Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fishworks vs Ocean

Our local entertainment paper, The Georgia Straight said new North Van restaurant Fishworks was the best new suburban restaurant so I had to try it. I'd been studying the menu for awhile. I was intrigued by the arctic char with rhubarb as I'm always looking for new ways to mix fruit with fish, etc. One of the newspaper reviewers said the rhubarb overpowered the char and I discussed this with the server. I told her of the sole I'd recently had twice at Market, which I consider the best restaurant in Vancouver, for fish or anything (pizza in particular). Although its delicate sole came with a powerful sauce, the sole wasn't overwhelmed but highlighted. Another reviewer had raved about the trout so I eventually went with that.
I think what most intrigued me about the Dinner menu was this walnut and porcini soup. I told the server how much Chef Pino deserved his gold medal for inventing his porcini and chestnut soup, rightfully chosen food of the year in BC a couple of years ago, so of course I wanted to compare this soup with Pino's. Not in the same league, but highly edible. A very large serving I couldn't finish, as I had to save room for the trout. The combination of walnut and porcini fragments were tasty and the soup was satisfying, but not electrifying like Pino's. As the restaurant had just opened, I was presented with a whole wheat roll right out of the oven, with sage and walnut butter. I thought the walnuts in the butter would go well with the soup nuts and was proved correct.
Whole Ruby Trout, “en papillotte”, Leek, Kalamata olives, Beurre blanc - 21

A thrilling meal. From the sublime sauce to the trout that seemed to melt in it, to the leek and olive stuffing, and finally the vegetables, also mixed with the sauce. The whipped potatoes were the best potatoes I've ever eaten. The parsnip was such a novelty I didn't recognize it and had to ask the server what it was. A miraculous new taste. The sauce remained with me for the rest of the evening. Not only astonishingly good food (not that hard to find in Vancouver) but with quick and helpful service. As opposed to my last reviewed restaurant here, Ocean.
After the great tempura (for me) and pumpkin croquettes (for Fumiyo) we had at the end of March at Ocean, we went back to celebrate my birthday in April with 4 friends. For some reason, the fantastic Big Foot Tempura was off the menu, although everything else was the same. No, the chef couldn't cook it for me. Fumiyo ordered the same croquettes, which still say pumpkin on the English menu, but are now potato. Not the exquisite potatoes of Fishworks, just normal potatoes, and very disappointing to Fumiyo. The menu promised brown rice sushi. As I haven't been able to eat white rice since 1986, the thought of brown rice sushi was one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Ocean. Although I ordered its delicious-sounding smoked salmon, lemon and cucumber roll with brown rice, a couple of hours after I had ordered it and long after everyone at my table and every other table in the restaurant had been served, I was finally told that they only had white rice. Yet another menu deception. But that wasn't the worst of it. We had arrived at the restaurant at 6:30 and ordered promptly. I decided on the mushrooms in foil, thinking it would be similar to the mushrooms in foil I'd been enjoying for the past 15 years at Zen Sushi in West Van. How long does it take to cook mushrooms in foil? The meal finally arrived at 9:00. Did they have to grow the mushrooms first? It wasn't as if I hadn't reminded them every few minutes, as everyone else was served. What could explain the delay? The chef came out and appologized and gave us a discount on our bill, but these people do not deserve a business license. I left Fishworks last night full of contentment and look forward to many more meals there. I look forward to Ocean sinking beneath the waves, and being replaced by a restaurant that actually believes in truthful menus and is aware of the concept of service.

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