Review: Rare Restaurant

by gigi on November 21, 2007

Jenkins and I went to Rare Restaurant yesterday for a nice dinner. I had heard nothing but rave reviews about Rare for quite a while now and I was eager to see what they had to offer. It is located at 1355 Hornby St in downtown.

I had made my reservations for Rare through OpenTable.com. Because of this, they already knew my name when I walked into the restaurant. Why do I even bring this up? Well, it’s because when I opened my menu, I found that it was personalized with a welcome message just for me! I know it’s a small thing, but it made me pretty excited to eat there. :)

Rare has quite a few tasting menus that are available and these seem to be the specialty of the restaurant. Jenkins went for the $45 November tasting menu while I chose the $65 Chef’s Choice tasting menu. Because between the two of us, there were so many dishes, I only took pictures of mine for reviewing purposes. :)

Shortly after we were seated, our server told us that they would be bringing us an amuse-bouche prior to showing us the menus. It was a layered crepe galette with house-prepared chorizo sausage with a dab of olive tapenade. I did not find the tapenade to be too overpowering and although the crepe galette was very dense, it was not too heavy.

rare restaurant

My first “official” course in the tasting menu was a light broth with mussels, oyster, and a spot prawn. The mussels were very fresh and cooked just right. The oyster was smaller than what I was used to but it was very tasty and a little crunchy.

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Next came a seared scallop with cornbread, grilled peppers, and chorizo. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening. My scallop was crispy and seared on the outside and the inside was raw but not slimy. It had a nice “bounce” to it and went very well with the chorizo and the sweet peppers.

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By this point, I was really getting into my tasting menu. :) Next came sauteed pine mushrooms with yam gnocchi. This was some of the best gnocchi I had ever tasted. It was chewy and yummy with a crispy exterior. The sauce was quite rich and I found the mushrooms to be a bit on the salty side though. However, the gnocchi helped to offset some of the saltiness and was terrific with the sauce.

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I am a big fan of duck and was looking forward to this next dish. The duck came on a bed of Israeli cous cous and a dab of blackberry jam. I found the duck skin to be a little salty at times but the medium rare meat was cooked perfectly. :) My favourite part of this dish though was the cous cous. I am not sure if it is the nature of Israeli cous cous or if it was the way it was prepared, but it was very creamy but not too heavy or rich. If this dish came only with the cous cous, I still would have been very pleased! :)

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By this time, I was well into my tasting menu and enjoying the dishes very much. My server gave me a break from all the dishes presented to me by giving me a vanilla rooibos seltzer to cleanse my palette. It came in a shot glass and my only complaint was that it was too small! :) It was very light and refreshing and I enjoyed it…although Jenkins found it to be too sweet for him and not enough rooibos flavour.

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My last “main” course was a striploin steak on a dash of pureed beet served with small fingerling potatoes stuffed with a lemony goat cheese. The steak was perfectly medium rare and very tasty. :) The beet puree also helped to mellow out the strong flavour of the steak. On its own, I wasn’t too crazy about the potatoes with goat cheese although once I paired a bite of it with the steak, the flavours of both really came out and created a nice medley in my mouth.

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This concluded the savory portion of the meal and we were off to dessert! First off, the server brought us a pre-dessert. I had never heard of this before but I think other restaurants should seriously think about incorporating this into their menus as well. :) The pre-dessert this evening was an almond macaroon with a quince filling on a dab of creme fraiche. I found my macaroon to be too chewy though and like it when the cookie is lighter in texture.

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My dessert was a medley of different chocolate treats…just my cup of tea. :) First, I tried the white hot chocolate with a home-made marshmallow. The marshmallow was too sweet for me but I could have drank a full cup of the hot chocolate. I could taste a little nutmeg in it and that really made the hot chocolate stand out in my mind. I enjoyed the chocolate truffle, which had a peanut centre, although nothing stood out. The chocolate ganache tart was very creamy and the sweetness was offset by the shortbread crust. Next came the chcolate sparkle cookie. I am not sure if this was made in-house of by the Thomas Haas bakery but it is one of my favourite cookies and this did not disappoint. :) Last came the chocolate brownie. Like the truffle, there was nothing special about this but it was still very good.

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Jenkins’ tasting menu came with a sweet potato mille-feuille. Because the main ingredient was sweet potato, it was not as sweet as your typical dessert. Jenkins also found his sweet potato ice cream to be a bit on the grainy side. I found the taste interesting…although I enjoyed my dessert better. :)

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All in all, Jenkins and I enjoyed our dinner very much. We were both pretty hungry when we first entered the restaurant, but by the time we left, we were very full. :) Maybe because we went on a weeknight, it was a little quiet and empty inside the restaurant. The service here was great and our servers were friendly. I would definitely recommend this restaurant and am looking forward to our next visit!

Details:
1355 Hornby St, Vancouver
Tel: 604-669-1256

Summary:
Food: [rating:4]
Service: [rating:4]
Price: $$$

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