Monday, November 7, 2016

Vancouver Restaurants: Nicli Pizza; The Nightingale; Wildebeast Brunch; Juke Fried Chicken; Virtuous Pie.

Nicli Pizza

We began with a perfect appetizer: warmed, marinated, mixed olives: castelvetrano, mantequilla and picholine olives (no photo). 

Pizza marinara with tomato sauce, roasted garlic confit (I asked for extra garlic), oregano, fresh basil and no cheese as requested (cheese makes for an oilier floppy crust). This was a good crust, moderately crispy, with a very tasty topping. 

Bianca with extra vergin olive oil, slow roasted red onions, oregano, garlic confit ( I asked for extra), Italian parsley and no cheese as requested. Another very tasty topping.


I am going to begin by saying that the menu says "No substitutions" and when they say that, the owner/managers mean absolutely no changes to the dish. I don't eat cheese on my pizza. I did not ask for a substitution or add-on. I just requested, please no cheese. 

The waiter could not make the decision so called over the manager who advised me that the menu had many alternatives so just choose something else or consider the one pizza out of the 10 offered that did not include cheese. This is hardly a customer friendly attitude. The excuse given was so that they could serve their 600 covers efficiently. However, not adding the cheese would have changed nothing in timing and made available some of the other pizzas I would have preferred. This attitude makes nightingale just a restaurant factory. Grind it out and to heck with the client, kind of attitude. 

Very good salt and pepper fries with a very tasty, roasted garlic aioli. 

A very good Russian kale salad, roasted sunchokes, pomegranate dressed with hazelnut vinaigrette. A refreshing combination of flavours.

Breaised collard greens with crushed tomato, sweet pepper and Calabrian chili. A good dish but a heavy hand with the salt.

Oven roasted cauliflower, sunflower seeds and green harrissa. 

The only pizza offered with no cheese, confit of garlic, San Marzano tomato sauce, basil and fermented chili. I asked for the pizza to have a well done crust. This resto makes a big fuss about how they make the dough. The media hyped pizza crust was indeed good (not great, but good). The sauce was very good.

Ordered by my guests, roasted mushrooms, new potatoes, garlic confit and fontina cheese.  My guests described this pizza as quite bland and agreed that in their opinion, this particular pizza would have been better without the cheese.

Properly cooked (good texture, not chewy) Pacific octopus, braised overnight with blistered capers, parsley, fermented chili and vinegar. Again, there was a rather heavy hand with the salt and the vinegar overwhelmed the flavours of the dish. 

"Crispy" fried chicken, dill, Preserved lemon yogurt and espelette. The skin was certainly not crispy and once again, a heavy hand with the salt. The chicken was cooked properly. I would not reorder this dish. It was not "good" fried chicken. Disappointing.

Grilled sturgeon, roasted garlic bagna cauda, charred leak and tarragon. Once again, a heavy hand with the salt. The fish was a bit overcooked. Not an enjoyable dish. 

Grilled mergez sausage, baba ghanouj, shishito peppers and mint. Once again, a heavy hand with salt (in the baba ghanouj).

A very tasty warm apple crostada, nice pastry accompanied by bourbon, raisin and cinnamon ice cream.

Some of the food was ok. The no cheese pizza was very good. Would I return, NO. The service, attitude and food were disappointing.

Brunch at Wildebeast.

Avocado and toast: smashed avocado, sous vide egg, aged white cheddar and green salad. 

Wild mushroom omelette, fresh tarragon, goat cheese, smashed browns and sourdough toast.

Croque madam: toasted ham sandwich with gruyere cheese, fried farm egg (look at that great orange colour!! topped with bechamel sauce and sided with green salad. A great tasting egg. 

Smoked bratwurst with grainy mustard. Wonderfully juicy with a very pleasing smoky flavour, slightly coarse texture and perfect skin that snaps to your bight.

"Rosemary bacon", although good bacon, cut on the thicker side (my pref with good bacon), lacked the expected flavours of rosemary. 

Smash browns, very crispy skinned potatoes. Loved this dish. 

A free range egg with a gorgeous orange yolk, cooked sous vide and tasted as good as it looked.

Disappointing potato hash, lacking flavour and soft/flabby texture.

Juke Fried Chicken

Reasonably good fries. Very tasty gravy. 

The crispy battered, not oily, gluten free, free range chicken that was perfectly juicy and properly cooked. Only dark meat is offered. 

The batter is cleverly composed of cornstarch, potato starch, corn flour and rice flour. Although it was basically very good fried chicken it lacked the flavours and crunchy/crispy battered qualities of the great fried chicken that I have experienced in my travels from the very best. 

Virtuous Pie

Virtuous Pie is a vegan pizza resto. I am vegan some of the time and so was looking forward to see what this resto could do and I was most pleasantly surprised. I asked for my pizza crust to be well done and the crusts were thin and perfectly crispy. The toppings were creative and for example, the "feta" actually tasted very much like a mild feta cheese. I requested that all of the pizzas have no cheese except the marguerita and the feta on the mediterranean. For example, if mozzarella was called for (cashew mozzarella), I requested it not be added.

A delicious quinoa Greek salad composed of red and white quinoa, feta "cheese", cherry tomatoes, red onion, salt cured cucumber, kalamata olives an oregano vinaigrette.

Butternut squash and kale salad, another hit, composed of roasted butternut squash, roasted parsnip, kale, shaved brussel sprout, dried cranberries, spiced pumpkin seeds and a miso/tahini/orange vinaigrette.

Superfungi pie: herbed potatoes, wild mushrooms, truffle almond ricotta and rocket (arugula). The potatoes were like a mash and I think that this pizza would have been better with slices of potato. A very tasty pie.  

The Med: smokey baba ghanouj, house made felafel, feta "cheese",roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, onion and mint chutney. Another delicious pie.

Fennel sausage pie: San Marzano tomato sauce, Italian field roast sausage, roast fennel and confit of garlic. Another very good pie.

Cavoletto (bianca): dijon flavoured brussel sprouts, caramelized onion, tempeh bacon, feta and chili flakes. This was a delicious pie. 

The marguerita: San Marzano tomato sauce, cashew mozzarella, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

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