Yes, it’s that time of year again when all the amateur foodies flood some of the city’s finest restaurants and casual eateries. Dine Out Vancouver 2015 is now in full swing and unlike previous years, I only have one restaurant on my list for 2015. Late last week, a few friends and I (along with Adalynn) made our way to Cork & Fin in Gastown for their $28 Dine Out Vancouver menu.
The norm with Dine Out Vancouver is to offer a standard three-course menu with two or three options for each course. You start with an appetizer, followed by a main, and rounded out with a dessert. Cork & Fin took a different approach with a three-course savory menu: appetizer, mid-course and entree. As has slowly become the norm, Cork & Fin’s Dine Out Vancouver menu also features several upgrade options, one of which is to add dessert to the end for an extra six dollars.
Fresh Oysters: Upgraded to half dozen for $8 more
We started our dinner with the first upgrade of the night. With the standard DOV menu, you can have three fresh shucked oysters. For an extra $8, you can upgrade that to a half-dozen or you can spend $15 more to make it a full dozen. We were neither told nor offered the choice for where these oysters were from, but they were the standard small-to-medium kind of size, accompanied with lemon, horseradish, Tabasco and a vinaigrette.
They were all slightly sweet and slightly briny, as I like my oysters to be. With a number of buck-a-shuck happy hours around town, there is certainly no shortage of fresh oysters in Vancouver and Cork & Fin can hold its own in this regard.
Lobster Bisque: Brandied apples, charred scallions
I’m accustomed to lobster bisque that is a little more red in color. Even so, the Cork & Fin take on the classic soup was perfectly fine for what it was, offering a not-too-rich savoriness. There were two or three marble-sized chunks of lobster in there that were balanced off by the sweetness of the brandied apple cubes. Not remarkable, but not terrible.
Pate Breton: Bacon, fig, walnut, apple gastrique
For one of our second courses, we opted for a fairly sizable piece of pate. It was a good centimeter thick and about the size of a playing card. The pate was chunkier in texture, which made it a little more difficult to spread across the crispy baguette slices. I also wish there was more bread as the ratio was decidedly off here.
Octopus & Chorizo: Toasted brioche, salsa roja
The other second course features a few thick-cut slices of octopus with an equal number of chorizo pieces. Whereas the baguette with the pate may have been a little too crisp, the “toasted” brioche here may have been a little too soft. I did like the tenderness of the octopus.
Flank Steak: Sous-vide med-rare, confit potato, braised purple cabbage
As another upgrade, I ordered the sous-vide flank steak. My steak was cooked to a great medium-rare and, because of the sous vide, the usually cheaper cut of beef came out very juicy and tender. I just wish there was more of it, especially since this was an upgrade item. I imagine there was only four to six ounces here and it would have looked even smaller were it not pre-sliced. The little confit potatoes were simple but tasty too.
Arctic Char: Local, pan seared char, gnocchi, edamame
We were generally not as happy with the arctic char. The meat itself was just okay, but I really like having a far crispier skin with a fish like this, especially to offset the softer consistency of the gnocchi.
From the outside, Cork & Fin looks like it’d be a pretty hip place for dinner and, even looking through the standard menu, the pricing appears to be lower than many nearby alternatives. However, based on our Dine Out Vancouver experience here, the portion sizes are decidedly on the smaller side and the overall execution and creativity are mostly forgettable.
The total bill for two–including upgrades, one beer, taxes and gratuity–came to $95.