Dine Out Vancouver: db Bistro Moderne, take one.

I’ve never eaten at Lumiere, nor did I get a chance to go to Feenie’s before it closed up shop. With Dine Out Vancouver offering a glimpse of what db Bistro Moderne had to offer, I figured I’d give it a try.

Actually, I tried it twice.

My first experience was a bit disappointing. It was the last sitting on the first Saturday of Dine Out Vancouver, and the crazy week had clearly taken its toll on the staff. The service was perfunctory and satisfactory, but not as welcoming as I would have expected. The food was decent, but not as well-executed as I expected. The kitchen was definitely tired.

I started with the country duck pate, which came with onion compote, mustard, cornichons and pickled turnips. It was beautifully presented, and really tasty. 

That was followed by the seared Arctic char, which came with delightfully crispy skin. It was presented on a dollop of fantastically smooth cauliflower mousseline with baby broccoli. The highlight of the plate was a mixture of croutons, raisins and capers that was a case study in contrasts: crunchy/squishy, and savoury/sweet/salty. Beauty.

Unfortunately, the fish was a bit greasy. It made the dish a little heavier than it was probably intended, and distracted from all the lovely details on the plate.

For dessert, I had the bittersweet chocolate coupe. I was not impressed.

In theory, it’s a great idea. Picture a large glass, and put a really silky, creamy dark chocolate mousse in the bottom. Take a disc of chocolate-almond cake and poke it into the mousse so that it’s hidden like treasure. Then, take a few chunks of hazelnut-laced chocolate rice krispies and put it on top of the mousse. Top that with a giant scoop of homemade coffee ice cream, and smother the entire concoction with chocolate whipped cream. Finally, stick some dark chocolate sugar crisps in the whipped cream.

Now you’re thinking that I’m the world’s biggest food snob, because how could a dessert like that not be amazing? Well, it’s all about balance. And when you have that many components in one dessert, it becomes harder to balance the tastes, textures and temperatures.

First complaint: it was way too big. This dessert could easily be shared between four people. At the end of a very rich three-course meal, you don’t want dessert to sit in your stomach like a pound of bricks.

Second complaint: they didn’t do justice to each component. The ice cream was too cold, the crispy layer was too big, and the chocolate mousse’s subtlety was completely overpowered by everything else.

Final complaint: it seemed inelegant, particularly in comparison to the rest of the meal. It was like someone sat down and wrote down a list of flavours that people like: chocolate, hazelnut, and coffee. Then they wrote down a list of textures: smooth, nutty, and crispy. And then they wrote down a list of temperatures: room temperature, hot, and cold. And then they mixed and matched and came up with this dessert, threw it into a glass, and gave it a fancy name. If they had just stopped for 15 minutes to make it a bit smaller and more refined, it would have been beautiful.

I’ll talk about my second visit in tomorrow’s post.

db Bistro Moderne
2551 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
604-739-7115
db Bistro Moderne on Urbanspoon

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