Restaurant Review: Vin Room West

>> Thursday, March 13, 2014

It’s funny how people tend to explore areas that are close to home or is familiar to them. At times I can be guilty of that myself. Now that I live close to Kensington, I’m more inclined to visit restaurants in and around that area or not too far away from the downtown core. But lucky for me, I have a great group of foodie friends that love trying new things and visiting different places so when we get together we’re always looking for something fresh and unique. A couple of friends and I have been planning to check out Vin Room West for a very long time. However since none of us really live out that way, we had to make sure we made plans well in advance. Rain (read snow) or shine, we were going and nothing was going to stop us.
Atmosphere: Large open dining area with a more relaxed sensation than the 4st street location. Vin Room West features woodsy interiors, a great bar area and large round tables perfect for group get-togethers.
Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s

Food & Wine: It was quite chilly that night, but we made it out and couldn’t wait to indulge. Since we were all huge fans of Vin Room on 4th, we knew that we were going to be ordering a fair bit off the menu making it easier to decide what we wanted, since it really was a bit of everything. Starting with the Paella Arancinis made with saffron risotto and bits of chorizo, prawn and crab all served over top a green pea puree. They were perfect one biters, crispy on the outside and flavourful on the inside.
The Merguez Meatballs were super tender and succulent. Made with a mixture of lamb and dates, served with a tangy red pepper puree and topped with mint yogurt. The incorporation of the dates really helped the meatballs to retain their moisture and also provided hints of sweetness. The mint yogurt aided to counteracting any gaminess there may be from the lamb, which I’m usually sensitive to but didn’t find in this dish. I personally quite enjoyed them and would definitely order them again.

The Pistachio Crusted Scallops were next, with a sweet and salty raisin pineapple chutney. The scallops were perfectly cooked, translucent in the middle with the pistachios adding in that extra crunch and the chutney providing a balance of flavour. I’ve always enjoyed this dish and order it every time I’m at Vin Room, I hope it continues to be a mainstay on their menu.
My friends are huge fans of fish and we decided on the Pan Roasted Steelhead Trout, which were seared to perfection. It came with a lightly dressed frisee salad providing a hint of bitterness enhancing the sweetness of the golden beets. I found the roasted mushrooms added a bit of earthiness especially due to the brown butter sauce and the almonds provided the crunch, a well-rounded plate.

As for the hearty dishes we ordered the Duck & White Bean Cassoulet, Braised Pork Short Ribs and the Oregano and Lemon Lamb T Bone Chops.  The cassoulet was made with confit duck, bacon, tomato and navy beans. A comforting dish and great for the chilly winter weather we had that night. The pork short ribs were sticky and sweet. I really enjoyed the smoky chipotle sauce and the crispy yam fries. The only issue was the fries became soggy shortly after due to the chipotle sauce, but they were delicious shoe string fries and very crunchy when they arrived at the table. The lamb bone chops were succulent cooked to a medium well temperature, enhancing their tenderness. Accompanied by a red wine spinach feta salad and crispy lemon garlic potatoes, it was a very composed plate. Again the lamb was very nicely seasoned and not gamey, which I prefer.
We also had an order of the Eggplant chips, which are thinly sliced eggplant coated with bread crumbs, fried and served with herbed yogurt and pomegranate molasses. I did find the chips a bit overly breaded and the taste of the eggplants themselves was slightly lost. However I really enjoyed the pomegranate molasses and would probably top many a salads with it. The molasses provided that perfect salty sweet combo. I found that I didn’t even need the yogurt dip, but it could also be possible that by this time, my mind was already on dessert.

Vin Room offers a feature Crème Brulee, which happened to be pumpkin pie that evening. So we had to get an order of that and the Warm Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding. The crème brulee was creamy and lightly sweetened with the perfect crunchy sugar coated topping. My friends love their crème brulee and were genuinely satisfied. I on the other hand preferred the bread pudding. Soft and gooey with a decadent rum caramel cream and Sicilian pistachio gelato, it was my ideal dessert. People who know me know that I am a sucker for desserts that contrast hot and cold.  
It’s hard to go to Vin Room and not be tempted by the wine selection they have in house, especially when pairing with all the delicious bites on the menu. We sampled some lovely wines that evening and since they offer 2oz, 6oz, half or full bottles, the combinations are endless. I definitely encourage people to play with the wine list. If you’re ever unsure, order a 2oz to sample. They can also create wine flights for you, ranging from light to bold, you get a good feel for what you enjoy.

My Picks: Merguez Meatballs, Pistachio Crusted Scallops, Warm Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Overall: All of the food was amazing and my only complaint is that there wasn’t more of it! Although now I know that when I’m craving it again I now have two locations to choose from, since the west location has more space they can accommodate more tables. So if you’re reading this and longing for a taste, it’s easy, make plans to venture out west because we’re sure glad that we did!
Vin Room West
8561 8a Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(587) 353-8812
Vin Room West on Urbanspoon


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