Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ensemble Restaurant and Bar Vancouver

ensemble-17As a big fan of Top Chef shows, I was thrilled when they announced that there will be a Canadian version of the show. The Top Chef Canada show, joined by many talented Canadian Chefs from all over Canada, was pretty fun to watch albeit some slight difference with the American version. The winner of the first season of Top Chef Canada was Chef Dale MacKay from Vancouver. Having previously been in charge of two of Vancouver elite restaurants, Chef MacKay recently opened his own restaurant, Ensemble, in the heart of downtown.

Prior to my visit to his restaurant, I did a little research on my own on the web regarding other dinners' dinning experience. Some found that the service need to be improved, while others complained about the lack of flavor in food, tiny portions, and price. Aside from the rave reviews, I wasn't completely let down nor was I skeptical, as I prefer to experience things on my own.

ensemble-8Reservation is highly recommended as I made mine one week in advanced. The food here vary in prices with the most expensive being the roasted lamb loin ( 24 CAD ) and the rest are below 20 CAD. Aside from that, they also offered a tasting menu which costs about 44 CAD per person. Our server explained to us that the portion they serve in the restaurant were small to medium sizes with some dishes were meant to be shared. My friends and I decided to order 10 dishes to share for the evening.

Dungeness crab with spiced melon soup, basil and mint

Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with fresh peas, crisp shallots, rosemary bannock

Fresh cheese and roasted beet salad with basil, orange and radish

Sweet and sour eggplant with baba ghanoush, yogurt and tomato

Black cod with Thai broth with bok choy, corinder and chili oil

Five spice pork belly with smoked miatakis, brussels sprouts, pear and cashews

Roasted lamb loin with radish, shitake puree, blugur wheat and black garlic jus

soufflé with coconut sorbet

Precious pavlova with fresh citrus fruits

Chocolate Sundae - Bailey ice cream and Biscotti crumble

The food were great overall. Some of my favorites were : the beef tenderloin carpaccio, the sweet and sour eggplant, the black cod with Thai broth, the five spiced pork belly and the precious pavlova. We really enjoyed our starter, the beef tenderloin carpaccio. The fried shallots garnished on top of the beef carpaccio did give an extra texture to the dish.

The sweet and sour eggplants was the best plated dish of the evening - it was way too pretty to be eaten. The black cod with Thai broth and the five spiced pork belly were my top two highlights of the night. I especially enjoyed the pork belly as it was so tender and perfectly seasoned. The Thai broth on the other hand was absolutely mind blowing and very aromatic.

When it came to selecting desserts, we had a difficulty in deciding between the pavlova and the madeline; however, we were offered an unbiased opinion from the server on which one to choose - and she was spot on, the precious pavlova was outstanding.

If you wondered why the word "precious" was added in front of the pavlova dish, in the Top Chef Canada show Chef MacKay made the pavlova in one of the challenges and Shereen, one of the judges, called his pavlova as way too "precious". I love Chef MacKay's deconstructed pavlova, the big white marshmallow-like log on the plate was actually a crispy lemon meringue, and the acidity of the lemon was just spot on.
The precious pavlova was really refreshing.

The pineapple soufflé
was a little too airy for my taste and it had a non-smooth vertical side - I was guessing it was due to the mixture not filling in the dish properly which caused air bubbles. Nonetheless, the coconut sorbet that came with the soufflé was pretty good.

To my surprise, the Ensemble crews were actually listening to the public reviews. Our service that evening was great, our server was really friendly and informative. Our glasses of water were never half empty as the waitress kept on filling them occasionally. Moreover, they even paid attention to small details such as re-folding our napkins when we go to bathroom.

In a normal fine dining restaurant, you rarely get to meet the chef. At Ensemble, however, Chef MacKay came out that evening to meet and greet the diners. Having seen him on television, it was truly a one of a kind experience to be able to meet and chat with him in person.

Ensemble on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

myfudo said...

Looks so rich and inviting. I must have one of it.


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