent reason to wipe Japan off the map. I plucked out the bits of asparagus and ate them with the lychee salsa, but avoided the rice like the bacteriological weapon I knew it to be. I still had some of the first 5 Vinyards wine left in my glass as I was eating the tuna, and it also complemented the fish but not as affectionately as the Pinot Noir.
Krista, Fumiyo and I all selected the roasted Granny Smith apple tart, caramel sauce, vanilla gelato (I could have lived without that) lovingly complemented with Mission Hill "Reserve" Late Harvest Riesling, 2004. I'm getting the impression Riesling is supposed to be consumed with something sweet. Krista doesnt normally eat deserts and found this one a bit tough. I'm sure Krista, like most humans, is much stronger than I am but I found the physical exertion needed to cut up the tart more rewarding than working out at the gym. Dino had the sweet chocolate peanut butter cup, chantilly cream and strawberry coulis. He seems to have survived.