A lot can ride on what the TV says. Think about it: an electronic box that you paid hundreds of dollars for is constantly throwing new information, such as news reports on everything from cats stuck in trees on fire or rioters destroying the downtown core, at you, the captivated viewer. Through it all, you’d think that the entertainment we’d choose to partake in would be a welcome relief from all these stress-inducing images, but it’s the exact opposite. Instead, we enjoy watching grown men skate around chasing after a puck and beat each other up, earning millions of dollars and honour for their homecity. So, what happens when one city just comes so close to snagging the glittering prize that is the Stanley Cup? For what would turn out to be the penultimate decision, Iatt, Stephy and I met at Joey Bentall One to watch this milestone.
Although the game wouldn’t be starting until much later, I decided to head over at 2pm to snag a table for 3. Unfortunately, it appeared that even this was too late of an hour to begin waiting, as there were quite a few people ahead of me in line already. I noticed that as I waited there by myself for the better part of an hour, I was completely ignored by the hostess, who instead opted to chat up everybody from the wealthy businessmen to the new mothers with their offspring in tow. Everybody else received complimentary flatbread and free water while I anxiously waited on the bench wondering if anybody else would ever get there so that I could actually get a table, since half of my party had to be present for this. In the end, we were stuck out on the patio, where we had a clear view of the screen but could barely hear the proceedings of the game at all. It was either that or nothing, so we just ended up sticking through with it. Their patio is a very comfortable extension of their inside dining area, with wooden tables but slightly less comfortable high-chair seating. Our server was much friendlier than the hostesses working up front, although the busy nature of the night resulted in some wavering absences and gaps.
After all that waiting, starting off with a couple drinks was a necessity. Stephy and Iatt ordered a bellini ($6.99) right away (really manly there, Iatt). This was made from Appleton V/X Jamaica rum, real peach, sparkling wine, and sangria. Sounds a bit more promising than Cactus’ version.
I ordered a super sonic gin & tonic ($8.49), a 2oz drink made from Tanqueray gin and tonic with the addition of citrus slush. The slush was a great touch to my favourite mixed drink; it really brought out the soda without overpowering the gin. The cup was also a bit more manly… right?
The three of us decided to order a few appetizers to start. The first of these were the yam fries ($7.99), with truffle lemon aioli. The fries were somewhat soft and had a strong yam taste, although they could have been slightly crispier. The dipping sauce was certainly a step up from Cactus Club’s, though.
Go on and think it: why Asian food at a western restaurant? I think Stephy and I just enjoy doing this; maybe we get a little homesick? Nah, I was born in Ontario. Nevertheless, we ordered a plate of chili chicken ($11.49). The chicken was cooked in a light tempura style with Chinese chili sauce and cool cucumbers. Typical with these types of dishes at Western restaurants, the flavours are definitely tossed together to appease a typical consumer from their demographic. The chicken was certainly quite tender with a nice coating, but the chili was slightly too sweet to taste. Overall, not a bad dish for what it is, but don’t expect authenticity in terms of flavour. I suppose their menu is described as “globally inspired,” prompting the addition of these types of dishes.
The Earth & Surf calamari ($11.49), with tempura vegetables and roasted red pepper aioli, certainly seemed to follow Joey’s glowbal inspirations. The calamari itself was prepared well: crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, acceptably cut pieces. The tempura vegetables were certainly interesting and not a bad touch. Again, the dip was a step above other reincarnations of this dish from other locations.
Iatt decided to try to redeem a few man points right around then by ordering a Hawaiian Hi Five ($8.79). Try is definitely the key-word here, although this 2-ouncer contains tropical fruit juices, Parrot Bay Coconut rum, Smirnoff Orange vodka, and some citrus slush. Sounds like a great combination, but it is nonetheless a pretty girly shade of blue. Nice try, Iatt, nice try.
After all that fun, we had to get down to business at some point with the mains. Stephy ordered a pesto shrimp flatbread ($13.99), pesto shrimp with whole milk mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes and garnished with chipotle aioli and fresh basil. Joey’s flatbreads are known for being crispy and prepared well, and this dish was certainly not an exception of that standard. With big chunks of shrimp baked inside, I can only dream of eating this. Darn it, allergies! Perhaps I could’ve sampled their flatbreads while I was waiting for a table, but…
Iatt definitely scored a home-run with man-points in his order of a 12oz New York striploin($30.99). I recall there being no major problems with how the steak was cooked. The sides, seasonal vegetables and crispy mashed potatoes, were interesting, though: the crispy mashed potatoes were actually spring rolls with potatoes inside. I found this to be a nice and creative deviation from the typical taters that accompany slabs of meat.
I myself ordered the viva salad($15.99), which contained roasted chicken with sundried cranberries, avocado, apples, and feta, with a honey balsamic vinaigrette and cilantro garnishing. Summertime is the best time to eat salads because most restaurants will roll out something fruity, nutty and cheesy at the same time: what more could you ask for? After all of the creativity imbedded in the other dishes, I found this to be quite standard, although still a delicious salad from all of the components. Don’t think that greens can’t fill you up in this instance, folks: this was a hearty place of vegetables and… other things.
You’d think that after all of that, we’d be full. Unfortunately, the Canucks were losing pretty badly by this point, whisking away our memories of good food and dreams of sweet Stanley. We decided that we needed dessert to help relieve the pain of bitter loss, ordering a molten lava chocolate souffle ($7.99) to finish. The souffle was a rich dark chocolate cake on the outside with a soft molten chocolate lava centre and served with a scoop of ice cream and raspberry drizzle. The cake, oozing with hot, molten chocolate and flavour, was certainly prepared quite well, although one complaint I would have is that the cake itself was a bit tough. All three components tasted quite good, with the ice cream adding a temperature paradox to the cake and the sour raspberry acting as a contrast flavour-wise.
Yes, this was quite a lengthy meal. I believe I was at the restaurant for around 5 or 6 hours, which is a bit too much time to spend at any one location, in my opinion. 1 or 2 of that total was also spent in anxious, thirsty solitude with little to no service or smiles. Nonetheless, the majority of the food was quite enjoyable, and it’s hard to beat the thrill of a hockey cup game when your team’s in the finals – unless, of course, they end up losing. Overall, Joey’s creative menu does give it a step above the other neighbouring chains, and effort points are always good, right?
Conclusion: Andy ate a lot.