Italian Kitchen, Vancouver.

November 2014

I’ve walked past the front of this place many dozens of times, and it being right on the way to one of my favorite bakeries. For some reason (I think someone must have praised it) I’ve always peered in the front window and imagined myself enjoying delicate Italian freshness amid quiet conversation and stylish adults. Nowhere near, it turns out…

Pushing through the front door you feel the resistance imparted by 40 or more drunk shouting young people roaring against the kind of music that emanates from the tinted windows of certain black cars, at high decibel. It was a huge relief to be taken upstairs to the second floor where the music faded, and there was quite a bit less noise. We were seated out of the way against a mirror which allowed us both to see the room. But the scene was much closer to Keg and Cleaver than Sirenella.

A handsome pleasant boy approached and asked us about drinks, then sending over the sommelier who suggested a central-Italy red, subsequently taking our dinner orders. The food arrived quickly.

We shared a beef carpaccio which prompted Robin to comment dryly, “I’ve had better.” The soft beef which tended to get pressed into a ball was underlain by a gooey risotto, heaped with bitter green leaves in the center, and squirted with balsamic concentrate. I couldn’t really focus on flavour because of the dreadful consistency, but it ended up being mostly the garlic in the risotto.

My pasta was a carbonara, also gooey, further vitiated by far too much cheap parmesan, and warm not hot. Robin had mushroom pasta which she not unreasonably inquired about beforehand asking if it was “really mushroomey” and got an enthusiastic oh yes absolutely. There was barely any mushroom flavour and that same unhappy consistency. Pasta dishes practically out of a Chef Boyardee box.

The Campana region wine was fragrant but without substance in the mouth at $79. We were out the door minus $130 pre-tip. Descending to the pulsating main room, we got an impressive picture-view of the busy steaming open kitchen which visually would impress anybody with its serious sophisticated industry. Maybe they brought our food in from somewhere else.

Anyway a strange negative epiphany considering my expectation. Food 4.2, service 6.3, ambience 2.7, value 3.5.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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