Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 10th - Pourhouse Restaruant - Gastown, Vancouver - Nice Mains but skip the Salad

 the Cure
I like going out to dinner with friends who are amused by my online sideline.  We paused after dessert to discuss the dinner so we would have a fair consensus on our opinion of the Pourhouse for my post.  S and G are great dinner friends.  They are from Montreal too but consider Vancouver home.  We are always sharing gastronomic experiences and suggestions with each other and go out to new places about monthly.

We were going to go to Nuba on Hastings for Lebanese food but they were fully booked.  Actually, I had called in and they had said they were accepting walk ins but when S and G showed up early to try to snag a table, they were rather rudely rebuffed by the hostess.  S, otherwise not easily ruffled type of guy, was fairly annoyed.  While we were recovering at home from snowboarding, they continued their stroll in Gastown to find us a place to eat.  He asked if we had heard of anywhere new and I mentioned the PourHouse.

It has been open for a few months.  I first heard of it at the Food show in the fall.  I was attending cocktail seminar with a Ginger based liquor and the presenter was the head bartender from Voya.  He had mentioned that he was opening a new restaurant on his own.  At the time, he had described it as old fashioned comfort food and the pending website looked rather stodgy and un-Me friendly.  I.e. not alot of Seafood or Veggie options.  That has changed quite a bit from what I remember.

It is subtley thematic on early North American pubs or even English gastropub.  The bartenders are in suspenders and cheeky little page boy caps and the font was nearly early American-Western. The decor is low lit with lots of big wood and brass.  I can almost etch my memory of the evening in Sepia tones.  However, I do emphasise the subtlety.  It was not a beat the dead horse theme. The menu was nicely diverse but on point and the servings were generous but not overly so, as they would be in such times.

We started with a few glasses of wine and bubbly.  D had the Basiolo Barbera.  I had the Seeya Later Pinot Noir, which in the end was too big for my Dungeness Crab starter. S and G had Pares Balta Cava. We then ordered a bottle of Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2008. On the bolder side for Cod but it is hard to satisfy everyone's order. It was a pleasant wine.

G and I shared the Crab Louie which was listed in the 'Relishes' but more commonly as the Salads.  It was described as Dungness Crab with Jumbo Asparagus, Butter Lettuce, Tomatoes and Cucumber with housemade Louie Dressing.  Strange.  No boiled eggs. Crab Louie is a Classic early American salad like the Caesar though probably a tad more old fashioned.  I was hoping for an upscale take on it.  It was exactly as described..... completely.  We were served those ingredients on a plate with what I can estimate to be thousand island dressing on the side.  There was quite a generous amount of fresh Crab, I'll admit.  For 20 bucks, I was hoping for a bit more personality.
Crab Louie Salad
S and D shared the 'Cure'.  It was a selection of cured meats with a bit of Mustard and Onion Relish.  It came with a basket of a variety of strong breads.  I would have to say the star was the bread.  There was a fabulous Rye and Hearty Chili and Cheese bread.  I meant to ask where they source their bread but forgot.  I will have call.  That aside, the 20 bucks for the few bits of sausage was entirely unsatisfying.  Oddly, we were not served butter with the bread or meats.  ???

S and G tend to order very similar mains.  I would have say it has happened at least half the time.  We both ordered the Wild Pacific Ling Cod on du Puys Lentils with Celeriac Puree.  The Ling Cod portion was standard but the Lentils portion was gloriously, and finally decent. I am frequently disappointed by the descrition of a bedding under a fish which turns out to be a schmear or dollop.  The Ling Cod was sitting on a nice portion of the creamy Celeriac puree island in a sea of savoury du Puys Lentils. MMMMM  Side by side, G's cod was over cooked but mine was perfect and the crispy skin was nice.  We both completely finished the lentils and Celeriac.  She set aside her skin.

D ordered the Pork Chop with Dandelion Greens, Baby Corn and Apple Sauce.  D really liked the Pork Chop, though thought the pre-slicing was unnecessary.  He did not much care for the Apple Sauce.  It was quite cooked and I liked it but he prefers the fresh uncooked type with his pork.  Overall, he enjoyed the chop.

S ordered the Carpet Bag steak. AAA Kettleridge Tenderloin with Carrot Puree, Fried Oyster and Sweet Potato. Carpet Bag is an old school way of cooking a steak partially on grill then oven.  S said is a great way too cook a nice thick piece of meat.  S said his steak was perfectly cooked.

We finished the meal by sharing the Warm Chocolate cake with housemade Salted Carmel Ice Cream.  It was Yum.  There was some duelling spoons on this one.  The salted Ice Cream was lovely.

Overall, we agreed that the Starters were disappointing but the mains were very good, with the exception of G's overcooked Ling Cod but since I also had one that was cooked well, we chalked it up to a execution exeption.  They have Jazz on Sundays.  I would come back but skip the starter for my own dessert.  The staff were great.  Friendly, knowledgeable, not at all pushy though we lingered. They genuinely appeared to enjoy working there.  I like that.

Cost: $$$-$$$$ (with wine)
Ambiance: Cozy and vibrant
Location: Safer end of Gastown, well, better lit anyway.
Wine List: Good variety but not alot of selection.

Pourhouse Restaurant
162 Water Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2
(604) 568-7022

Pourhouse on Urbanspoon

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