Somehow I missed out on going to any Dine Out Vancouver dinners last year. I felt this was an epic foodie fail on my part, so I was determined to book at least one dinner this year. It’s a great way to check out new restaurants without breaking the bank – 3 course menus are either $18, $28, or $38. With over 200 Metro Vancouver restaurants participating this year, surely there would be at least a few menus that spoke to me. I was pretty excited to see one new restaurant I had heard good things about was participating, and that they had a drool-worthy menu. That restaurant would be Forage.
A little about Forage – they are a relatively new restaurant, focusing on locally sourced ingredients, very much in the “farm to table” style. The regular menu ranges from snacks to full plates, and is meant to be shared with your dining partners. Casual, comfortable, affordable, and very west coast – my kind of place!
Of course, I needed a dining partner, so I asked my foodie friend Karen from Toronto Girl West if she wanted to check it out. The answer was a resounding yes! Probably because she had such a great brunch experience there previously.
I thought the “candles” on the table were really awesome – glass jars with moss inside, and those fake candle lights.
From the time we stepped into the restaurant until we left with our bellies full, the service we received was awesome. It was nice to see that even though Dine Out was keeping them busy, they didn’t let their service slide. Our server was great – answered all our questions, catered to dietary restrictions, and was just a fun guy. A server can really make or break your restaurant experience, and he definitely made it.
Okay, so food. It was hard to choose, because everything on the Dine Out menu looked amazing (check it out here). Actually, their regular menu looked great as well, so it was *almost* tempting to forgo Dine Out and order from there, especially after seeing some of those dishes arrive at other tables around us. Just more reason to go back.
After weighing my options, I decided to start my meal with the Kale & Okanagan Apple Salad, with candied hazelnuts, quince dressing, and aged Golden Ears Cheddar. I will admit – I am not a huge raw kale salad fan, but I wanted to be adventuresome, and felt it was the best starter to go with my main, so I went for it. I’m not sure if they employ the whole “massaged kale” salad technique, because it didn’t seem so, but it was not overly bitter or tough. I loved the quince dressing – sweet and tart at the same time. The Golden Ears cheddar added a nice richness and saltiness to the salad, and you can never go wrong with a candied hazelnut.
Our lovely server offered us the option of adding on one of their featured house baked breads to our meal, and when we heard there was a flatbread topped with duck confit, we couldn’t say no. It did not disappoint – the bread was doughy and delicious, the duck confit adding the perfect amount of richness, with the creamy cheese (I can’t remember what kind), and a smattering of peppery arugula. We basically devoured this. I probably could have made this my meal and been perfectly satisfied.
For my main course, I went with the Pacific Provider salmon, with a red wine and balsam fir cure, kelp pasta, and roasted squash purée. How pretty is that dish? It was almost a shame to dig in, but I was glad I did. The salmon was a perfect medium rare, the skin was crispy (and I am not a salmon skin lover), the kelp pasta garlicky in a good way, and the squash purée buttery smooth. My only issue with the dish was that the squash purée was cold, which didn’t really work with the rest of the warm dish. I think it probably was warm when it was plated, but because it is “painted” on the side of the bowl, it cooled off quicker than the rest of the food.
Karen and I ended up switching our dessert choices because of her vanilla bean allergy. Sure, we could have had the same dessert, but I’m weird about things like that, and feel like I need to order something different, especially when there are only two desserts on the Dine Out Menu. I mean, we really should try as many items as possible, right? So I ended up going with the Summer Berry Preserve Frozen Parfait, with meyer lemon gel, and toasted meringue. Do not let it’s diminutive size fool you – this was the perfect sweet ending to a large, rich dinner. It was light, fruity, and balanced – I really enjoyed the sour meyer lemon gel in contrast to the sweet parfait. And how pretty is that delicate sugar work?
The meal, the service, and the atmosphere at Forage was great. I was impressed, and saw many things on their menu I would love to try on my next visit. In fact, I’m pretty sure after dinner was over I texted the boyfriend to tell him how good it was and that we have to go there sometime soon. If you are still looking for a Dine Out experience, see if you can get in at Forage. Hopefully you’ll have as good a meal as we did.