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Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge – Vancouver

June 10th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Bacchus Restaurant - Vancouver Bacchus Restaurant - Vancouver Bacchus Restaurant - Vancouver Bacchus Restaurant - Vancouver Bacchus Restaurant - Vancouver Bacchus Restaurant - Vancouver
Two words: rather bland (but the service was excellent).

Time for a family dinner out on the town in Vancouver. Bacchus was chosen (not by me) as Mom had seen one of their ads on the Weather channel (I’m not making this up). That, and the fact that Bacchus, and The Wedgewood Hotel, in which it resides, is a member of the Relais-et-Chateaux, the fairly exclusive group of hotels and dining establishments that pride themselves on the five C’s: Caractère, Courtoisie, Calme, Charme et Cuisine. I’m not sure that Bacchus has all 5 – in fact, as nearly as I can see, it only has 3, but we’ll come to that in a bit.

Some background: The Wedgewood is one of Vancouver’s very high-end boutique hotels. You can come here and see the celebrities come and go, and watch all the other well-heeled travelers. The decor is lots of marble, gold leaf, flowers, columns, and velvet – a somewhat more modern version of Versailles. The Wedgewood is on a busy street in Vancouver, across the street from Arthur Erickson’s concrete and glass law courts, sandwiched between two office/apartment towers. And yet you walk in, and you’re in a marble and dark-wood lobby, feeling as though you wouldn’t be out of place in jodphurs and a riding jacket. But restaurants and hotels should have some sense of place, and I just find this kind of decor a bit fake, manufactured, a bit dishonest – thus I don’t think that the Wedgewood has all the Caractère that is worth of its Relais-et-Chateaux designation.

On to the food. We arrive a half-hour early, but seating us is no problem – the restaurant is about half-full, and it’s a quiet, subdued place, fairly dark. The waiter arrives immediately, and is as pleasant as he is profesisonal. This is the start of what would be amazing service during the meal. Never obtrusive, but just a raised eyebrow or moment of eye contact away – any restaurant in Vancouver would be hard-pressed to match the service at Bacchus. Definitely a checkmark for Courtoisie.

Bar lore: Taylor’s Chip Dry white port is a delicous drink when served over the rocks with tonic water and a sprig of mint (called the ‘chip chip’). They had Chip Dry on the menu and were able to make me one of these concoctions, elegantly servied in a wide low glass over crystal-clear ice. I got the impression (and have heard the rumors) that the bar at Bacchus, while not necessarily ‘young and cool’, is one of the best in the city. Based on this (I challenge anyone to find Chip Dry in almost any bar) and on the drinks of my dining companions, I’d agree.

We start the meal – I have the Duck Liver and Cognac Parfait ($12), accompanied by Okanagan fruit chutney and toasted brioche. Unfortunately, this was a let-down. While perfectly presented, and while the brioche was delicious (toasted yet soft white bread – I’m such a sucker for white food) – the liver was almost flavourless. It had those delicious hints of foie grass, but was just too dilute. Duck liver (just because it’s not goose) doesn’t have to be mild or mellow. Go to Fauchon, buy some duck liver pate, come back, and tell me that Bacchus couldn’t do better. D had the Spring Pea and Chervil Velouté, ($12), accented by Nova Scotia lobster and pea and ricotta agnolotti. This dish, while again – could have been delicious – the delicacy of chervil with the sweetness of peas and the unique flavour and salt of lobster – just describing them makes my mouth water. But the end result was again just underwhelming. This soup was a beautiful green and looked amazing, but just tasted too mild.

Onto the mains. I have the Bacchus Roasted Rack of Lamb ($38), served with pesto forked Yukon potatoes, Mediterranean vegetables
kalamata olives, and lamb roasting juices. And again – it was…bland. The potatoes were delicious, hands down, one of the highlights of the meal. I think that says a lot about a meal if the potatoes are the best thing about it. They were light, full of flavour, and about a pound of butter must have gone into them. The lamb, while perfectly cooked, served at a perfect temperature, and while it had an interesting sweetness to the meat, was basically ‘lamb for people who do not like hte taste of lamb’. I’m not sure what they had done to the lamb or where they had found these strange lamb-beasts that taste more like pork, but that’s how it worked out. Really, I think lamb should always be delicious – end of story. Yes, it has some gamy flavours to it, but that’s why you use lamb, and either mint it, sauce it like Vij does (google ‘lamb popsicles’), or put enough salt and pepper on it to really, really bring out the flavour.

D’s fish was a let-down for her. She had the Filet of Smoked Alaskan Black Cod ($33), served with brandade potato, roasted fennel
saffron rouille and a bouillabaisse sauce. It was fine, but again – black cod should be amazing (ask Nobu) – it’s one of the nicest-tasting, most unique fishes in the sea, with a sublime fattiness to it reminiscent of toothfish. But here it was bland – not overcooked, but just a bit too underflavoured.

Dessert was a trio of sorbets – strawberry, lemongrass, and mango served half-melted – really, the only service oversight of the meal. I think sorbet is pretty much the same no matter where you have it – but really, it shouldn’t be half-melted mush/soup by the time it reaches your table. The whole reason to have it is for its refreshing coldness and tartness, and without it – I should have just had the ‘chocolate landmine’ or whatever (every restaurant has one).

So, I’ll give Bacchus another C for charme – the service was great, and at the end of the meal (maybe it was just the company) – we had all had some laughs, and the lighting, music, and atmosphere in the restaurant is actually warm and relaxed.

But I won’t give it a C for cuisine. For a $460 meal for 5 people, this should be food that makes you want to sing. I don’t care if I’m in the plushest red velvet banquette in the world, or how many columns there are in the room, how much gold leaf, or how many celebrities I see. Bacchus isn’t such a spectacle that it’s worth the price of admission (unlike this place), and for this kind of money, the food should just be better.

That being said – I’ll give our meal another C for company – Bacchus is the kind of place you can go for a fancy dinner, and if you’re with fussy eaters, your grandmother (who likely values the atmosphere and ‘fanciness’ more than she does the food) will love the place. I’ll leave it at that.

Bacchus Restaurant at the Wedgewood Hotel
845 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6Z 1V1
Tel: (604) 689-7777

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Bacchus Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Tags: Vancouver · Western Food

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 // Jun 15, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    You’ve got a point here…Bacchus does one thing really well…’fancy’.

    Regardless, after having been on many occasions for ‘fancy’ drinks, dinner, appys, etc (not unlike your meal), we decided to try it on for brunch.

    Take another spin through it around 10:30 to noon on any given weekday/end. We were very impressed…service especially. Not too hot, not too cold!

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