It’s a foodie’s paradise in Vancouver these days! Dine Out Vancouver is in full swing – between January 24th and February 6th, over 200 local restaurants have fixed price 3 course menus ($18, $28, and $38, depending on the restaurant) for diners to get out in the city and taste some of the amazing culinary delights available. I have never had the chance to get to any of the Dine Out events in the past, but this past week I finally changed that, with a visit to Westward Ho! Public House & Grill Room at the UBC Golf Course – with 20+ dietetics classmates while we had a 4 hour break between classes.
The menu at Westward Ho! had potential – only $18 (perfect for budget-conscious students such as ourselves), good variety, and right on campus. I was definitely looking forward to the lunch out, even if enjoying a glass of wine with my meal was out of the question.
Being the planner that I am, I had pretty much already decided upon my choices before hand (seeing as the menus are all online).
For my first course, I went with the butter bean and sun-dried tomato bisque drizzled with pesto and served with a toasted walnut and goat cheese bruschetta.
It was the perfect day for a bowl of soup – grey, dreary, and monsoon like conditions. On those kind of days, you want hot, steamy soup. Unfortunately, my soup wasn’t hot – at least, not as hot as I would have liked it. The flavour was great, a good hearty tomato soup. I think it could have been pureed to a smoother consistency, but that’s just personal preference. I really enjoyed the flavour of the goat cheese brushetta as well – even if I think I spied a few chunks of black olive in it.
Fortunately I had two classmates enjoying the other two appetizer options right beside me, so I nabbed some (somewhat blurry) photos.
Tempura battered scallops wrapped in bacon served with yellow pepper and beetroot sauces.
Mixed greens with honey drenched figs, prosciutto and crumbled Roquefort cheese; accompanied by house made hummus and grilled Italian breadsticks.
The scallops seemed to be well enjoyed by everyone who ordered them. I heard the sauces were not as flavourful as they would have liked. For the salad, many felt the blue cheese overpowered the rest of the ingredients, but it was easy enough to remove.
My entree selection was a pretty easy choice – Pinwheel of lemon sole, smoked wild salmon and spinach with celery root sauce, saffron cream and red pepper oil; served with buttered baby carrots and wild mushroom risotto. Seafood and a mushroom risotto? Yes please!
It was definitely the best plated of the dishes.
The combination of the sole, salmon, and spinach was delicious, and cooked well…except that it wasn’t served hot. I’m not sure if it was because we were a large group and they had timing issues in the kitchen, but it bugged me that neither dish was served at the right temperature. I also question their chef’s idea of risotto – it was more like a pilaf; nothing creamy about it.
Then there were the other selections.
Grilled Manhattan steak topped with a mixed bean and tomato chili; topped with a leek & apple fritter and served with baby roasted potatoes and buttered green beans.
Not sure if something went wrong with the plating here, but this is how it arrived at the table. I think it maybe should have been a neat stack? I did hear the steak was cooked well, the leek & apple fritter was delicious, and the potatoes were under seasoned.
Lamb and House Made Pasta Trio – Two grilled lamb cutlets with a red currant glaze surrounded by spinach and ricotta cannelloni with tomato sauce, wild mushroom ravioli with chanterelle mushroom sauce and herb-goat cheese pansotti with walnut cream sauce.
I don’t know how I feel about the plating, but I heard the lamb was great and just the right portion size, and that the pasta was decent as well.
So, even though it was lunch, we almost all ordered the dessert as well, because we had to make it through our class until 6:30 pm. There was only one choice when it came to dessert – Mini Dessert Trio – Hazelnut tart with fresh cream, goat cheese cheesecake with mango salsa and raspberry-apple and bread butter pudding.
Dessert deserves two photos.
My favourite (and many others) was the hazelnut tart. It was packed with hazelnut flavour with a nice pastry crust, and accented well with the dollop of whipped cream. The apple raspberry bread pudding is barely worth mentioning, as it was a) not a bread pudding, but more of a layer cake, and b) lacked any real presentation or flavour. Which brings us to the cheesecake – a goat cheese cake if you’ve been paying attention. Seems that many people found it to be, and I quote: “Very goaty”. I thought it was a great play on the traditional cheesecake. Sure, it had the tang of goat cheese, but it was still sweetened, and the fruit salsa provided a nice contrast to that tangy flavour. It would probably be a bit much if served in a larger slice, but as a mini dessert it was perfect.
Overall, I’d say the Dine Out experience at Westward Ho! was hit and miss. It was a fun social event with my classmates, and a convenient choice for a lunch time escape, with it being on campus and all. But the actual execution of the food left more than a little to be desired. Had my food at least arrived hot, I would probably be more forgiving for any of the other pitfalls. Alas, I can’t give the Westward Ho! a recommendation based on my experience, and can’t say I’ll be in any rush to go back.
Good thing I have another Dine Out event already booked – I can almost guarantee it will make up for this less than stellar lunch!