Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Fish House - Restaurant Review

Ever since The Cannery closed down, V. has been asking for Salmon Wellington. Fortunately, some favourites from The Cannery menu were passed on to The Fish House at Stanley Park.
The Fish House is not as impressive looking as The Cannery, but it has a certain green and white historic home charm to it. It looks out onto a mini golf course and some nice green lawns and trees, and you can see the shore and water in the distance. Not-so-impressive is the tennis course beside it. It's okay, but it's no Wimbledon :P
We ordered one of our favourites from The Cannery - the sizzling cast iron mussels. We've been drooling about this for months now. The cast iron skillet is more shallow than the one we were used to so there was less juice, but the mussels still tasted good. The chorizo sausage had the same tangy goodness we were hoping for, but they were coated with coarse salt. Mind you, salty can be pretty tasty, so we just ordered some extra bread and had at 'er.
If I could improve it, I would have more juice on the bottom like I remember, and I would have the chorizo sausage better cut up and spread throughout. The chorizo sausage in our mussel order was cut, but still connected together. And while I liked it salty, I think it was actually too salty. Without the extra bread, it would have been too much.
V. got the salmon wellington and declared that it was just as good as he had remembered. Good job, The Fish House!
I decided to try something different and went with the salmon bake. As you can see, it looked wonderful. A nicely grilled salmon sits atop of a bed of creamy cheesy spinach, and slices of golden potato. There's a wedge of yellow beet, which is quite good, asparagus stems, and kale.

Now, I went to The Fish House a long time ago and I distinctly remember delicious kale that was stir fried lightly with oil and salt. It was the first time I had eaten kale and I loved how green the kale was, lightly tossed in oil, and how the salt gave it a bit of bite.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case this time. The kale is probably more healthy, but it's bland. It's blanched or boiled, rather flavourless, and definitely doesn't look slightly shiny with oil. It's also less dark green. I ate a few leaves and left the rest.
Now, before I begin on the dessert portion, I should mention that they messed up my main course. The salmon bake comes as pink salmon by default, but I had upgraded to the sockeye salmon option when I made my order. However, the pink salmon arrived anyways. I pointed this out to the waiter and he attempted to change the salmon for me, but I really didn't want to wait for a new salmon to be made so I told him to just let it be. He assured me that he would change my bill so that I wouldn't be charged for the salmon upgrade, and he promised to treat us to some dessert on the house.
I ordered the rhubarb and berry crumble and asked for a small side of raspberry sorbet. He did me better and brought two raspberry sorbets instead of one, and added two bite-sized truffles with strawberries. Good man!The rhubarb and berry crumble was warm and toasty. It was pretty good except that V. ate all the topping and left all the rhubarb :P After that, it just didn't look good any more.

This dessert is not very heavy. The scoop you see is actually whipped cream, and the dish is very shallow.
I'm a huge fan of raspberry sorbet, and this dessert definitely arrives with style. I love the icing sugar dusted mint leaf, which gives a hint of flavour to the sorbet, and the simple cinnamon biscotti on the side is pretty, crisp, and good. The sorbet itself, however, doesn't live up to my standards. I would describe it as having too much gelatin in the recipe. So while the flavour is okay (I would actually like it a bit more tart), the texture is too much like frozen jello.

I don't really get it, but V. complained that it was too cold. In general, he's not a big fan of sorbet, so I didn't expect him to like it.
These little bite-sized truffles were a bonus. They look pretty enough with the tiny strawberries and mint leaf, but I didn't find them particularly delicious. V. liked them and made good work of them, but I found them a bit too waxy in flavour and texture. I would have preferred them a tad bit more rich and flavourful considering how tiny they are, and I honestly just didn't know what kind of flavour to expect from them. Whatever ideas I might have had were unfulfilled. Creamy would have also been a more desirable texture for these truffles.
In terms of service, it was horrible. We sat in a corner and the waiter and his assistant magically passed from the couple in front of us to the couple beside us without giving us a glance. We would wave our hands to catch his attention, but he would seem too immersed in his conversation with the other couples to even acknowledge that he had seen us. Considering that he walked away immediately following his conversation with the other couple he actually DIDN'T see us, but that's even worse because it would imply truly horrible peripheral vision. Sometimes I wondered if he was purposely ignoring us because it seemed impossible that he could never see us waving at him or calling for him. His assistant was more receptive, but he was usually completely involved in setting up tables and laying down cutlery with very acute attention to detail.

It took a very long time before we were able to notify the waiter that my salmon had been messed up, by which time I had eaten almost half of my dish. It was the assistant that finally noticed us trying to get his attention, and he must have taken a while to let our waiter know because our waiter didn't come over to address the issue until I finished even more of my fish. V. was not impressed.

After they had messed up my order, they began to pay more attention to our table. The waiter apologized for the mess up, blaming it on the computer. He also apologized for the lack of service, blaming the assistant for being not up to par. His attempt to make up for the errors with complimentary desserts and lots of apologies was appreciated, but I really wish that the service had been better right off the bat because the food itself was really good. If service had been better, I would have overlooked the exterior of the restaurant and declared it my new favourite. As is, I think I prefer Raincity Grill more.

What about you? Would you eat here? What factors affect your decisions in choosing a restaurant?

1 comment:

Malea said...

Oh. My. God. Those dishes look soooo yummy! And, I LOVE salmon! I've never heard of salmon wellington...I bet it is divine! Will have to look for a recipe... Lovely pictures too!