Monday, March 18, 2013

Strange Curry at Mandalay Lounge & Steakhouse

Mandalay Lounge & Steakhouse on Urbanspoon The restaurant sign for Mandalay Lounge & Steakhouse has a one-tusked elephant on it. Hmm... That, plus the decor, made me think this was a south east asian restaurant, except it also says Lounge and Steakhouse. They do serve steaks, but also have a menu of comfort food type items.

There's a downstairs, a quieter upstairs, and an upstairs patio that is positioned for a nice view, except that the brown water at the mouth of the Fraser River, and the sliver of Shady Island, isn't really all that great a view (but that's just my opinion). I can see how it'd be a lot nicer if the sun ever comes out and we have a proper spring and summer.

The staff are super friendly, and if you're not careful and engage your server in conversation, they might end up a part of your table if it's not terribly busy and they can stop to chat. I suppose some people are into that and like to chat up their server, so it's in large part up to you to just stay focussed on your dining companions if you want a more private time.

When we were there on Friday night close to 7 pm, it seemed well-attended for dinner service downstairs, but there was still quiet room upstairs. It wasn't so booked up that there was any pressure to vacate after, so if you're looking for a relaxed, lingering time with friends for dinner, you could try reservations for a table on the second floor.

Food is... OK. Strangely it wasn't particularly flavourful despite how it sounds on the menu, and for that reason the price seemed a bit on the high side. It's not bad food, just not particularly good either. Steveston prices? Maybe. Fine dining prices? Definitely. Still food isn't everything in the price. There's ambiance and service, and Mandalay Lounge & Steakhouse has some of the former and a good amount of the latter.

Post Office Artichokes ($9) Our signature appetizer made fresh in house. Artichokes, parmesan & swiss cheese married into a phyllo pastry parcel. Thai chili sauce and a fresh cilantro salsa.
  • Two average-sized spring rolls. Which struck me as pretty pricey at basically $4.50 a piece.
  • Strangely bland even with the parmesan and swiss cheese supposedly in there.
Mandalay Prawns ($12) Mandalay garlic spiced pan-seared black jumbo tiger pawns.
Finished with a savoury cafe de paris butter.
  • Jumbo prawns all right. No skimping on size here.
  • I remember feeling "prawns are prawns". For a $12 appy, I was expecting something more wow, though.
Moo Shu Crab Cakes ($8) A duo of our famous crab cakes on a light bed of mixed green &
Lychee Creme Fraiche
  • Two average sized crab cakes.
  • I remember these weren't particularly crabby tasting for some reason. I even tried isolating some of the inside of the cake and tasting it without any sauce whatsoever. Nope, still not crabby tasting. On the bland side, actually.
  • How it is "Moo Shu" anything is unclear to me.
Lamb Chops Marrakesh ($13) A trio of Moroccan style lamb chops, charbroiled and accompanied
by a mint chimichuri
  • Sometimes people worry about lamb being gamey. Not so here. Pretty safe as far as meat goes.
  • Each piece was about the size of a pack of cards, if I remember correctly.
  • Go easy on the mint chimichuri unless you want to smother all the flavour on your meat.
Red Thai Chicken Curry ($17) Spice rubbed chicken breast finished with a delicious Thai Curry
sauce. Complimented by a poached pear on Mascarpone tandem,coconut rice and seasonal vegetables.
  • Read the description carefully. This isn't a curry dish that you might get from an Indian restaurant. You get a "sauce" quantity of Thai Curry. Basically that was like four tablespoons or so worth. Not even a bowlful. It's just poured in a stripe on your plate.
  • Chicken breast came pre-cut into rounds / medallions. Spice-rubbed or not, you really needed the curry sauce to make this interesting.
  • The poached pear and curry combo is odd, but our server insisted that it was good eaten together. I didn't think it was particularly special, but it might do something for you.
Chocolate Lava Cake ($7) A decadent baked chocolate cake with a molten center.
  • Lots of gooey molten chocolate in here. Sometimes lava cakes get overbaked into biscuits or you just don't get a lot of "lava". Lots here, and not burn-your-mouth hot.
  • With lava cakes, presumably part of what you are paying is for them to seal in the molten chocolate so it's hard to compare this dessert with a slab of chocolate cake and thick chocolate sauce poured over it, even if you do get twice the volume. I think $7 is okay here for a fine dining establishment.
  • There's a lot of chocolate here, so if you like chocolate you won't mind it being $7.
NY Cheesecake ($7) Our very own legendary dessert made in house.
  • A bit short for a New York cheesecake, but otherwise a really decent dessert with two types of sauce on it to break up the monotony of just a slab of cheesecake. (I forgot to ask what type of sauces they were, however).

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