For about two weeks every year for the past several years, Vancouver foodies can be found at their most indulgent. It’s called Dine Out Vancouver and it presents diners with the opportunity to try a broad range of restaurants with a series of three-course prix-fixe menus. Our first Dine Out experience of 2014 took us to the Pan Pacific Hotel, which is connected to the Vancouver Convention Centre and the cruise ship terminal. It is there that you will find Five Sails Restaurant.
The dining room at Five Sails is not particularly large, but on a clear night, it does give a good view of the rest of the Vancouver Convention Centre, as well as the North Shore mountains. We were fortunate in that just the night prior, there was a heavy fog in the area and diners could barely see out the windows at all. Dine Out Vancouver menus come in at three levels: $18, $28 and $38. Being in one of the most expensive hotels in the city, Five Sails naturally opted for the most expensive price point, offering optional upgrades on top of that too.
Of the three appetizers, I opted for the tuna tartar. Just as Coast Restaurant tried to be creative by placing the fish on some crisp rice, Five Sails took an unconventional route and placed the fish on some crispy wonton skins. It’s an interesting idea, but I found the wonton skins weren’t really substantial enough to serve as an adequate textural balance. I would have also liked some more seasoning on the tuna itself.
For my main course, I continued with the seafood theme. This was quite a good value, considering that we got half of a good-sized lobster tail, a lobster claw, a small filet of sea bream and a couple of plump scallops. The broth reminded me of Southeast Asian cooking, possibly from somewhere like Thailand. It was quite fragrant and worked well with the seafood. The fish was forgettable, but the lobster and scallops were cooked perfectly.
I had a couple of small bites of the duck too. The skin had a great smoky flavor to it, but the texture felt a little off. It could have been seared longer and on a higher heat to provide a better contrast to the meat itself.
Both desert options took on the layered sandwich approach and had very pronounced primary flavors. You get a lot of lemon in the mille-feuilles and you get a lot of banana in the tango, but neither was overly rich. This allowed for a nice, delicate finish to the meal.
Come Sail Away…
I don’t normally have the highest of expectations when it comes to so-called “hotel restaurants” like Fleuri Restaurant in Sutton Place and, in this case, Five Sails at the Pan Pacific. Based on this Dine Out experience, that assumption still holds true.
Five Sails is hardly a bad restaurant; service was attentive without being pushy and the view was great. At the same time, it’s not a stellar restaurant either. The food was perfectly fine, but that’s exactly the problem: it’s only just fine. And I imagine that’s how it has been able to achieve such a high rating on Urbanspoon. There’s not enough to dislike here to give Five Sails the thumbs down, pushing just enough over the edge to receive a thumbs up instead. For my money, I’d rather eat at one of the many other great fine dining restaurants that Vancouver has to offer.