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28 January 2011

On Wednesday night, I went out with a large group of friends to Sanafir (1026 Granville) for their Dine Out Menu. For those of you who don’t know, Dine Out is an annual event in Vancouver where hundreds of participating restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $18, $28 or $38. Sanafir was offering an $18 menu and was able to accommodate our large group (11 people). Sanafir is a part of the Glowbal Group (Italian Kitchen, Coast, Society, and others), which prides itself on having very stylish, ‘sexy’ and cool restaurants.

Sanafir serves food all the way from Morocco to the Mediterranean and to India. The space is quite large, with 2 floors and very high ceilings. It has a ‘loungy’ atmosphere with Moroccan-style beds to sit on (on the second floor) and dim lighting. It is nicely decorated with Arabic, Indian, and other Silk Road decor. It’s a very trendy place, located at the edge of Yaletown and around all the nightclubs. They sat us at a large communal table (meant for 16) and we took up most of the table, except for 4 seats, which they sat a couple at later.

For appetizers, there were 3 choices, but all of us only ordered two of them, the Tandoori Prawn or Chicken and Chorizo Salad (there was a vegetarian salad option that no one ordered).

I ordered the prawns, which were served with a chickpea and pea shoot salad. The prawns tasted very similar to tandoori chicken and were well-seasoned and not overcooked. The salad had a lot of chickpeas and bit too much dressing, which was quite tasty, but a little overpowering with all the lemon and garlic.

The chicken and chorizo salad was served with poached egg and a paprika-honey vinaigrette. The dressing got compliments, but the chicken wasn’t very interesting and there wasn’t that much chorizo or egg (which seemed more hardboiled than poached).

There were three options for the main course as well. All of us got the Seared Coho Salmon or the Butter Chicken, except for my one friend who got the Vegetable Korma (I didn’t get a photo, unfortunately).

I ordered the Butter Chicken which was served on basmati rice with pappadum (the crispy thing which is made from lentils or chickpeas) and raita (a yogurt sauce). It didn’t taste quite like authentic Indian butter chicken; the flavour was a lot ‘darker’ and I felt like it didn’t have the right mix of spices. Also, the chunks of chicken weren’t all the same size (some were quite large and required a knife). The raita tasted like tzatziki (I’m used to it being much thinner) but the pappadum was good (I like crispy fried things). My girlfriend found some undercooked rice in her dish, which was disappointing.

The salmon was served with kale, fingerling potatoes and a yellow curry sauce. I heard good things about the yellow curry, but some of my friends said that the salmon was a bit dry. My friend said she liked the vegetable korma.

I was disappointed that they only had one option for dessert, a Five Spice Chocolate Cake. We all got the same thing, but, oddly, my cake was a fair bit larger than everyone else’s (oh well, more for me). The cake was okay; I found the spices in it interesting and the cake was a bit chewy (more like a brownie). It was served with some creamy sauce, ‘cardamom yogurt’ and a berry ‘compote’. The creamy sauce was good; it was fairly sweet, though. I think it was probably a creme anglaise. The cardamom yogurt was just kind of sour and didn’t add much and the ‘compote’ wasn’t a compote (coulis would be more appropriate).

Overall, the service wasn’t very good at all. The servers weren’t very professional; they had no clue who ordered what. The wait staff weren’t very attentive and didn’t really ask us how our meal was. They were horrible at refilling our water; mine was empty for at least 20 minutes (until they refilled it when I was done my dinner). Lastly, they split up our bills, such that everyone shared a bill with the person sitting across from them (weird). This was very incovenient, since everyone with a boyfriend/girlfriend was sitting beside that person and we all would have preferred individual bills (maybe they were trying to save paper). The space is nice but the food is just okay. I was also disappointed that they didn’t come up with anything new for the menu, rather, they just inserted items from their regular menu. For $18, the value is fine, but I would prefer better quality. I guess it’s just another one of those places that goes with style over substance.

Food: 2.5 out of 5
Service: 1.5 out of 5
Atmosphere: 3.5 out of 5
Value: 3 out of 5

My rating: 2.5 out of 5

Sanafir Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

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