I was out for a fun Friday night. It began with meeting J and JT for drinks in Downtown. I picked Royal Dinette for happy hour and cocktails, as I was looking for the choices for my next Downtown Cocktail Crawl. Arriving at the restaurant, I realized it was the opening day of Dine Out Vancouver Festival, and they only have the happy hour drinks available, but not the happy hour food menu.
I took a peek at their $40 3-course Dine Out Vancouver menu, and was instantly fascinated. Since I needed to grab food anyway before my next destination at Brassneck, I decided to stay here for dinner, although I would be eating only by myself, as J and JT was having other dinner plans.
I was sitting by the rustic but chic looking bar. Our cocktails looked dashing on the marble bar top, with a back drop filled with terrariums and glass jars for bitters and spices.
The happy hour cocktails were mostly simple classics, and our choices turned out to be pretty tasty. We loved our bubbles, so we had the Kir Royale ($6), a marriage of crème de cassis and sparking, and the French 75 ($6), a mix of gin, sparkling, pressed lemon and orange bitters. I appreciated the extra effort of orange bitters for the additional depth in the taste. I also tried the Kentucky Mule ($6), which was mixed with bourbon, ginger beer, pressed lime and peach bitters, and served in the usual copper mug for all the “mule” variations. But as a lover of the ginger and whisky combination, I probably prefer a Penicillin instead.
Not too from the far right corner of the bar, there was a view of their pasta making station, where 2 chefs were making fresh gnocchi, which I found fun to look at.
I decided to dine with the wine pairing option ($25) as well, just to get the full experience.
I started with the Wagyu Beef Tartare, with smoked parmesan and dijon on the side, and also served with grilled house-made bread. Much more delicate than regular beef, wagyu also packs with a distinctive buttery flavour. And I liked the extra earthiness from the tiny bit of sauteed mushroom on top. The tartare was paired with Petradolce Etna Rosso 2015 Nerello Mascalese from Sicily, Italy, a light red that’s elegant and complements the beef tartare well. I did find the wine a little young for drinking by itself.
For the main, I had the Kasu Marinated Pork, with fermented barley grits, XO sauce and wild mushrooms. I enjoyed the bold flavour from the kasu marinade and the texture of the pork, but I was in love with the grits even more. It felt like eating a very thick congee with the XO sauce, packed with intense flavours from spices and dried seafood. It was something I was familiar with growing up as a Cantonese child. And the mushrooms tied everything together on the plate, forming a harmony of textures and flavours. The pairing wine was the Sea Star Vineyards 2014 Ortega from Pender Island, BC – bright, crisp, and with floral and fruity notes that tasted almost like apple or pear, which was great with the pork.
The dessert dish was visually striking, with that bright pink beet soda on top of the Elderflower Sorbet. The beet was a slightly overpowering with sweetness, and the elderflower flavour was a little lost. However, the rum preserved summer berries at the bottom stole the show for me. There were such little flavourful jewels! I liked the pairing wine, the Marcel Deiss Vendange Tardive 2009 Riesling, from Alsace, France, a slightly aged wine from late harvest with a sweet finish, exhibiting notes of peach and apricot.
The Dine Out Vancouver menu at Royal Dinette scored a high one for me. The dishes were well designed and executed, reflecting what Vancouver cuisine is all about – the combined efforts of beautiful local ingredients and the techniques from different types of world cuisines.
Website and menu: