For are very first Vancouver dine out adventure in 2014, Sara and I went down to Cork & Fin. Cork & Fin, as the name suggests, focuses mainly on seafood and wines. Located in Gastown, Cork & Fin fell into the $28 menu category for this years Vancouver dine out. Cork & Fin was a very good choice to kick off Dine Out this year.
This year, restaurants seem to be doing something different with their Dine Out menu. Usually the menu will be broken into usual three courses: appetizer, main and a dessert. A lot of the menus for Dine Out this year seems to be offering more of a tasting menu with a tapas style. This would include two appetizers and a main or maybe just three appetizers all together. With that being said, I was disappointed to see that Cork & Fin did not have a dessert option for their Dine Out menu. Although you were able to add one for $5.
Let’s start off with my three choices.
I started off with the Heirloom Beets. To be honest, this was a “best of a bad situation” choice. I am personally not a big fan of raw oysters and the pickled eggplants option turned me off. However, I am rather satisfied with the Heirloom Beets as my first course.
The Heirloom Beets really had a refreshing effect on the palate. There was a whole range of flavors from the dish. The earthy taste of the beets and tanginess of the mandarin orange bits really complimented each other well. The goat cheese (whipped chevre) was a good median between the beets and orange flavors. The Heirloom Beets was a really good way to start of dinner.
My second course was the Albacore Tuna. The Heirloom Beets was a flavorful way to start the meal, kind of refreshing your palate with all the different flavors attacking your taste buds. The Albacore Tuna was completely the opposite. There was barely any flavor on this plate, except for a few pieces of cracker pepper corn and a slight tang from the tomato jam and citrus oil. However, this is not a bad thing. This Albacore Tuna was all about texture. The tender and soft Albacore Tuna sashimi, and the sticky and slightly chewy soft egg really complemented each other. In terms of texture, the egg and tuna were like ying and yang to my mouth. What’s great about the Albacore Tuna is that it resets the palate. The Heirloom Beets had all that flavor but the Albacore Tuna really made me forget about the flavor of the beets and changed the focus onto the texture of the food.
The third course was the Grilled NY Strip loin. First of all, thank you Cork & Fin for making my steak rare. I understand that most restaurants prepare steaks to a medium rare, but I honestly prefer my beef rare. So, thank you Cork & Fin!
The first word that came to my mind when I took a bite of steak was: WOW. This dish was amazing. Holy Batman. The hoisin sauce that was on the steak was a perfect balance of salty and sweet. I never tried hoisin on beef before, but boy was this an explosion of flavor. The potato salad was equally awesome. The potato salad is not your typical salad because the cooks crisps the skin of the potato and lightly tosses them in a dressing. Very good dish and I highly recommend this as your third course.
For Sara’s first course, she had the three shucked pacific oysters. She had asked our server what oysters they were, but she only got the names of two of the three, which were Little Wing and Fanny Bay. The oysters came with a champagne shallot vinaigrette, horse radish and tabasco sauce. I tried a little of that vinaigrette and I have to say that is sauce is flavor money. Had the kick of champagne but also the pungent taste of the shallot. Very good sauce. The main star themselves were fresh and gooey, a good texture for oysters.
Sara’s second course was the Steak Tartare, a dish similar to Beef Yukke at Japanese izakayas The Steak Tartare came with mixed with a sweet sauce and pine nuts, that reminded Sara of a salad dressing. I had tried some of the Steak Tartare but couldn’t really pinpoint what salad dressing she was thinking of. In fact, the dressing feeling is from the mustard mixture used. The Steak Tartare was very good in terms of the textures of the food. The steak was mushy and soft, but you had the crunchy from the kohlrabi and the stickiness from the sauce and egg yolk. Pile all that onto a chip and you really have a pretty good appetizer. The potato chip may look like they came from a bag of Ruffles, but let us re-assure you that a potato was sliced, given the crinkled look and fried. Very neat.
For Sara’s third course, she choose the Ling Cod. The portion size for the Ling Cod was very small, which was disappointing. Whereas the NY Striploin was flavor city, the Ling Cod was the complete opposite as it offered more of a relaxed and refined taste. The meat of the Ling Cod was very soft and melts in your mouth. The Ling Cod is served in an Apple Dashi, which is a Japanese broth with hints of apple. The tangyness of the apple and the subtle fish taste really complimented well with the Ling Cod.
Cork & Fin is a great choice for this year’s Vancouver Dine Out. The modern and hip decor creates a really comfortable dining experience. Even the washroom was kept tidy and maintained the same theme as the rest of the restaurant. The food we tried on the menu was very good, each with their own unique taste/texture. While the portion sizes are rather small (It did not fill Sara entirely), the big flavors of the food will do more than compensate. We highly recommend Cork & Fin.