Last week, my foodie pal, Anna of Anna’s Appetite, took me to downtownfood for a celebratory dinner. I got to choose the restaurant and downtownfood was my top pick since we had such a memorable dinner there during the Big Taste event in early March.
We started off with an amuse bouche of Ahi Tuna Crispy Nigiri Sushi, compliments of Chef Darren MacLean. It consisted of Itsumo ahi tuna, dehydrated pickled ginger paper, and fresh wasabi on a house puffed brown rice crisp. This was a creative play on the traditional nigiri sushi which usually consists of a piece of fish atop a mound of sushi rice. Instead of the sushi rice, the house puffed brown rice crisp provides a tasty textural contrast. This crispy nigiri sushi will be one of the new items featured on downtownfood’s spring menu.
While waiting for our courses, we snacked on slices of house baked baguette. Like our previous visit, this bread was really tasty and addictive. This time we were smart and paced ourselves so that we would have enough bread left to have with our appetizers.
Our first appetizer was the Brant Lake Wagyu Slow Braised Beef Ravioli ($16), which consisted of three handmade ravioli served in a miso, foie gras broth and fresh shaved truffle. Compared to the version that I had sampled during my previous visit, the miso flavour was more dominant in the miso foie gras broth on this visit. The ravioli was just as flavourful and tasty as before.
For our second appetizer, we shared Crispy Fried Pork “Cakes” ($14), which were served on a bed of kimchi, pickled celery, onion, and carrots, along with some Korean BBQ sauce. The Pork Cakes were perfectly crispy on the outside while the center was filled with tender, flavourful pork. I enjoyed the contrasting textures and flavours of the pork against the kimchi and pickled vegetables.
For my main, I wanted to have the Broek Acres Pork Trio ($29) again, since I found out that it might get replaced on the new spring menu. The dish consisted of pork belly confit, 48 hr brined and sous vide pork loin, crispy pork rinds, carrot ginger puree, shmeji mushrooms, and asian BBQ sauce. Normally, this dish contains braise pork shank but I was really happy they had substituted with the pork belly confit again, like they did on my previous visit as I LOVE pork belly confit. Also, instead of kohlrabi puree, which is normally what accompanies this dish and also what I had on my previous visit, they decided to give the dish a different twist and serve it with a carrot ginger puree. I really enjoyed the carrot ginger puree. It went really well with all the other components of the dish. Like before, this dish was outstanding! I loved the crispy pork belly confit. The sous vide pork loin pieces were perfectly tender and flavourful. I loved the pork rinds again. This time it was seasoned slightly differently and had a bit of a spicy kick to it.
My friend Anna decided to try the Braised Brant Lake Wagyu Beef Cheeks ‘Osso Bucco’ Style ($29), which was served with a sweet potato puree, crisp chive buds and kale in a goulash broth with pickled onions. This was a really well composed dish and all the flavours worked well together. I loved that the beef cheeks were melt-in-your-mouth tender and so flavourful.
For dessert, Chef Darren and the downtownfood team prepared a platter for us to celebrate the occasion. I loved the whimsical presentation of the desserts.
The first was the Heath Lemon Tart, which consisted of creme brulee’d lemon curd in a shortcrust pastry and was paired with a cassis sorbetto, custom-made by Fiasco gelato for downtownfood. This is one of the signature desserts at downtownfood. I’ve tried it before on my previous visit and loved it so I was really happy at the opportunity to have it again.
The second was the Chocolate Marquise, which is one of the new desserts on the spring menu. This dessert was a winner! I loved the lusciously rich chocolate mousse-like filling atop the hazelnut crunch layer. It was nicely contrasted with some vanilla gelato. This was perfection on a plate. This is my new favourite at downtownfood and I can’t wait to go back to have it again. If you love chocolate, this dessert is a must try!
We finished off the evening a few more sweet treats from Chef Darren and the downtownfood crew. We had mini vanilla cookies served with a rich mint chocolate ganache for dipping. This reminded of a childhood favourite, dunkaroos, except this was a more sophisticated, gourmet version. The mint chocolate ganache was silky and rich. It was the perfect way to finish off our evening.
628 8th Ave SW