Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dine Out Vancouver 2015 FOUR-Course at La Buca

La Buca on Urbanspoon
Dine Out Vancouver FOUR-Course at La Buca

La Buca ("the hole") is a tiny restaurant in sort of the middle of nowhere (unless you love The Patty Shop and go there all the time). It's so small you have to go through the kitchen to get to the single (but clean and nicely appointed) bathroom.

They do the best they can with the small space, but the space between tables is a bit tight and more or less ends up having a long-table community-dining feel. You can't look left or right without looking all the way down and accidentally staring at someone. If you are a misanthrope who must not have any eyes on your person, then consider a later 8 PM seating for Dine Out Vancouver when things will be quieter, and there'll be a chance of more isolated seating (there are two rows of seats and everyone got nudged into the row that didn't have a straight sight-line into the kitchen), plus there won't be a third seating spilling out from the cubicle sized coat check area just in the door. Speaking of which: If at all possible, sit away from the door: Despite the heavy "curtain", you get a cold blast of air every time someone goes in or out.

We were there 8 PM to past 10 PM and had a very nicely unrushed dinner. For Dine Out Vancouver with really popular restaurants, I highly recommend a later seating. Everything is just more relaxed.

La Buca offers four menu sections for Dine Out Vancouver. You can choose from three for $38 or from all four for $48. They said they were flexible about it, but I don't know about choosing dessert four times. Desserts do have a good portion size, however.

DINE OUT
Dine Out Vancouver 2015
$38 three courses
$48 four courses
January 16 - February 1

Section 1
  • Insalata of endive, radicchio, whipped gorgonzola, pear, pistachios, honey-lemon dressing
  • Mussels soup, tomato, saffron, fennel, fregola
  • Porchetta, asparagus, duck egg, salsa verde
Section 2
  • Potato and taleggio cappelletti with bacon, onions, sage, walnuts
  • Spaghetti, spicy eggplant, San marzano tomato sauce, pecorino
  • Strozzapreti with lamb ragu, peas, mint, ricotta
Section 3
  • Veal scallopine saltimbocca, Smoked speck ham, White wine sauce
  • Spicy shrimp "Fra Diavolo", braised greens, white corn polenta
  • Crisp roast chicken, lemon, herbs, olive oil mashed potato
  • Fiorentina Steak for two ($10 per person supplement)
Section 4
  • Pannacotta with basil and passionfruit
  • Chocolate nemesis, raspberry puree, pistachio praline
Items and prices on this menu are subject to change without notice.

Insalata of endive, radicchio, whipped gorgonzola, pear, pistachios, honey-lemon dressing

  • I keep forgetting that endive is bitter especially when raw and I hate that. Other than the endive, this was actually a very nice salad. The occasional sweetness you get from the pear really helps with any bitterness, so pair those up if you can, otherwise give this a pass if you can't stand bitter veggies.
Porchetta, asparagus, duck egg, salsa verde
  • The porchetta portion looked like duck meat inside a generously thick roll of skin-on fat. Nicely cripsy fat layer on the outside.
  • The fat was on the salty side (and porchetta is usually heavily salted) and there's a LOT of it. If that's not your thing, you can certainly go sparingly with it and just have the meat if the waste won't guilt you.
  • Poached egg.
Potato and taleggio cappelletti with bacon, onions, sage, walnuts
  • This was really tasty though you get only three largish ravioli-like cappelletti if part of a 4-course. If you're not into salty, then this is a good option for you on this Dine Out menu.
  • Good combination of flavour and textures.
  • Generous amount of bacon and walnuts but I would recommend you don't overload your bite when it comes to the cappelletti in order to taste the filling.
Strozzapreti with lamb ragu, peas, mint, ricotta
  • I had a little of this to try and strangely it tasted like corned beef -- lamb making it slightly gamey. Pretty decent based on the sample I had.
Crisp roast chicken, lemon, herbs, olive oil mashed potato
  • Really nicely tender chicken.
  • Wow was this salty! Separate the meat from the crispy skin if you don't want too much saltiness. Not as fatty as the porchetta, thankfully. If you're into the forbidden pleasures of tasty fat in current diet-conscious times, then this is for you.
Veal scallopine saltimbocca, smoked speck ham, white wine sauce
  • Short strips of bacon sandwiched between to cuts of veal each slightly bigger than a deck of playing cards.
  • A tad on the salty side.
  • Nothing too special here if you are looking for interesting, but nothing wrong with this dish either.
Panna cotta with basil and passion fruit
  • A glass with pannacotta topped with a yellow layer of really tart passion fruit goop. REALLY tart. Like unsweetened-juice-from-a-lemon tart.
  • Not sure how to eat this because the passionfruit wipes out any other flavour and might do so even if mixed into the creamy white beneath. If you did isolate the pannacotta, however, you can taste the subtler flavours there.
Chocolate nemesis, raspberry puree, pistachio praline
  • Warm dessert.
  • Chocolate is delicious so there's not much to say here except that the portion size is pretty decent -- about 1 measuring cup worth of chocolate cake.
Summary: Great dinner in an unfortunately small space and a bit of an out-of-the-way location that is however great for free parking (certainly when compared to downtown Vancouver). Try the late seating, or just go after Dine Out.

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