Thursday, March 3, 2011

Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

Can I please gush about this place?

Let me set the stage, it is a Sunday night and as usual there is always people working at the office. By the time 8′clock came around, we realized well we are pretty hungry from working hard all day. We were split between Chambar and Bao Bei but after a bit of negotiation, we decided on Bao Bei. John (yes the REAL John Chow), Jaeny and Kevin (a friend from Winnipeg) left first to Bao Bei before we catch up to them. Well within a good 10 minutes, got 2 tweets that says the place is closed so we are heading to Campagnolo. Campagnolo?!? Where the heck is that and what kind of food do they serve? I somehow confused Campagnolo with some sort of social club so I had second thoughts about going but it wouldn’t be very nice to leave friends waiting so what the heck.

I drive by Main Street by Terminal more than 10 times a week to get from Commercial Drive to The Network Hub but I have never noticed Campagnolo, either that or I get incredibly distracted by its more flamboyant neighbors – Balmoral Hotel and Ivanhoe Hotel. The exterior of the restaurant is very subtle, the signage is downright polite compared to the ginormous red Ivanhoe Hotel signage I like to call a billboard.  Once I opened the door, I was floored how open but yet warm and inviting the Campagnolo is. IMG 20110220 00048 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

IMG 20110220 00049 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

While we were getting settled in, I took a quick look at their take-home menu instead of in-restaurant menu and my mouth dropped to the floor.  Conde Nast Traveller Magazine named  Campagnolo as one of the 50 Hottest New Restaurants in the World, Vancouver Magazine Award in 2010 named Campagnolo gold in Best New Restaurant, Silver in Best New Design and Silver in Casual Italian.  Now I am excited but I’m trying to not expect too much.  I’ve been to a few “award-winning” restaurants that definitely let me down.

John was selling to us the Polderside Chicken because Polderside Farms raise their poultry in low density, stress-free environment and they are fed a natural diet of grains and vegetables.   John stood behind the Polderside Chicken so strongly that half of our party ordered chicken, I ordered Linguine, Kevin ordered Slopping Hill Pork and Jaeny ordered a vegetarian pizza.  I figured since half of the table got chicken, I might as well try something else and take a nib from others.

The appetizers came out first, the highlight of the appetizers was the Seared Octopus which was AMAZING!!! I couldn’t control my fork, it kept visiting my neighbor’s plate and they were nice enough to let me keep picking at the Seared Octopus I wish I had more adjectives in my food vocabulary to describe the experience but goodness, it was soooooooo good!  My appetizer was a Peasant Chicken Soup and it was such a comforting and hearty soup.

IMG 20110220 00052 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

IMG 20110220 00051 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

I am so excited for my main course because the appetizers definitely set the tone of what is to come – oodles of deliciousness!!! And I wasn’t disappointed, the Polderside Chicken was sooo tender and so juicy at the same time.  My Linguini was simple but oh my goodness probably the best Linguini I have ever had so far!

IMG 20110220 00055 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

IMG 20110220 00056 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

I wanted more and was very curious about how amazing this place is.  A lot of restaurants shine for their food and fall flat when it comes to dessert or vice versa.  Of course when the waitress said they have a dessert sampler – I was sold.   The appetizers were amazing, the main courses were divine but the desserts really put it over the top.   In the sampler is a salted caramel dessert wrapped in waxy parchment like an old school taffy candy and let me just tell you, I had to reordered for a couple more.

IMG 20110220 00059 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

IMG 20110220 00060 Places to eat in Vancouver: Campagnolo

Here is the kicker my bill after ordering:  a cranberry juice, one large hearty chunky and rustic Peasant Chicken Soup, one Linguini and a generous dessert sample with a reordering of the salted caramel dessert was well under $40!!!!  Seriously! I’ve paid more eating at regular chain restaurants without the same quality of service or food.

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