Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vancouver: Tapas off the Beaten Path at Judas Goat

Vancouver is one of our favorite cities to visit and eat - we get delicious, fresh food for much less than we spend in Toronto. Perhaps it just appeals to our preferences, with great seafood and sushi options! Only making it out for a couple days each year has limited our "tasting" experiences as we always want to visit our favorites, but we met up with our friends Jen and Andrew this time around and had the chance to visit Judas Goat, in Blood Alley Gastown, for a fabulously fun dinner!

I never knew what or where "Blood Alley" was, feels like one of those unique destination that I should have known about having lived there for 4 years, but I chalk it up to being a newer destination (no idea true or not). The popular Salt Tasting Room is also located there, tucked away in Gastown. There are no signs, at least none that we saw, and so Tony and I drove around several times before concluding the restaurant had to be located down this sketchy looking alley. Judas Goat is a small, modern restaurant, with large windows and bar seating opening up to the alley. The rest of the restaurant is made up of a share table and several small round tables along a banquette. My one complaint about the restaurant is I wish we had bigger tables for all the food we were about to have!

Six of us at dinner was just perfect to try everything we wanted - thankfully everyone is a good eater (which one of my friends aren't??) and we proceeded to check random stuff of the menu. It was another case of order by "elimination," where we mostly just agreed on what we didn't want. The menu is divided into Bocadillos (here was a re-invented Spanish sandwich) , Hot, Pressed/Potted/Cured, Salads, Condiments and Sweets. We ate almost everything on the menu - that's the beauty of tapas! Some of our favourites were:
  • Braised pork belly: while I feel like pork belly is everywhere these days, I'm not quite sick of it yet. This pork belly was prepared very similar to some Chinese dishes, (fatty and saucy!) and of course, we had to have seconds of this!
  • Warm lamb cheek with cabbage and white truffle oil: it smelled so delicious and just melted in your mouth.
  • Cacciatori from local artisan butchers: this was ordered on our second round, since none of us were sure that this was - but it ended up being a good plate of cured meats to nibble on, plenty to go around.
  • Rabbit rillette with carrot panna cotta: rillette is a pate like preparation of meat, which was very good and the carrot panna cotta was surprisingly delicious, Jen and I really dived into it (and maybe just the two of us!).
  • Scallop tartare with pork rinds: when we ordered this, Jen described it as "crunchy." The pork rinds were indeed VERY crunchy, like "can't hear yourself" crunchy...but very good! At least I was a fan, and have had an odd craving for it since then.
  • Potted prawns with pistachio butter: The pistachio butter was deliciously rich, although it was hard to share the 2 prawns in the "pot," so of course, we had seconds!
  • Foie gras with rhubard foam: foie gras is rarely, if ever, better than in Quebec, but this was quite good indeed, and I particularly loved the rhubard foam - very unique and added a nice, unique flavour!
Judas Goat was a really fun place to eat and I loved that each dish was served and prepared quite differently with unique flavours paired together - rabbit and carrot (haha!), foie gras and rhubarb (do geese eat rhubard?) etc. It appealed to our particular preference for indulgent meats and spreads. I recommend going with a group so you can maximize what you eat...but be warned that you'll have to sit and eat intimately - the two little round tables we shared table simply weren't big enough for all the food we ordered! Thanks for introducing us to this fun place Jen & Andrew!

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