Monday, February 28, 2011

Gourmet Vegan Dinner at Joe Fortes

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon

Yes, you read right: Joe Fortes. That bastion of steak and seafood actually turned out a 4-course gourmet vegan dinner for Earthsave's Vancouver Meatless Meetup dine out event.

Our four-course was...

Roasted Red Pepper Puree, truffle gnocchi
Artisan Greens, champagne vinaigrette, sea salt
Smoked Portobello steak, crushed potato, grilled asparagus, pickled red cabbage, fresno chile sauce
Vegan Chocolate Mousse fresh berries

Our table was started off with unlimited bowls of baguette slices, and small plates of olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction sauce (which makes it sweet, like an oyster sauce).

The roasted red pepper puree tasted remarkably like Campbell's Tomato Soup. The salad ("artisan greens") was okay -- Your basic small salad with a delicate vinaigrette. So far, ho hum.

There was a remarkably long wait before the mushroom steaks finally came to the table. Happily, it was worth the wait. Curiously, although the large portobellos were juicy and delicious, the asparagus seemed to impress our table the most. They had been grilled very nicely, no longer tough but also not too tender; and dressed in a very delicious sauce. Even professed asparagus haters at the table were converted.

The Vegan Chocolate Mousse was very smooth, thicker for the use of avocado, but without any avocado flavour. The berries had just a touch of liqueur to make it a bit more interesting.

Overall, not bad for a menu pieced together at the last minute because The Helm was having hiccups (staff on strike). The four-course prix fixe came to $43, which included tax and tip, drinks extra.

Some at our table had a coffee to finish, and here was the first real error in the entire evening -- real milk. A bit of a no-no for a vegan table. The person who organized the dinner had worked at Joe Fortes before, and she explained that the restaurant did not normally stock soy milk, so it was probably just an oversight as the plates of milk and sugar were prepared en masse each day and the servers were probably on full autopilot when they brought them out to go with the coffee.

In case all you non-vegans are wondering what the big deal is about milk, it was explained to me that veal is a byproduct of dairy.

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