Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dine Out Vancouver 2014 - Graze

Graze on Urbanspoon
Graze is where the sadly short-lived Fray used to be. Although Dine Out Vancouver 2014 officially ended on Sunday, February 2nd, Graze is extending it till February 13th. During this time, all items are also individually available on their menu. On the 14th, they have a Valentine's Day special.

Their regular menu Small Plates are about $11, their Large Plates are about $17, and their Desserts are about $7. So the Dine Out menu basically saves you about $7 by giving you dessert with your meal.
Dine Out Vancouver 2014 menu ($28)
Salad of persimmon, pistachio and pomegranate with arugula & almond chevre (gluten free)
Fig & cashew pate filled chard rolls with a light cumin orange dressing (gluten free)
Winter Salad of lacinato kale with roasted golden & red beets, pear & fig with toasted hazelnuts (gluten free)
Organic yam & red pepper chowder, local corn, cracked black pepper, lightly curried, smoked paprika (gluten free)
Tagliatelle: Yam and parsnip broad ‘noodles’ with farro cakes & saffron coconut cream sauce
Steak & Mushrooms: Tea-smoked grilled tofu steak & pepita crusted portabello, beluga lentils & porcini-red wine sauce (gluten free)
Crepes: Basil & chickpea crepes with marinated & grilled seasonal vegetables & organic tempeh (gluten free)
Pot Pie: Roasted parsnip & garlic ginger braised organic kale, baked individually in a spelt crust
Mignon: Toasted almond & herb ‘mignon’, roasted carrot & grilled corn puree with sauteed red pepper & oyster mushroom in a juniper-tulsi glaze (gluten free)
Perogies: Yam & eggplant perogies, sautéed oyster mushrooms, crispy shallots, pickled beet shred, smoky coconut cheddar sauce, spicy tomato jam (gluten free)
Hazelnut macaroons with cardamom pear sorbet and vanilla creme
Cacao & rose-infused black cherry trifle layered with toasted cashew crumble (gluten free)
Lemon mousse filled cannoli, lavender coulis
Trio of hand-made truffles:  Coffee & Cacao  -  Grand Marnier  -  Herbal Liqueur & Ancho Chili (gluten free)
It's hard not to compare Graze to my recent experience at The Parker, where I had enjoyed the food greatly. The plates here are more "robust" in portion and feel, although with leafy vegetables, the portion may look more filling than it really is (sort of like how a leafy salad has volume but not a lot of actual mass). If you're a meat-eater or instinctively averse to strict vegetarian fare, their plating and menu wording can help with any experience of missing meat. I still wouldn't go for anything prominently featuring tofu, though (jus' sayin').

Dine Out Vancouver saw them solidly booked, but on Sunday night when I walked in, it was actually pretty easy to get seating at a bar-stool-height communal table that seats about 6. I just walked in and was seated right away.
For a busy place, I think they had just two floor staff, so initially taking orders was on the slow side. But drinks and food came out at a good pace afterwards.

Fig & cashew pate filled chard rolls with a light cumin orange dressing (gluten free)
  • The combination of curry-ish cumin and sweetness from orange makes this an interesting and tasty appetizer.
  • The thick stem on the chard also helps to add a solid crunch and a surprising amount of moisture.
  • The leaf will probably be crisp enough for you to bite cleanly through, but if it doesn't and you have to tear it free, some of the wet "pâté" spilling out the other end. Watch out.
  • Tasty, interesting, and recommended. Two rolls--handy for sharing.
Mignon: Toasted almond & herb ‘mignon’, roasted carrot & grilled corn puree with sauteed red pepper & oyster mushroom in a juniper-tulsi glaze (gluten free)
  • The deceptively described "mignon" came across as a fat potato cake in a thick burger patty shape. It tasted mostly like potato, too.
  • Remember to eat it with the tasty sweet goop on your plate. If you rush this, it'll just be a potato patty.
  • There's something bitter in them greens on your plate. Taste it first. If you hate it and can't quarantine the bitter bits, then eat it with your potato patty which, thankfully, is of a decent size to help you smother the bitter taste.
Cacao & rose-infused black cherry trifle layered with toasted cashew crumble (gluten free)
  • Remember to dig deep for the rest of the dessert. It is far too easy to just concentrate on the thick, rich, deeply chocolatey top and forget that there's other stuff in your cup.
  • This was ace. And thankfully I had lemonade to balance the rich chocolate. (I don't normally go for chocolate to finish a meal as that can give a heavy feeling.)
Graze's Organic Sparkling Lemonades ($4.50)
  • Comes in various versions. I opted for the plain lemonade.
  • This was actually really decent. Not particularly sweet, not super-sour. But definitely enough tang to wake you up. Toward the end, the ice in the glass watered it down too much, however. Try asking for less ice, or just chilled with no ice if that bugs you.

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