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O’Doul’s

29 January 2011

On Thursday night I went out for Dine Out for the second night in a row (oh my poor wallet). This time it was off to O’Doul’s (1300 Robson) to try their $28 menu. I apologize in advance for some of the pictures being dark, blurry or grainy. I didn’t want to use flash and the lighting wasn’t helping at all. We were a group of six and, of course, made reservations in advance.

O’Doul’s has been around awhile and I’ve heard some negative things about it lately. Apparently, it is dated and the quality of the food and the dining room has gone down. I have never personally been there before, so I had nothing else to go on. However, we thought that they had a good menu for the price (probably trying to attract more customers) and, checking reviews, it seemed like some people still think it’s a good restaurant.

Walking into the restaurant, I noticed that the decor did seem a bit dated. The wood floor and other wooden features seemed a little beat up, but the restaurant did have a nice ambiance. The lighting was dim and there was a nice background of jazz music (not live jazz, yet).  We were sat down promptly and started looking at the menu. Soon after, our waitress asked for drink orders, but we just wanted water, so she brought that out right away (refreshing after the experience at Sanafir).

After taking our orders, they brought bread and then an amuse-bouche, which was a nice touch. It was a chicken and duck terrine served on potato. It was a little large for one bite and was a bit awkward to get in your mouth, due to the dish (I had to use a fork). It was tasty, though, and was effective for whetting our appetites.

For appetizer, we were given the option of venison carpaccio, pumpkin gnocchi or flame-charred albacore tuna. I ordered the venison, which was served with shaved parmigiano reggiano, romesco sauce and a quinoa, apple and raisin salad.

The venison had a lovely melt-in-your-mouth texture and was surprisingly not gamy (though I wouldn’t mind). I didn’t mind the romesco (it’s main component is red bell pepper), but I feel it didn’t add much. The quinoa salad was quite tasty (the apple and raisin added a nice sweetness) and it went well with the carpaccio. The dish was also presented nicely, in a pretty flower shape.

My girlfriend had the pumpkin gnocchi, which she liked, even though she doesn’t like pumpkin. It came with blue cheese, sage brown butter, and “pickled walnuts”. She doesn’t like blue cheese, so she ignored it, but the gnocchi itself was tasty and had a good texture.

The tuna was also well-received. It was served with a spinach salad, horseradish parsnip puree and a parmesan rice crisp. It looked to cooked well (nice and rare) and I heard no complaints.

For mains, we got the wild salmon filet or the smoky braised short rib. There was a vegetarian option that none of us ordered.

I decided on the salmon, which came with cabbage, bacon, cauliflower sunchoke puree and “mustard quince”. The salmon was cooked well and had very crispy skin. However, there was a bit too much salt, but only on the skin. The cabbage was good and the puree was tasty, but a bit too smooth for me. They both went well with the salmon, but I found that the mustard quince was out of place. It was much too sweet and a bit sour; I didn’t care for it. It was a satisfying dish, though.

My girlfriend got the smoky braised short rib, served with a celeriac (celery root) pomme (potato) puree, gremolata, and the braising jus. The meat was very tender (fall-off-the-bone) and the smoky flavour was very nice. The puree was interesting; not your typical mashed potatoes, due to the celeriac. It was also served with some vegetables, but they seemed to be there just to have vegetables.

For dessert, they offered an apple bread pudding, a meyer lemon mousse and a chocolate espresso torte.

I got the bread pudding, which was okay. It was served with a ginger anglaise and a caramel sauce. I found the bread pudding to be too “eggy” and it wasn’t that sweet. The anglaise was good, but I couldn’t really taste ginger. Eating the pudding with the anglaise made it better, however.

My girlfriend ordered the lemon mousse (yay lemon!) which was served with white chocolate feuilletine (a thin crispy wafer), cassis puree and some huge raspberries. The mousse had the right texture and was not too sweet. It had good lemon flavour and the feuilletine was nice and crispy.

As for the chocolate espresso torte, I didn’t try any, but I heard it was good. It seemed very “chocolatey” and it was served with a chocolate porter ice cream (chocolate beer!) and candied orange coulis.

I thought it was quite a successful meal. The service was very good. Our waitress was very attentive, was constantly refilling our water and was checking up on us consistently. She was very nice and even joked around with us. The servers were very professional, as well. Sanafir could learn a thing or two. The space is a bit old, but the ambiance is pleasant and they even started playing live jazz towards the end of our meal. The food definitely exceeded my expectations and had great value for $28 (plus they came up with new items, not on the regular menu). I would like to come back one day, but I know I will have to pay at least $50 to get the same amount of food. At least it was a good Dine Out experience!

Food: 4 out of 5
Service: 4 out of 5
Atmosphere: 3.5 out of 5
Value: 4 out of 5 (only cause it’s Dine Out, though)

My rating: 4 out of 5

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