A not so wild night at Wildebeest
Dine Out. What better way to try a meal that’s normally the same price as your rent? From Vancouver to Burnaby, the Dine Out menu is filled with restaurants of varying prices and cuisines. This is one of the few times that you can actually make your gastronomical dreams come true!
The thing about Dine Out though is that sometimes restaurants don’t put as much of an effort into the final product because of the mass quantity they have to deliver every night. So because of this, during the rest of the year (when it’s not Dine Out) the food is normally great, but during Dine Out they may not execute dishes as well. But really, when you’re paying around $30-$45 for a meal that normally costs around $100, does it really matter?
Honestly? That’s completely up to you because I’m just here to share how much I liked it, or how it made me smile. 🙂
To start off this year’s Dine Out, my friends and I chose Wildebeest. I’ve heard quite good things about this place, from the ambience to the food, to the service—you name it. Now there were a few more options on the Dine Out menu, but I’ll only touch on the dishes my friends and I tasted. 🙂
From their website, Wildebeest describes their food as ‘simple country cooking at its finest.’ For starters, you feel the vibe almost instantly when you arrive. The rustic design, with the brick walls, and wooden tables, feels very homey while the nice accent (and dim) lighting and décor give it a chic appearance.
We sat on the main floor, but from watching the servers run up and down a staircase, Wildebeest has a basement floor for restaurant-goers as well.
This place was packed. And when I say packed, I mean crazy busy:
Our reservation was at 9:15 pm, and we didn’t get our table until about 9:30 pm. Parking was hard to find, so I personally didn’t arrive until about 9:30 pm making it the one time it was good that I was late.
Wildebeest’s Dine Out Menu
Let’s start out with the price. Wildebeest’s Dine Out menu can be classified near the top-end of pricing at a whopping $45 per person. Typically, appetizers (or “smaller”) at Wildebeest cost around $16-$20 and main entrées (or “larger”) are priced from $29-$140 depending on what you order. And, no. That is not a typo; the Cache Creek Ribeye runs at about $140 according to their menu.
Since there were 4 of us, I got to sample different dishes. We didn’t try one of everything, but I did get to taste more than if I went by myself.
The first taste of the night goes to the Tuna Tartare. This starter includes
- Line-caught Pacific yellowfin tuna
- Kimchi Mayo
- Hakurei turnips
- Wonton cracker
When I first saw it, I asked myself … “how do I eat this?” I think the waitress saw my face so she tole me to mix the tuna, mayo and turnips all together, making dip-like texture, then use the wonton crackers to scoop out the tuna. I personally love seafood but have never really been a fan of Tuna Tartare. And this dish didn’t change my preference at all. Not going to lie though, this is probably one of the better tasting Tuna Tartare’s I’ve eaten, the reason was:
- It wasn’t too fishy where it overpowered the rest of the ingredients
- The turnip and mayo had a nice crispy (and very slight spiciness) feel
I wouldn’t order this again, but I also wouldn’t hesitate picking some off my friend’s plate.
Wagyu Beef Carpaccio
Surprisingly, I found my friend’s beef carpaccio to be the better appetizer. I’m a huge fan of savouries, so I guess this explains why this was right up my alley.
Wagyu Beef topped with Iberico cheese, long peppercorn, arugula, olive oil, smoked yarrow salt. Yum. This melted in my mouth. The beef was unbelievably tender, and the Iberico cheese was a nice companion by adding that extra strength of piquant flavour.
Let it be known, I crown this appetizer as my favourite from Wildebeest.
This gets a smile. 🙂
On to the stars of the evening—the main entrées. From what we ordered, you can probably tell that we are not vegetarians. And all I have to say is: YUP.
Cache Creek Flat Iron Steak
Surprisingly sweet. A grilled flat iron, smoked buttermilk mash potatoes, squash purée, and topped with huckleberry jus. Yup, this dish tastes exactly as described.
The steak is so tender that it took so little bites before I inhaled it from my friend’s plate. The smoked buttermilk mash potato was so smooth that it melted in my mouth, and the smoked flavour was just the perfect level of smokey for it to leave a lasting memory. While I didn’t taste too much of the squash purée, the huckleberry jus was one of the first to attack my taste buds. I definitely give props to the chef—lots of flavour, with sweet and savoury making a delicious balance.
At first glance, this Cache Creek Flat Iron Steak may not look filling but we were stuffed by the end.
Delicious. I’m a huge seafood fan, so I was looking forward to this specific entrée. This dish includes pan-seared BC sole, romanesco, lobster & harissa bisque, cauliflower purée, cilantro oil.
Sole is said to be fish of higher protein, and low in mercury. Even though this is not the reason I chose it, I’m happy to hear it’s less in fat compared to other seafood … especially after all the chocolates I got (and #sorrynotsorry ate) from Christmas.
The sole is buttery smooth and had a creamy taste. It isn’t s0 creamy that it made me feel bloated after eating, but its robust flavour was enough to leave me craving for more after each bite.
To be honest, I couldn’t tell nor taste if there was actually any lobster and harissa bisque or cauliflower … I’m guessing it was mixed or infused with the white things decorating the plate. The broccoli was to my liking: it seemed to have been pan-seared with the sole to give it a crisp texture. I like my veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower, to have that similar crispy texture so I was a fan.
I give this dish a smile. 😀
Wildebeest’s Dine Out menu includes two dessert options:
- Milk & Lemon: Hazelnut sponge cake, milk & lemon mousse, lemon meringue, hazelnut tuile
- Fig & Chocolate: Chocolate silk cake, fig jam, brandy-soaked figs, fig leaf yogurt, cocoa nibs
I guess my friends and I all have the same taste in dessert, so we ordered the same thing: Fig & Chocolate.
Fig & Chocolate
If the appetizer nor the entrée successfully made us feel full … this fig & chocolate dessert sure did the job. This rich decadent dessert was just sinful. My friends weren’t a fan of the figs, and while I didn’t love them, it added an interesting contrast to the bittersweetness of the silky cake. The brandy-soaked figs had a slight tart-taste to them that cleansed my palate after every bite—this let me re-taste the fudgey chocolate after every bite. So that was a good thing. 🙂
The fig leaf yoghurt had such a light and airy texture that it was almost moussey. With its typical yoghurt tartness, combined with the angelic-like texture, it was a topping I didn’t entirely hate. I found that if these parts were served by themselves, the flavour would be a little strong. But combined all together, it tasted brilliant.
Super smile. 😀 😀
Well, my first Dine Out started pretty well. My friend had raved about Wildebeest prior years so I’m glad I finally tried it. I noticed every year that these Dine Outs have actually gotten quite expensive … And I’ve gotten to the point to question if it’s really a good deal anymore. When I look at Wildebeest’s regular menu, I’d have to say it is a decent deal. $45 for a meal that would normally cost $60-70 is an okay discount, right? I would recommend Wildebeest for their quite flavourful plates. If it tasted this good during an event where they meals ‘mass produced’ to satisfy a large number of customers, their food must taste AMAZING during the rest of the year when they can take more time with each other dish.
On to my next Dine Out meal! Keep an eye out for my next Dine Out article as I venture into the cove of Vancouver Fish Market on Granville Island.
Let me know in the comments below:
Have you tried any of other Vancouver Dine Out?