- Peter and I ordered the Terra Set: braised beef, risotto of wild, cultivated mushroom,wood spit roasted pork rack, and tiramisu. I paid an additional $45 for wine pairings.
- Helen ordered the Mare Set: octopus, gnocchi of spinach with ricotta, sablefish, and creme brulee.
- Dennis ordered spinach and penchatta pizza, risotto of wild, cultivated mushroom, and Qualicum Scallops.
Dennis loves the (free!) warm doughy bread with olive pepper spread. We went through at least 3 full basket (Dennis ate a full one on his own) and used up last of the restaurant's olive spread. He wanted to come back to this restaurant to just have their bread and scotch.
We all enjoyed our first course, but Helen's octopus was beyond this world. It came with cannelloni beans, garlic, olives, tomato, and harissa dressing. It also had flower peddles layered into the dish. Each bite offers different texture, aroma, and a hint of flower scent. Our pizza and braised beef were average, uncreative, and lackluster in comparison to Helen's.
We all enjoyed our second course as well, but again Helen's spinach gnocchi put our dishes to shame. I love risottos, and I always order it by default at any fancy restaurant. Cin Cin's risotto is above average and tasty. However, Helen's dish was delicate, exciting, and unique and really demonstrated the chef's creativity, skills, and attention to detail.
The story repeated for our third course. Peter and I did not enjoy our pork dish at all. It was tough, dull, and difficult to get through, while Helen had another mind blowing dish. A bite of the garlic crusted sablefish sent tinkling sensation to my head. Dennis liked his scallops but mentioned that I could prepare the same dish at home.
The desserts were not so memorable.
Dennis has a pretty severe allergy to eggs, and we were sharing everything. We sent our waitress back and forth between our table to the kitchen numerous times to inquire of ingredients. She was very patient, humorous, and happy to oblige our requests. She was quick to fulfill our orders, put more bread in front of Dennis, and even noticed our lack of interests in the pork dish. I also had the pleasure of talking to the wine director who were very helpful.
There was no music playing. With a full restaurant, it was quite noisy and rather unromantic. Overall, the restaurant was warm, comfortable, and welcoming. It was not intimidating or ostentatious.
Overall Experience (4/5):
Bonus mark for the impressive "book" of a wine list. Great reading material. There was an amazing list of bordeaux and cabernet sauvignon, including a $6800.00 Petrus. (It was a little surprising to see such comprehensive list of big reds in an Italian restaurant. The cuisine wasn't known for big red meats, and there were only a few uninspiring steak options). The wine pairings for my set menu were:
Frescobaldi Nipozzano, Chianti Rufina Reserva, Tuscany 05
This is a classic from the region. I believe this is a blend. The fragrance is complex with plum, black currant, cinnamon, clove. On the palate, the tannin is low and soft, balanced acid, m- body, and a smooth finish. Good pairing with the braised beef with creamy sauce.
Travaglini Coste Della Sesia Nebbiolo Piedmont 06
This is a even better wine compare to the Chianti. On the nose, it is intensely perfumed with roses, anise, cherry, orange zest, and a hint of herbaceousness. On the palate, medium bodied, complex, intense, medium tannin, and long finish. Good pairing as it intense enough to stand up to the mushroom risotto.
Bussola Ca'del Laito, Veneto 03
I think this is a Amerones/Valpolicella blend. It is unique and is considered a premium wine from Italy. Black cherries, red cherry, chocolate, herb, spice, and licorice, great length, layers, and structure. I find the wine good for washing out the nasty taste of that pork (i.e wine overpowers the dish). I am sure that is not what the wine was intended to do, but it would else be a bad pairing. It's the pork's fault.
Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d'asti, Piedmont 08
After four glasses, I couldn't really critique properly. Asti was delicious and perfumed. Dennis and Helen thought it smells like grape!
Dennis had a glass of Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancere, Loire France 08. It was pleasant, above average, and refreshing, but I believe Dennis preferred his scotch.
I would totally go back and order the Mare Set. Don't order the Terra set.
For more pictures, visit Peter's website