Sunday, January 31, 2010

Campagnolo part two: the family-style dinner

Digging in to the pork ragu tagliarini. So tender.

To celebrate my birthday in style, we decided to go to Campagnolo, fine-dining northern Italian, with two friends. When we were there for brunch a short while ago, I noticed that they serve family-style if you want (only for tables of four or six), meaning the kitchen cooks for you for a fixed price, either $30 or $40 per person. Knowing that we would likely spend that much anyway, I thought it would be a fun way to go through their menu.

N and I have been before, but just after it first opened in December 2008 and we couldn't remember what we'd had, and they've changed their menu (no more carne cruda, unfortunately). For a great review of the place when it first opened, see On The Bone, an excellent Vancouver food blog.

Our server (who was excellent and quite friendly) brought us our wine (a wonderful Cusumano Nero d'Avola from Sicily) and some cheese sticks. The wine menu is excellent, and priced better than one might expect given the food prices.

Our antipasti quickly followed: sliced cured meats, tuna crudo (raw albacore), an arugula salad, fried chickpeas, olives with hazelnuts. Delightful. All their cured meats (and sausage) are homemade. The tuna was perfect, and the cured meats were top notch. Top notch, I say.

A pizza was next, with sausage and arugula and parmesan. Excellent. Then the primi. A pork ragu tagliarini that was a joy, every bite so tender, one of the best dishes of the evening. The arlecchino (bow-tie pasta) with fennel sausage and kale was too dry but still quite good. The mushroom risotto was earthy and comforting.

Tender chicken and slightly rubbery halibut.

For secondi we had a nice piece of Polderside chicken, some sliced steak and a piece of halibut. At this point we were quite full, but these dishes didn't impress as much. The steak was very good, the chicken was very rich and tender, but the halibut was overdone. A side order of potatoes was superflous at that point.

Delicious blood orange panna cotta and and slightly odd pineapple cake.

Vanilla panna cotta with blood orange compote and crushed hazelnuts was almost too much after all the rich food. The pineapple cake with Italian meringue didn't seem to fit, but was nice and moist.

Cappuccinos capped off what was the best meal I've had in a long time. I hope to return soon, once we've saved a bit.

1020 Main St. (just north of the bus station).
5pm till late seven days a week


Emily Moore said...

If you love this kind of dining, I would highly, highly recommend checking out La Quercia, which won the best new restaurant award last year, and "most memorable meals" award; they do two alla famiglia options, $40 or $59; for the $40, we had course upon course of was actually one of the best meals I've ever had. Something wonderful about the chef deciding too, no?

Brenton said...

I was hoping we would have a few different items, but everything was straight off the menu. How do they do it at La Quercia?