Seasons in the Park
Queen Elizabeth Park
W 33rd Ave & Cambie Street
In a way, this might be my last post. As mentioned previously, I will be hanging my camera and keyboard and call it quits once my queue of pending posts is done. While I am sure I have stirred something in that previous post and might one day disclose the actual details in that post, in the meantime, I can only say I am grateful of what this blog has provided me. I wandered to new restaurants, met new people (some on-line only, some in real life), established friendships. Some of them closer than others, of course. So, similar to my Octopus’ Garden, this post wasn’t supposed to happen. Instead, while I was at Seasons in the Park, my friend whom I was having brunch with (and whom I met via this blog!) likewise suggested I should end up with a bang. Well, when such request is made, I guess I can’t say no!
Seasons in the Park, located in Queen Elizabeth Park (a photo essay here), is part of the Sequoia Company of Restaurants, which also includes Cardero’s (in Coal Harbour), Teahouse (in Stanley Park) and Sandbar (in Granville Island). Under normal circumstances, I won’t have come here; however, a Buy a Tab gift card courtesy of Sherman as a Christmas present sort of sealed the deal. At least, he didn’t send me a gift card for *cough* a Glowbal Group restaurant! So, thankful for this gift and not wanting to leave that unused (which would, of course, disappoint Sherman), that gave me a good reason to come here. Furthermore, it was spring and, while the flowers were just starting to bloom, if the food wasn’t good, at least the view might be a good one! What view? As in this view:
Of course, making good to the name of this blog, I won’t let the view distract me and focus on the food itself. (But, of course, when the company is good…). Now, I must comment that I am not necessarily a fan of brunch. I personally like to have my breakfast prior to 9:00 a.m. and have lunch around noon. Dinner usually is more flexible as I can snack during the day. But, brunch? At times, I feel that I might be starving, specially if I skip breakfast, but halfway full if I chose to eat something earlier. To save myself from that situation, I think of an 11:30 a.m. brunch as an early lunch but, alas, depending on the restaurant, it might be “too early” for some heavier lunch fare. This time, I think I was able to manage it quite well and after ordering, we got some bread and butter.
Just for sake of discussion: for such type of restaurant, how relevant it is for the restaurant to churn their own butter? Putting the butter argument aside, the bread arrived warm and we had a brief discussion of whether the bread was made in-house, yet another possible topic of discussion. But, regardless of how it was made, it was just bread and we just had a piece each to begin as we sort of knew we might be needing it later for one of the other dishes…
As in this dish: mussels and fries. We ordered this to share as an appetizer. The broth was on the lines of a Thai curry and we both thought it needed a bit of acidity to balance the sweetness – some lemongrass would have worked great! Now, it wasn’t extremely sweet; however, it was more on the lines of showing contrast. As for the mussel themselves, typical of Pacific mussels, they were plump and none of them came closed. My only one quibble would have been that I would have preferred the dish to be served pipping hot; however, it is possible that, because we were seated outside and was taking some pictures before digging it could have affected the temperature when we dig in. As for the fries, they were decent and the chipotle mayo certainly help. And, of course, to soak some of the broth, there was the bread…
Dish #1 was their QE Park Benedict – baby spinach, roasted roma tomato, hollandaise, roasted potatoes. I originally suggested the smoked salmon version (hey, meat!); however, after tasting it, I will have to admit this one is quite a good option as well. Granted, no meat per se; however, the remaining components made up for any lack of meat goodness. Particularly, the roasted roma tomato, which maintained its consistency and provided a light mix of sweet and acidity. But, how about the egg itself? How about this?
I won’t deny it, this was well executed: whites were firm and the yolk poured out to cover the tomato and the muffin. Alas, that’s when yet-another-quibble hit: the hollandaise didn’t make much act of presence. It was there, OK, just that the texture of the yolk basically took over and there wasn’t anything telling you “I am hollandaise, I am here!”. As for the potatoes, it was probably the weakest link of the dish. It was just OK and probably a bit over salted. Otherwise, nothing extraordinary…
Moving to my dish, I ordered steak and eggs. When I mentioned above about “heavier lunch fare”, I wasn’t joking. I mean, a steak for (br/l)unch? Well, if it is in the menu! First, the eggs… I will have to say I wasn’t really impressed by it. Now, there was nothing wrong and that might have been part of the problem. By the looks (i.e., colour), you could tell they were good quality eggs, just that the texture of this scrambled egg was too dry for my liking. For comparison purposes, check the scramble eggs I had in Culina at the Muttart (in Edmonton). There, that scrambled egg still had a soft, silken texture to it, something I hope here would have achieved… As for the steak…
It was ordered medium rare but this was more on the lines of medium than medium rare. But, wasn’t really in the mood of arguing but eating so I left it as is. And, you know what? It worked fine. Given it is a sirloin, I wasn’t expecting it to be extremely tender but you could easily cut it without much effort. What sort of killed it was the cabernet demi-glace which I felt it added a bit too much saltiness. Fortunately, the egg was there to compensate. So, as a heavy (br/l)unch dish, it worked fine fine as is.
And, to make things overkill, we ordered wild mushroom risotto. Now, not sure if the outdoor issue I mentioned regarding the mussels hit here as well: after sitting there for a while, when we eventually “attacked” it, it felt not warm enough and a bit dry. How so? How about some shredded cheese still in shredded form rather than “mixed” in? (Plus it didn’t “melt” when “mixed” in?). OK, I might be nitpicking here. However, for risotto, I would have preferred mine a bit more on the wet side. Otherwise, it will resemble rice cooked Chinese style but with too much water added. Flavour wise, it was fine as it was loaded with mushroom pieces.
After the meal, we were having some interesting conversation about why there were some shortcomings despite the type of restaurant it is supposed to be. We thought that it is possible that they might lower things a little bit because they want to attract more people rather than more specific customers. For example, people are used to eat scrambled eggs cooked through rather than a somewhat runny, softer version. If that’s what people expect, why take it away? Could I have asked it to be cooked differently? Well, of course but, then again, I wasn’t sure how it would come to begin with. Could I have sent it back? Nah, I was hungry by then! Regardless, by sitting at their patio with good company, I learned why this restaurant is held in high esteem. While it is not extraordinary, it is at least above par. With that in mind, it is good enough to keep you there and a priceless setting is just icing on the cake. While I might not come back on a regular basis, I know this is a good option if I want to enjoy some of the things Vancouver has to offer.