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We went for an early Valentine’s Day dinner to C Restaurant on February 12, 2011, wanting to use our Groupons for the 6-course tasting menu, which normally goes for $84 a person.

Walla Walla Onion Veloute

We arrived for our 5:30 seating and as the restaurant had just opened, were seated promptly in the lower level with a view, as requested when we made our reservation.  On perusing the menu we were a little mystified as we saw the Chef’s Grand Tasting Menu for $175 a person which I believe was 9 courses.  We finally asked the waiter and he said the 6-course was indeed available, which was the 9-course minus the foie gras, lobster and cheese plate.  I was quite relieved we were not getting the foie gras, more on that later.  We were not sure why the 6-course was not on the menu; it was not available for Valentine’s Day but he assured us it was for this weekend preceding… a little strange, since if you didn’t know it was there, you obviously couldn’t order it!  The website is not much better, as it lists the 6-course but only has 3 courses, with an additional two available as a supplement.  The suggested wine pairings ran $55 a person but we decided to order a glass of Napa Valley chardonnay each, instead.

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

C restaurant is noted for its adherence to sustainability practices.  All its seafood meets the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise guidelines and they promote the usage of local ingredients.  So we had to ask our waiter about the foie gras on the menu, as we know that the geese from which it comes are commonly force-fed to promote the development of a massive, fatty liver.  He didn’t miss a beat and said that the geese are not force-fed and live “happy lives.”  It is produced in Quebec, so not exactly local, but at least it is from within the country.

Pressed Veal with Pickled "Crones"

Our first course was the Walla Walla onion Veloute.  The bowl contained a 2-hour poached egg, a piece of Dungeness crab and some greens, and the waiter brought the soup in a little pot with a spout, gently pouring it into the bowl while explaining the ingredients, a nice little touch.  The veloute lived up to its name (it means “velvety” in French) with a sweet onion flavour.

The second course was the beet salad, with Saltspring Island goat cheese.  As this is a tasting menu the portion was quite small but packed with flavour.  The goat cheese was milder than most, with a very creamy texture which complemented the lightly pickled beets.

Trout on Risotto

Next, the pressed veal with pickled crones.  It was another salad with greens, slivers of lemon peel and a light dressing.  Yes, it says “crones” on the menu but further research reveals the true name of “crosnes,” a.k.a. Chinese artichoke or knotroot.  It is the tuber that we eat and it has a pleasant nutty flavour with a satisfying crunch.  The veal was somewhat like corned beef but we couldn’t help but wonder if the calves had led “happy lives” as well.

The main course was a piece of trout on risotto, topped with calamari and lemon slivers.  Some people may not like their fish with skin, but I found it crispy and tasty.  All the flavours complemented each other well.

Scallops on Pork Belly

After the trout came the bay scallops on pork belly, with breaded deep-fried crabapples.  The scallops were lightly seared and cooked to perfection so that they melted on the tongue.  The pork belly, on the other hand, seemed just like a hunk of fat.  My hubby thought they went well together but I just left the pork and had the scallops with the crabapple.

Dessert was a lemon mousse with slices of saffron-poached pear.  It was served with a runcible spoon, prompting me to recite lines from Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat.”  The lightness of the dish was a welcome finish to the meal.

Lemon Mousse, served with a Runcible Spoon

The service throughout the meal was fine, with each dish explained to us in detail.  We have always found the waiters here are knowledgeable and able to answer any questions we may have.  The only complaint we had was that my husband ordered absinthe as an aperitif and as such, it should have come before dinner, as it clashed with the onion veloute.  All of the dishes were presented elegantly and brought with appropriate gaps in between.  Our seating on the main floor of the restaurant was ideal, as the upper floor seems a little cramped.  On summer days, the patio is a wonderful way to take in the atmosphere of the seawall.

