Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ensemble, Vancouver, Top Chef Eatery

Roasted Beet Salad

I had chef Dale Mackay pegged to win Top Chef Canada by episode 2. And I was right, this guy can cook, not to mention that (from the show perspective anyway) he is ultra competitive, passionate and has a single minded  intensity that I think translates well to owning and running your own reaturant.
Enter Ensemble, Vancouver’s newest celebrity chef joint
I've had the opportunity to eat at Ensemble a couple of times now and here are some general impressions.
The restaurant is cosy if not a bit dark. It has the feel of a mom and pop place but mom and pop consulted with a slick modern designer first feel. Did I mention it was dark? The bar throws me off a bit as well, it takes a whole back wall but has only a small booze display that look budgety. The staff are friendly and attentive but not polished. I like the casual approach.

The menu is all about small plates. Order a bunch. Try a few different things. The suggestion for a typical meal are 4 plates (includes a desert). Still theses are small plates and I can see how a big eater might get into an uncomfortable financial position if they were to order with abandon. Hey, I know these people. These people are upon occasion me.
There are very many interesting and yummy things on the menu:
Here's a few of the things we had.
Sorry about the quality of the photos (did I mention it was dark)

I liked Ensemble

                         Sweet and Sour Eggplant

An Item voted Van Mags Best things to Eat and Drink in Vancouver 2011 – agreed, this was a standout favourite, Baba Ghanoush, Yogurt, Tomato all marry together, fabulous.

Pulled Pork Sandwich
The pulled pork, a dish Dale did on Top Chef. It was good but ya ok nothing to stand on the roof and scream about. The deep fried pickle was interesting if not a bit dry. How do you make a pickle dry? I didn’t get the watermelon, why was it there? Sorry, I’m just channelling a Top Chef Judge.

                                    Potato Gnocchi
Potato Gnocchi, soft, light, nice. But then so was the tomato sauce. It was ok.

I love raw oysters. When I come across oysters on the menu I linger. I quickly scan for something else and then I order the oysters. Yes these oysters made me happy.

Cornmeal Crusted Scallops
With Tamarind-Date Purée, Cauliflower, good, if you like that kind of thing.

Beef Shin and Fritz
The beef shin was a surprise. Imagine taking a tough piece of meat, which for sure shin meat has to be. Cook it, probably boiled for hours until the meat falls of the shin. The meat would be in long strands. Take these strands add sauce and flavorings and pack into a tube mold. The result, a very unique texture, almost a stringy pate, but it works, this was really cool and tasty.

                    Chocolate Fondant
              Hazelnut-Nougatine Ice Cream

No comments:

Post a Comment