Monday, February 25, 2013

Tableside Service at the Old Surrey Restaurant

Old Surrey Restaurant on Urbanspoon It's a house built in 1918 and has that old-fashioned look to it, as well as a certain dilapidated look that is contrary to the well-maintained interior, and totally unexpected compared to the bright and modern Bistro 72 sub-level.

One of the things that drew me to try the Old Surrey Restaurant was the various tableside service items. It's professional and old-school, and fun to watch. The calm confidence with which our waiter prepared everything, and the engagement he had with our table, was also an interesting contrast in tone/feel with the rather businesslike and somewhat rushed-feeling service at Black + Blue. While he did not make himself a part of our conversation, he was also clearly ready to engage with us however much or little we engaged with him.

This, I think, is part of the larger unrushed dinner feeling I got at the Old Surrey Restaurant. It was a Saturday night, and the restaurant didn't seem like it was ever even half full. The clientele was generally older, with the seniors dropping in shortly before 6pm. Seating felt a bit tight, but still with some privacy, and cushioned, wider-than-standard, chairs. This is the sort of place you go to when you want a slow, intimate dinner with good friends over good conversation that could last for hours. Our reservation was for 5pm, guests arrived by 5.30 pm, and we were done by around 9pm.

Soft Baguette
  • The increasingly rare tradition of bread at the table before your meal is maintained here. And with soft, warm bread! Not room-temperature rolls. Soft butter is already on the table, as part of every table setting.
Amuse Bouche - A short chunk of lamb sausage with mint (?) jelly
  • This was surprisingly tender and juicy, and not gamey, which is a common complaint about lamb.
Fresh Vancouver Island Qualicum Bay scallops flambeed with Sambuca & shallots, finished with creme fraiche - $12
  • Served in a big scallop shaped dish.
  • Lots of leftover sauce. Good thing we had bread at the table to sop it up.
  • Eat it right away when it's hot.
  • Lovely presentation, and pretty tasty. Four scallops for our table of four.
Chateaubriand bouquetiere, filet mignon with a burgundy sauce, carved and flamed at your table for two or more - $37.50 per person
  • Its basically cooked in the kitchen, and the final touches are done at the table.
  • Each portion of meat was maybe 4 ounces (?).
  • Each plate also had asparagus, a half tomato, and a couple of potato croquettes.
  • We all ordered this, and opted for medium rare, which was done perfectly. Generous amount of jus.
  • Very tasty, and so tender you could pull tear chunks of meat off with your fork. For medium rare, there was nothing chewy about this at all.
Crème brûlée - $7
  • Your basic crème brûlée, done perfectly.
  • The dish size is also much larger than what is often seen now, which is either a small but deep dish about 2 inches wide, or the wider but shallow dish. This this the wide dish, but about 50% deeper.
Cherries Jubilee - $18 for two persons - Cherries flambéed with cherry brandy, cherry kirsh & lathered over vanilla ice cream
  • I don't recall (or wasn't paying enough attention) that it was a from-scratch preparation that includes melting sugar in the pan. Instead, the tableside show was basically flaming the cherries and pouring them over ice cream in stemware glasses.
  • At $9 per cup, it's a pretty pricey portion for what you get.

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