Saturday, March 16, 2013

Way overpriced mediocre food at Curve

Curve Lounge on Urbanspoon Even with a $5 coupon and going for lunch, Curve Lounge is way overpriced for mediocre food. It's got some plusses for location and ambiance, but not enough.
I had been warned about this place by my Richmond friend, but since I had a coupon good for any BC Casino restaurant, I thought I'd give it a try.
I balked at the prices initially, but gave it the benefit of the doubt because the casino's fine dining restaurant, Tramonto, is upstairs and maybe from the same kitchen comes high-quality food. Well, if that's the case, then maybe the same mediocre food quality from Curve Lounge will show up in Tramonto... On top of that, the print menu is dirty and shabby. Could they not have at least clean menus? It's shortly after Noon on a Saturday morning. Surely it can't have been manhandled by guests already.

As is my wont, I looked for whatever was strange/curious on the menu. I asked my lovely server to suggest something along those lines, and this is how things turned out:

Raising Arizona ($22) "slow cooked bacon wrapped, pulled pork stuffed 10 oz. bone-in pork chop, smashed potato, bourbon creamed corn, grainy mustard bacon sauce"
  • No, that's not a typo up there. That is quoted from the online menu. The print menu is the same, except it has a space between "wrapped" and the first comma. It is supposed to say the 10 oz. bone-in pork chop is wrapped in bacon and stuffed with pulled pork (and that's what was on the plate). The side is smashed potato and bourbon-creamed corn in a grainy mustard bacon sauce.
  • I could have sworn the print menu said this was $19. Bill came out to $22, and it shows $22 on the online menu as well.
  • The side was actually really tasty. That's pretty much the only plus here. Didn't get a sense of any graininess to the mustard, nor a strong tartness from that, however, so if that is what you are hoping for to help you with the relentless amount of dry pig meat, this isn't going to do it for you. Mostly what you get is the sweetness from the corn.
  • Took something like a half hour for this to come out of the kitchen. They could've warned me about that.
    • This item is not on the regular lunch menu. The server brought over a "gluten free" menu in response to my inquiry about strange/weird menu items. It also shows up on the online menu under dinner. It *may* be that the kitchen was not ready to make this, hence the extra time. But even so, could someone have let me know? I might have nixed my order and tried something else.
    • When it finally came out, it wasn't particularly hot, which really surprised me. It was cooked through, certainly, and the plate was warm, but the actual pork chop wasn't hot on the outside. I knifed it to check the inside, and that was hot, but again not particularly so. The Lounge wasn't very busy, but I believe the kitchen also cooks for Java Jacks. In any case, it's not the usual "right behind that door" nearby kitchen setup, so maybe just walking it over cooled it down. Hard to say, but disappointing nevertheless.
  • If you are served this with just a table knife, immediately ask for a steak knife. Yes, I was served this with a table knife. I did give it a go with the knife in case the meat turned out really tender, but... nope.
  • The idea sounds interesting, but the actual execution is rather plain and boring.
    • The sauce is outside on the bacon, and there's hardly any of it, so you'll need to manage and ration it carefully because the pork chop is rather dry.
    • The pulled pork is even drier and didn't look or taste marinated at all.
    • For $22, just get a smaller but properly done steak. Even with no side, you'll still have a better experience.
Off the Hook ($9) pistachio olive oil cake, saffron gelato, pomegranate jelly
  • This *small* dessert is $9. A wedge of really good cake is maybe $6. If you're in East Vancouver it'll probably cost you the same except you get a lot more cake (like at Fray). A *small* dessert at $9 requires it to be an exquisite dessert.
  • The pomegranate jelly wasn't flavourful enough. Sorry.
  • The single small scoop of saffron gelato was okay tasting, but a bit too firm for this dessert. Trying to get even a little scoop forces you to press hard and smoosh the olive oil cake into a mess.
  • The olive oil cake was actually rather tasty. However, for $9, you got a small cupcake worth of cake. And since the other two ingredients, alone or in tandem with the cake didn't really enhance the experience, $9 is way overpriced. Way overpriced. Oops, did I just say that again? Interesting ingredients don't automatically make a tasty dish, unfortunately.
Mighty Tea tea ($2.50)

I did mention some plusses, and it basically comes down to location.
  • The casino is easy to get to by transit and has more than enough parking for drivers.
  • It's not a very busy place, at least not for lunch. You can meet friends there and walk to the bar or expect a table without a reservation. It's bright, airy, and central. For a large place like River Rock Casino, it's impossible to miss and an easy place to meet.
    • Sadly, there is also sometimes a casino security person who perches in a corner like some sort of dour chaperone. If you're facing the right direction, he'll be behind you and you won't notice. And when the place is barely active, he sticks out like a sore thumb and it really ruins the atmosphere for me. Maybe it's casino policy, but what the heck are they expecting him to catch?
  • Unlike other lounges, you can really expect only ambient conversation noise, which will depend on the current busy-ness of the restaurant. It's sort-of close to the theatre entrance, but far enough (behind the central info desk) that you're shielded from any sort of pre-show/after-show throng.

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