Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dine Around 2012 - Fire & Water Chop House

this is part of a series of guest posts covering Dine Around 2012

February 24, 2012
About the guest author:
Island girl, born and raised.  Have lived in Victoria for the past 20 years.  Absolutely would not consider myself a foodie, but do enjoy a great meal.  I patronize our great Victoria restaurants and pubs 2-3x a week.  
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I went with a date to Fire & Water Fish and Chop House (Marriott Hotel, 728 Humboldt St) on Friday, Feb 24th for an early reservation.  We had to have time to get through the menu and make the opera that night (Carmen; was fantastic!) so we arrived at 5:30 and were promptly seated in a private, cozy booth for 2.  They had asked about allergies when he made the reservation and they noted it when we came in as well (I have a shellfish allergy – definitely something to note in a ‘fish and chop house’). 

When presented with the menu, I found it curious that they only gave you the $30 and $40 dine-around menus.  Their regular menu wasn’t an option.  Or if it was, it wasn’t offered.  Our waitress took our drink order and we mulled over our menus.  We both decided on the $40 menu, and coincidentally the same appetizer and main.

The braised short rib came out presented beautifully.  The accompanying five spice savory polenta was crunchy and a nice accompaniment to the meat, but didn’t have the flavour I was hoping for.  The short ribs themselves were done perfectly and seasoned nicely.  

I was still chatting and picking away at my appetizer when the waitress showed up with our mains in hand.  My dates plate had been cleared about 60 seconds earlier by a staff member but I was still clearly eating.  She gave a half-hearted “oh I guess I should have waited a bit longer” and then asked to clear my plate anyways.  Not wanting to have my main sitting under a heat lamp for 5 more minutes, I told her to take away my unfinished appetizer.

We both ordered the Moroccan Spiced Center Cut Striploin.  It came with caramelized apple & sweet onion mashed potatoes and a grainy mustard jus along with the vegetables of the day.  I ordered mine medium and my date ordered his medium rare.  My initial cut into the meat produced a bite size piece that was about 80% fat.  I wasn’t thrilled that it hadn’t been trimmed properly.  The meat itself I found to be less tender than I was expecting and wished I had ordered it rarer as my date seemed to really enjoy his.  The grainy mustard jus was good and used sparingly.  The flavour of the apples in the potato mash didn’t come through, but the sweet onions did. 

Desserts were ordered  - he had the White & Dark Chocolate Mousse, and I chose the Crispy Apple Cheesecake. Both were stunningly well plated.  He raved about how good his was while inhaling the mousse with fresh raspberries.  I loved the graham cracker base that the gently spiced individual cheesecake sat upon, with crisp, thin apple slices on top.  The rum butter sauce was not overly sweet and perfect.  The uber-creamy consistency of the cheesecake made it one of the best I’ve had (and I like my cheesecake).

I saw Solomon Siegel walk through the dining room a few times, which made me wish I’d opted for a cocktail special instead of the Pinot Noir.  I managed to snag a sip of my date’s cocktail and it was delicious.  Upon leaving, the hostess booth was empty, a small crowd had formed waiting to enter and I had to retrieve my jacket myself.  

Overall it was ok.  The service, while friendly and non-obtrusive, was not quite good enough for the caliber of restaurant Fire & Water is trying to be.  I think they have the potential to do really well though.  I’d go back for cocktails and dessert for sure.