Monday, October 21, 2013

Taste of Yaletown - Yaletown L'Antipasto

Yaletown L'Antipasto on Urbanspoon Yaletown L'Antipasto has a solid Taste of Yaletown line-up at a decent value compared to the regular menu price. Overall, the food was tasty, but there were some oddities in a couple of items that threw us off. Whether this was a case of kitchen error or a choice on the part of the restaurant is debatable, but unless you're a conservative or perfectionist, it won't ruin your experience.

We had a later dinner at 8pm, and though it was still busy at the start, the dinner rush was clearly over and we had a relaxed time at this later seating, lingering past 10pm savouring our food and enjoying conversation and company. At this later hour, there were no lineups waiting at the door to pressure the restaurant to move people along, Taste of Yaletown notwithstanding.

Prior to coming, I had heard that the menu used to have smaller portions in their early days, but that is no longer the case.
I had also heard of speculation that some of the food was reheated. The kitchen is small to be sure, but there's underground dry storage (where desserts made earlier in the day are refrigerated) and I saw steaming pasta being prepared. Some of the plates (like salads) were basically assembled, so no (re)heating is required. It's hard to say how this reheated-food rumour started, but there was no sign of it and in any case it wasn't reflected in the food that came to our table.

The regular menu was not available, but the pasta choices on the Taste of Yaletown menu was available for ordering separately. (A few great pics from K. of Q's Quarter).

1st Course
Your Choice of:
Tuna Carpaccio
In-house cured albacore tuna loin made in the traditional manner of Sardegna, enhanced with some lemon zest infused olive oil on a bed of arugula with cherry tomatoes and capers.
Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio
AAA Alberta beef, slightly seasoned, drizzled with an intoxicating white alba truffle infused olive oil, served with traditional vegetables sott’ olio
Traditional Antipasto
Cured meats, prosciutto, mature Italian cheeses & antipasto vegetables & toasted bread
Insalata di Celeste
Organic spring greens, chevre goat cheese, dried cranberries, sliced almonds & balsamic vinegrette
2nd Course
Your Choice of:
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
This is a classic plate from Rome. We use cured guanciale from Oyama sausage on Granville Island, with a slightly peppered cream sauce
Spaghetti alla Vongole
Fresh spaghetti, manilla clams, garlic, dried chillies, white wine & extra virgin olive oil in perfect balance & finished with fresh parsley. Enjoyed all along the coast of Naples
Ravioli all Filly
Lobster & crab ravioli with a fresh tomato sauce & tiger prawns, sautéed with a little garlic and chilies, laid on a bed of arugula
Pappardelle Rosse
Thick ribbon egg noddles in an organic tomato sauce with braised boneless shortibs, beef tenderloin, checken breast & Italian sausage
Your Choice of:
Lavender Crème Brulee
Vanilla Panna Cotta

Tuna Carpaccio (normally $12; picture)
  • Tuna is tuna. This did not seem to be anything extraordinary.
Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio (normally $12)
  • Probably the best of the three. The truffle oil is generous here. You smell nothing but truffle oil, so you might worry that they may have used too much, but once it's in your mouth you do taste the meat.
Traditional Antipasto (probably a reduced version of their $23 share plate)
  • I'm hard to please, so this plate seemed to be the sort of thing that is useful for sharing with one or two persons. For a single-person plate, it's a wide variety of things, but nothing to write home about (which is not to say it was bad, just not extraordinary). I guess if you were worried about being committed to something that you might not like, then this is for you.
For the aforementioned appetizers, my experience is that they weren't so much appetite-whetting tastes but meat-appreciation plates. You get a small quantity of thinly-sliced something that you will hopefully know how to appreciate. I don't have that depth of knowledge so this was lost to me.

Insalata di Celeste (normally $8)
  • If you're hungry, this is the biggest plate, although the Antipasto plate did have two thin wedges of semi-hard cheese.
Ravioli all Filly (normally $22; picture)
  • This plate doesn't look like there is a filling portion on it, but only because the large ravioli squares were neatly arranged in a flat row instead of a piled up in a clump. It does work out to a reasonable meal.
  • Far and away the best choice if you can eat lobster and crab. The lobster flavour was very strong, though this is still not as superb as the lobster lasagne I had at Don Francesco's (which, incidentally, is still doing their 50% off anniversary special so it's an awesome time to go).
Pappardelle Rosse (normally $22)
  • The sauce was strangely... boring? A bit thin-tasting and not very flavourful. Seriously -- go for the lobster ravioli.
  • The pasta here had a slight "crunch" -- cooked through definitely, but a bit firmer than what I'm used to. This was the same with the Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Spaghetti alla Vongole that was also ordered at our table. The manager assured us that it was properly al dente, but those at our table who'd been to Italy disagreed. However, the manager did not sample the pasta off our plate, so it could very well have been a fluke kitchen error.
Lavender Crème Brulee (picture)
  • Strong, almost grassy smell of lavender, but not overpowering on the taste.
  • The crunchy caramel top had a surprising "smoky" aroma, and of the two persons who ordered this, it was so off-putting that one of them had to set that aside. Again, this could have been a fluke kitchen error or a bold variation. You decide.
  • The strangest tiramisu I've ever had. Came in a little pot instead of a cake-like block on a plate. Not my order, so I only got a sample -- but when I dug into it, I pulled out only white cream and nothing else. Hmm... Not a lot of strong espresso or coffee flavour either.
  • Sounds weird but worth a look if you're curious.
Vanilla Panna Cotta
  • The safest choice. Low on sweetness if you're watching your sugar.
  • We had the fruit sauce on the side, but I heard that earlier Taste of Yaletown incarnations had it right on the panna cotta. If keeping it separate and optional that is important to you, mention it to your server.
When the food was good, it was really good -- like the lobster ravioli. Service was friendly and attentive. The restaurant is a bit tight on space, so definitely make reservations if your party is more than two persons.

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