Thursday, May 19, 2011

$7 Appys at the Granville Room

Granville Room Kitchen & Cocktail Den on Urbanspoon
I headed out for light dinner at the Granville Room on Wednesday night to help my bestest dining buddy get 1000 points with Open Table.

If you don't already know, Open Table lets you reserve restaurants, earn points with fulfilling reservations, and redeem those points for $26 Dining Cheques.

The Granville Room is a curious little hideaway on Granville. Even on the sunniest day, it's dark and basically black on the inside. Even the washrooms are very dimly lit and with shiny black toilet bowls.
And the music is loud. Not really recommended for getting together with your friend to catch up.

At around 5pm when we walked in, it was dead quiet with basically just staff there. According to the bartender, the hockey crowd doesn't swoop in till around 5.45pm, and they linger till around 9pm. Then there's a strange dead zone between 9pm and 10pm when the clubbing crowd comes in and stays till 3am.

On Open Table, the Granville Room offers 1000 points Sunday to Thursday starting at 4pm. Coincidentally, 4pm-7pm is also the time when they offer $7 Small Plates. "Everything" on their Small Plates menu is supposedly $7, and this is on top of their Weekly Features, which offer daily deals on selected food and drink items. And if all this isn't enough, our bill came with a customer satisfaction survey which promised a $10 coupon for filling it out.

We hadn't paid enough attention to the online menu to catch the $7 Appy offer and ended up with a mix of appys for dinner -- so it will be interesting to see if Open Table will still award my dining buddy her 1000 points because the 1000 point reservations come with conditions:

Please note these restrictions:
  • Bonus Points do not apply to all holidays or in conjunction with other offers or promotions.
  • Two or more people must be seated and each person must order a minimum of one entrée.
  • If you change your reservation or arrive outside of the stated qualifying Bonus Point Reservations schedule, your reservation may no longer qualify for 1,000 Points.
  • Bonus Points cannot currently be earned on OpenTable Mobile (OpenTable for iPhone or

Our final order was...
  • $15 three fine cheeses with accompaniments (dessert menu; yes, we had it before everything else)
  • $7 baked bocconcini (small plates menu; normally $12)
  • $9 steamed Saltspring Island mussels (small plates menu; normally $12 or $9 on Thursdays)
  • $7 breaded chicken wings (small plates menu; normally $12)
  • $6 Frangelico crème brûlée (dessert menu)
  • $12 two glasses of red wine (Wednesday special -- all wines $6 per 5 oz glass)
Altogether $62.72 after tax but before tip.

three fine cheeses with accompaniments
  • Morbier with shaved maple almonds is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese of france named after the small village of Morbier in Franche-Comté. The flavour is rich and creamy, with a slightly bitter aftertaste and a tasteless layer of black ash.
  • Bresse bleu with grilled balsamic pear. Its natural rind is soft, white, and edible. Inside is a creamy, blue veined mild cheese which is good all year round
  • Cave aged Swiss Gruyère with burnt lemon chutney a rustic, somewhat oily rind gives way to firm, smooth textured cheese which is slightly aromatic with a robust, assertive flavour
The star of the show, as far as I was concerned, for sheer interestingness. It's listed under desserts, but we had it at the very start while still perusing the appetizer menu.
The actual portions of cheese look very small, but each portion is rich with flavour and good for three or four tiny bites. Definitely sharable if you don't snort it down like a hog but instead take your time to piece the cheese together with its accompaniment into a portion that's bigger than a nibble but smaller than a full bite.
The plate came with a small bowl of what looked like original flavour Raincoast Crisps. This worked out well to help scoop up some of the cheese as we were provided with only three butter knives.

The Morbier was a bright white disk cut from the slab. No sign of the traditional layer of ash, which I had actually been looking forward to. It could have been a slab of goat cheese for all I knew. The shaved maple almond had hardened into a single chunk and had to be chipped/cut. I think the almonds could have been a bit sweeter, but this combination was otherwise okay.

The blue cheese was very mild. I'm not normally a fan of stinky fungus cheeses, but this one was so mild that its main characteristic for me was how soft and creamy it was. You don't get a full pear here. Instead, it is a round slab from the lower half of the pear, with the core cut out. This was an okay combination too.

The Gruyère came as a long stick. From a distance, it might look like a really fat French fry. Quite hard to cut with the blunt butter knife, but otherwise alright. There was nothing looking or smelling burnt about the "burnt lemon chutney". In fact it was sweet but not overly so and a tasty accompaniment to the cheese if you don't over-slather the cheese with it. There was also a single section of lemon peel which I expected to be very bitter, but was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't so at all.

baked bocconcini wrapped in smoked buffalo prosciutto, on a square of foccacia toast; pesto sauce; tiny salad
Compared to the other small plates, this one looked positively tiny. We could also have used a steak knife on it to penetrate the prosciutto. Overall okay -- it was as advertised, basically. Nothing outstanding but nothing wrong either. The pesto needed to be applied gently, as too much overpowered the taste. Very light vinaigrette on the token salad; not sure what it was. I wouldn't order this at $12.

steamed Saltspring Island mussels, curry butter sauce with cashews and cilantro, toasted foccacia
We hadn't thought to do it at the time, but we really ought to have asked for each appetizer to be brought separately instead of all at once. By the time we had each finished one chicken wing, everything had gone cold. And cold mussels just aren't tasty.
The other option for sauce was or white wine tarragon sauce with garlic and shallots. If we had known the foccacia would have herbs baked in it, I think we might have gone with that instead. The curry sauce was honestly not very good. It was thin and tasted more like some kind of soup jazzed up with curry powder than an actual curry. In any case, it clashed with the foccacia because of the herbs, and there was a bitter aftertaste to dipping it.
Technically this should have been $7 as it was on the small plates menu and fell under the $7 appy offer, but there were a fair number of mussels, and I didn't quibble over $2.

breaded chicken wings, Maker’s Mark bourbon bbq sauce
Of the appetizers, this was the most surprising because of the sheer quantity on the plate: You got eight drumsticks heaped on the plate, well-breaded (which increases its volume) but still easily twice as large as the more commonplace scrawny wings and drumsticks on your typical order of flavoured wings.
This definitely needed to be eaten hot and while it was still crunchy. In hindsight, we should have had just this one dish come out on its own so we could focus on it properly instead of spreading out to try the other appetizers, only to come back to it when it had gone lukewarm.
There are two sauces available: spicy jerk with jerk sour cream and Maker's Mark bourbon bbq sauce, which had intrigued me enough to order it.
If you didn't know about the bourbon you'd probably not have thought much of it. I'm not sure I'd give up honey garlic wings for these, but it's different and not too sweet. Of all the appetizers, this was the one plate that might tempt us to come back -- tasty and an ample portion that makes it a good deal during the $7 appy hour.

Frangelico crème brûlée with 3 hazelnut butter cookies
This turned out to be a disappointing finish to the meal, unfortunately.
We actually mistook the butter cookies for poor renditions of shortbread. They were alright, though the sugar sprinkled on them was a bit overkill, I thought.
On the other hand, the crème brulée wasn't very sweet -- the custard beneath was on the bland side in fact. They used the wide, shallow ramekin, and the dessert was sunken to almost half depth. The crunchy caramelized top had a bitterness that overtook everything, unfortunately.

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