Monday, January 14, 2013

Interesting tastes at Forage

Forage on Urbanspoon You can enter Forage from the street, but I recommend you go the long way around from the Listel Hotel lobby. Along what at first looks like a desolate utility corridor you will find some kooky artwork as well as the location of the clean and comfortable-feeling washrooms (saves you from asking the server later).

When I was there last Friday for a 7pm dinner, the restaurant was very busy and buzzing with conversation, but the good spacing between tables helped with hearing my fellow diners.

Our server suggested that for a group of 6+ persons (we were 7), the sharing-plate concept at Forage was best done by placing two orders of each type of dish to share. So for six persons, you would have maybe two plates each of three types of items. In addition to that, each person would then order their own main. Dessert to be figured out later.
Normally I would have ordered something to share, but I had come to Forage specifically for three items I spotted on the menu and I wasn't sure if everyone was going to be into them. Besides, they didn't seem like sharing sort of things, despite what the server had said.

Pacific Provider salmon, Pemberton potatoes, "bread n butter" sea asparagus, pickled huckleberries $16
  • This came in a small, deep, cast-iron pan. Two chunks of salmon totaling maybe 2 cups in volume, plus the other stuff.\
  • The "bread n butter" refers to something being so good that all you really need to savour it is plain bread and butter.
  • The portion was a fair amount, but still pricey at $16. However, if you factor in tastiness, it could be forgiven, I think.
  • Normally I'm not keen on salmon because it tends to be drier, denser, firmer meat and a steak of it can have a monotonous feel. Here, the salty sea asparagus and the sweet berries combine with the taste of the salmon to give you a play of flavours rather than focussing strictly on the monotonous salmon. If you're sharing this, be sure to get some of the berries, and a bit of the sea asparagus (there isn't much of that).
roast bison bone marrow, parsley salad, crisp sunchokes $14 (picture)
  • I'd had bone marrow at The Greedy Pig and Pourhouse, both of which give you a baked stump of bone and you scoop out the oily marrow. At Forage, a long bone is cut open lengthwise and you get one half. It's a shallow quantity of meat, but if you put the length of it together, you're not getting any less than with the bone stumps served elsewhere.
  • Comes with coarse salt, of course, to help with the fattiness. But no pickles here; instead, a parsely "salad" (lightly dressed clump of parsely). Strangely, the parsely goes very nicely with the marrow, and seemed to have the effect of softening the fatty taste/feeling.
  • Ever since trying bone marrow at Pourhouse, I'd been curious about how it is prepared, and so far this roasted version at Pourhouse is the best, probably because it's the least oily.
  • You'd have to be a fan of bone marrow to get this here (or anywhere), especially at $14. Not recommended unless you're looking for it specifically. Not recommend if you're just casually curious. But if you had to have some, this is better than the oily roasted stump version unless you actually want a raw-looking soft jelly.
apple pie - black pepper short crust, honey streusel, quince jelly $8 (picture)
  • A really decent apple pie. What I was curious about was the pepper crust. It's not overdone with the pepper, and has a nice, interesting taste. Not really worth it just to try the crust, but if you like apple pie, it's a nice touch.
  • The crust was almost hard as thick potato chips or thin biscuits. Which made it hard to cut since it's the size of a burger. I suppose you could have picked it up in your hand since it's an entire smal pie instead of a slice, but there'd have been crumbs all over.
  • Came on a wooden board that was barely wider than the pie. Huge mess to cut it here. Especially if you're sharing, ask for a steak knife if one hasn't been provided, and as for it to be plated on a large plate to give you more room to cut without everything spilling onto the table.
  • Cut it by piercing the crust with the knife tip first then sawing your way out from the centre. If you just press down, you'll smush the pie. Maybe ask the kitchen to cut it neatly for you if you're sharing.
  • The quince jelly is a sharply sweet and tiny portion of jely in a small jar, topped with an airy foam of something. Nice to break up the monotony of the larg-ish pie (works out to slightly more than a regulation slice), but not particularly necessary if you're going to split the pie into 4-6 pieces for sharing.
Overall, there are some very interesting flavours and tasty combinations here. I'm definitely going to have to try the remaining desserts and order something more "normal" from the menu.

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