Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taste of Yaletown - Hamilton Street Grill

Hamilton Street Grill on Urbanspoon

Hi Everyone!

As you know, Taste of Yaletown 2010 started last night (October 13th) and will run until the end of October.
It looked like a bit of a slow start because it was a hockey night (I passed by a couple of restaurants at ~7pm with just two diners at one table!), though larger places with TVs looked like they did alright.

I pulled a couple of friends along to the Hamilton Street Grill, as they'd never had the supposedly famous Gingerbread Pudding. This turned out to be horribly embarrassing... but that later.
Steak is steak so I gave the $35 menu a pass to try the bourguinon.

2010 Taste of Yaletown Menu
$25.00 per person (excludes taxes, gratuities and alcohol)
Choice of

  • Red lentil soup with a corn and chorizo salsa
  • Beef tenderloin Carpaccio with crisp capers, Dijon aioli, parmesan cheese, crostini
Choice of

  • Chicken stuffed with brie, sun-dried cherries and pecans, chicken jus and pinot reduction
  • Certified Angus Beef Bourguignon, nugget potatoes, garlic bread, organic greens
Choice of

  • Warm gingerbread pudding with caramel sauce, pumpkin and ginger gelato
  • Vanilla Bean Crème Brulé
  • Baked Cheesecake with fruit compote
  • Belgian Chocolate Mousse
  • Apple Tart with rum raisin gelato

We were started with tender, warm bread, though probably nowhere close to recently-oven baked -- and considering a lot of it probably gets thrown out, I suppose this practice of pre-dinner bread will probably disappear even more than it already has as time goes by.
In any case, if you do go for the bourguinon, you'll want to leave the bread alone for later.

I had thought to try the red lentil soup, but both of my companions chose that, so capraccio it was. Turned out one of my companions hadn't had it before, so I was happy to share it with her. Curiously, the crostini turned out quite salty for an already salty item.

The chicken was frozen out of our table, unfortunately. It did sound interesting, but I had had my heart set on the beef bourguinon so our table had the same entee all around. It came with a small salad on the side, two wedges/slivers of garlic bread (basically about a 6" long and about 1" wide at the base), which tempered the portion of food, but didn't help nearly enough with the salty bourguinon. This stew came in a rectangular dish filled to the brim -- the volume was approximately that of one brick of butter. Wet and thick with beef -- you could get away with using just a fork and leaving maybe 1 teaspoon of stew in the dish too tricky to extract with a pronged utensil -- even though the very largest items you can fish out of it was halves of nugget potatoes.
It was tasty, but definitely on the salty side. If you had the soup and you're on the petite side, your stomach might balk at using more bread to help with the saltiness.
My recommendation would be to not touch the bread at the start, go with the carpaccio for the appy, and go slow with nibbling at the garlic bread. The bread of the table definitely goes bite-by-bite with the stew.

For dessert, it was gingerbread pudding! Just one of us got cheesecake just in case the pudding didn't wow them. Turned out it was horrid.

Way back, when I first had gingerbread pudding, I suppose I was lucky enough to have had it done "right" -- or maybe that was the one mutant preparation that turned out to be the best way.
The first time I had it, the gingerbread was cut into small cubes, toasted enough that you could feel a crunch on the exterior, slathered with the (too-sweet) sauce and served immediately so it didn't reduce to a goop while sitting in the sauce.

The second time I had it maybe a year or so later, they goofed it up even though I was the only diner in the restaurant at the time (I ducked in as a walk-in before 6pm). The gingerbread came in a lump that was still cool at the core. The server admitted that this wasn't the way it should have been.

Last night, our gingerbread pudding came with the usual pumpkin and ginger ice cream scoops, the generous sauce, but the gingerbread itself was a mound of sauce-soaked mud, excessively sweet. Warm, but no toastiness whatsoever.
The server chalked it up to Taste of Yaletown mass production, which was unfortunate, as this was the Hamilton Street Grill's signature dessert.

If you do go to the the Hamilton Street Grill for the Taste of Yaletown, you'll find the gingerbread pudding on both menus. I would suggest you ask the server to make sure the kitchen gets it right, and possibly have just the one plate to share (as it is, well done or not, a very sweet dessert).

None of us were drinkers, but if you are, don't be daunted by the new blood-alcohol law. Instead, leave your car at home so you don't have to deal with crazy downtown parking, and instead take advantage of the Taste of Yaletown taxi voucher program.

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