Monday, January 27, 2014

Dine Out Vancouver 2014 - The Parker

The Parker on UrbanspoonThe Parker was very busy on the Friday night I dropped in for Dine Out Vancouver. They were basically fully booked all night, but walk-ins can try sitting at the bar. For the lone diner (like myself), this worked out just fine. "Larger" parties of 2-4 with no reservation could expect a wait of a half-hour or more. It's a very small place!

The bar seats, however, have no back to them so you definitely don't want to be too relaxed here and accidentally lean back. Handy purse/jacket hooks are all over the place -- just look under the table.
No stickers on the door (they just don't like pasting stickers there) but they do take credit cards. Better ask about American Express, though.
Dine Out Vancouver 2014 Menu ($28)
Appetizer
Chaat - Gluten Free & Vegan
Roasted Yam, Red Potato, Black Chickpea, Chili Strings, Pomegranate Molasses & Mint ChutneyBC VQA Wine Pairing: Joie '12 Muscat
or
Cauliflower - Gluten Free & Vegan
Roasted Parsnips, Mizuna, Pea Shoots, Vadouvan Granola, Confit Garlic-Cashew Creme
BC VQA Wine Pairing: Liquidity '12 White Blend
or
House-made Tofu Quenelles - Gluten Free & Can be made Vegan
Braised Beans, Pea Shoots, Cantonese Black Bean Sauce
Entree
Panisse - Gluten Free & Can be made Vegan
Winter Sofrito, Roasted Roots, Pistachio, Raisins, Spinach Emulsion
or
Pastina - Can be made Vegan
Seared Broccolini, Beluga Lentils, Chive, Chervil, Pinenut-Arugula Pesto, Grana Podano
BC VQA Wine Pairing: Noble Ridge '10 Pinot Noir
or
Cannelloni - Gluten Free & Vegan
Butternut Squash, Duxelles, Barley Risotto, Celery Root Purée
Dessert
Tapioca Rice Pudding - Gluten Free & Vegan
Candied Quince, Coriander Pineapple, Lychee Sorbet
or
Almond Panna Cotta - Gluten Free & Can be made Vegan
Juniper & Vanilla Poached Pears, Crushed Almonds, Toasted Milk Mascarpone or Pear Sorbet
For Dine Out Vancouver, they have lots of gluten-free and vegan choices. They also have a "chef's choice" option, where, instead of picking the menu items, you let the chef choose your appetizer, entree, and dessert. I stipulated gluten-free AND vegan, and I got the Cauliflower, Panisse, and Tapioca Rice Pudding. The amuse bouche was a single piece of salt-roasted sunchoke.

The amuse bouche looked like a cube of roasted potato. For something that sounded really simple, it was actually very tasty and appetite-whetting!

For a vegan place, the food was happily not salad-looking. Presentation was an interesting chaotic-looking composition. Flavours were good, with a variety of textures on each plate. Many interesting ingredients and components to each plate. The tapioca rice pudding as a dessert worked very nicely to give a light and refreshing end to the meal.

Portions looked medium and the somewhat understated addition of the panisse helped make it adequately filling without being too much food.

Overall, flavour, texture, presentation -- all ace. If their Dine Out menu is at all indicative of what they normally do, then The Parker easily rises to the top as my go-to place for vegan fare.

I asked around for a fresh-squeezed juice, but it wasn't available. The bartender had a variety of bottled options and offered too many suggestions for me to remember them all. In the end I asked for the "most interesting" and he suggested a pear-and-vanilla cocktail.
I could taste both, but it felt a little "watered-down". At that point he offered to put more vanilla flavour into it, but I passed. I would have liked a stronger pear flavour but that didn't seem possible. $5.

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