Pros: Meets Ocean Wise guidelines, good service, knowledgeable wait staff, great patio in summer, good deal with Groupon

Cons: Menu not clear, upstairs seating cramped and lacks view, can be pricey

C Restaurant is located at 2-1600 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC

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Point Zero Lounge & Restaurant bills itself as Japanese Fusion.  It is located on 1149 Granville Street just north of Davie, near the entertainment district.  DH and I went to check it out during their “soft opening” week on January 29, 2011.  They have been open for one month now.  As befits the “Fusion” brand, the décor is modern so do not go expecting a traditional Japanese Restaurant.  On Friday and Saturday nights there is a DJ so it was a little on the loud side, although still conducive to conversation.  We noticed a glitter ball on the ceiling but were not sure if there would be dancing later.  There are two huge projection TV screens on one wall so if you want to watch the game, make sure you are not situated directly under them.  No sushi bar, but a large regular bar.  The restaurant has ample seating, either booths or tables.

But of course, it’s about the food.  We were impressed by the variety in the menu.  A few typos, including a couple of mentions of “hot Koran sauce.”  Hmm, Japanese fusion with Islam?  When we inquired of the waitress, she said it was a hot sauce and brought us a sample, but never once did she say that it was really a Korean sauce.

L: Miss Piggy Roll. R: Bob Marley Roll. I know the Miss Piggy is named for the bacon in it, but it really looks like a pig, doesn't it? Maybe I'm just playing Angry Birds a little too much.

There is an extensive Martini list and a decent selection of beer and wines.  We liked that you could order as glass of wine in either the 6 oz. ($6.95) or 9 oz. ($9.95) size.  In most restaurants, you don’t even know what size you are getting, so this is a plus.  Even for a restaurant that is not traditionally Japanese, there should be sake available and it was, although not on the menu.  Some mixed drinks used sake as one of its ingredients so may be worth a try.

We ordered two appetizers, the chicken karaage ($8.95) and “sushi shooters.”  I guess I was expecting sushi in a glass like an oyster shooter, but it is merely a pair of seared tuna nigiri topped with chopped scallions and a little bit of ponzu sauce.  Still, quite tasty and at $3.95 for a pair, a decent price.  The karaage was a disappointment since the outside was quite chewy and dry.  It was accompanied by a “green salad” which was a small bowl of iceberg lettuce topped by a mayo-type dressing.  The lettuce pieces were too big and the dressing was just slopped on top so it wasn’t very appetizing.

The sushi fared a little better.   We ordered the Miss Piggy Roll (crispy bacon, scallop and asparagus top fish roe and unagi sauce, $5.95), the Fancy Roll (tempura prawns, mango, avocado and

cream cheese wrapped in a soy sheet, $7.95) and the Bob Marley (mango, avocado, tuna and wasabi mayo, $7.50).

Fancy Roll

The bacon in the Miss Piggy added a nice salty crispy touch but overpowered the scallop and even the asparagus.  It would probably be better paired with a stronger flavoured fish.  I forgot the fish roe was even there until I looked at the description and then at my photos, so they could use more of this ingredient.  The Fancy Roll was tasty, except my DH pointed out that there should not be a temperature differential in the ingredients in a sushi roll.  Indeed, the cream cheese was cold, but after letting it sit for awhile it warmed up and was much improved.  The Bob Marley was just right; all the flavours complemented each other perfectly and was the best choice of the evening.  We did find the sushi rice just a tad on the soft side in all the rolls.

One order of assorted tempura for $7.95 rounded out our dinner.  It was supposed to come with “3 large tiger prawns and a variety of veggies” but we had an extra prawn so that was a bonus.  Top marks for the tempura, not at all greasy and brought to our table fresh out of the fryer.  There are some intriguing items on the menu we didn’t try, including the electric banana roll (BBQ eel, avocado wrapped with tempura banana top (sic) eel sauce).  There are other Japanese items such as udon and ramen, yakisoba, various donburi (rice bowls), and grilled items.

Final verdict?  Not fantastic, but has some potential.  The pricing is a little on the high side but after all, this is downtown.  During the “soft opening” week all menu items are 20% off which makes it more palatable, and there are some online deals to be found with various “deal of the day”-type sites.

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