Saturday, January 27, 2007

West - For Free!

We had Dine Out Vancouver reservations at West today at the ungodly time of 5:45 PM. That was the best I could manage for a Saturday night. But what the heck... I have to get up early tomorrow for our Sunday long run anyway. And eating dinner earlier is healthier too, right?

So we drive down Granville Street and noticed that the traffic was really heavy right after 16th. Turns out there is traffic light not working and usually drivers here have trouble counting to four - which then makes the four-way-stop quite challenging of course. In any case, we find street parking near by and arrive right on time.

I thought that we may be the only ones in the restaurant that early... but not to worry. While it was not yet packed, there were already a few diners there. We had reservations for four, but it ended being just the two of us. The friendly hostess asked us to wait a bit while they re-set our table. And while we were waiting we overheard that there was a problem with the power and that parts of the restaurant are in the dark.

We were then let to table 19 -- this the table right in front of the kitchen. Some people may consider this a bad table because of the guest traffic to the washrooms and the general hustle and bustle of the kitchen and wait staff. I however think its the best table in the house - the chef's table! You get to watch the chefs preparing the dishes and still get a view of the entire restaurant.

Since I did not want to drink very much (running tomorrow and I was the driver) I asked our nice waiter for a non-alcoholic aperitif and he got a really yummy exotic fruit cocktail with a great acidity balance. Esther has a glass of BC sparkling wine.

The appetizers were fantastic -- Mosaic of Chicken and Foie Gras for Esther and Slow Cooked Hen’s Egg with Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Soup for me.

Our waiter suggested a glass of Shiraz to go with my main course -- I had the Star Anise Braised Pork Belly and Esther the Wild Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli; outstanding, absolutely fantastic! While we were chatting and enjoying our outstanding main course, all of a sudden the power went out. Poof! That's all she wrote. Emergency and candle light power only.

It didn't take the manager long to make the call that this is it - restaurant closed for the night! It was just about 7:00 PM now. I think with the power on shaky ground they have been sort of expecting it.

Lucky us, they had started to prepare our desserts already -- Dark Chocolate Caramel Parfait with Banana Blood Orange Mousse for me and Passionfruit and Pineapple Galette with Brown Sugar Lime Sauce and Passionfruit Ice Cream for Esther -- and told us that we will still be served the desserts. Nice!!

Just as we were done, our waiter came and told us that "naturally we would not be charged for our dining tonight as this is not the experience West usually provides". What? Really?? We had enjoyed a full and absolutely flawless meal. I would have understood and appreciated if they had taken the beverages off the bill, but cancelling the entire bill... wow! What an absolutely fine move on the part of the West team. Thank you West!!

So in the end the "ungodly time of 5:45 PM" worked out very much in our favour. Diners arriving at 6:30 PM may have gotten a taste of the fine home baked bread, but that's about it...

Pictures Esther took tonight