Restaurant Review – r.tl, Regional Tasting Lounge – Vancouver, BC

May is a month for birthdays. I find that a good majority of the people I surround myself with celebrate the day of their birth in May. In one sense, it’s almost not fair – my bank account dwindles terrifyingly below where it normally lies – but in all honestly I cannot pass up a good party with the people I love and respect.  The culmination finds a fête for the most important guy in my life, my father. I am extremely lucky to have such a close relationship with him, as many are not as fortunate.  But in all honesty he is my main man.

I had planned for this portion of my post to be talking about my relationship with my father, and how much I love him, and all the things about him that make him so important to me, but truthfully I’m at a loss for words.  And not because there isn’t anything to say, but because there really are no words invented in the English language to describe how amazing he is. I am just exceptionally privileged to be an offspring of such a great human being. Oh ya…. and my Mom is great too
Anyways, so for this joyful occasion we decided to try out one of my Dad’s new favourite restaurants.  This is one that I have not tried yet, so I figured I would write about it.  Regional Tasting Lounge, or r.tl, is located in the heart of Yaletown. We were offered a global menu of sharing plates in a friendly and modern environment.  It was small and unpretentious, and not once got lost in executing a pleasant experience for myself and my family. 
Although we had a Living Social coupon, I was extremely pleased when I found we were not limited to a smaller menu.  For only an added $15 we were given access to the entire menu.  I would have been satisfied with the menu we were offered originally but we figured for me to write something of value I would have to try as many dishes as possible.  
The coupon included a bottle of wine and while there were a couple we could choose from, the selection was exceptional.  Any wine drinker could easily find something they would be happy with.  We decided to go with a Shiraz-Malbec blend (either from Chile or Argentina…. we may have had a glass or two at home), mostly because my Mom is in her “I love Malbec” stage – but I mean they’re good, so why not.  However, prior to this bottle coming out, we were beautifully surprised with a bottle of Piper Heidsieck champagne from a mystery uncle that unfortunately could not squeeze in at our table.  At a $100 a bottle these crisp and refreshing bubbles are a fabulous aperitif for a meal expectantly filled with heavy and full flavours.  I have not tried this champagne before, but at that price point, I will definitely be having it again.  
When doing a 3-course meal with share plates, I do believe that it is customary for each guest to order a plate for themselves, and then – well – share. 🙂 For our appetizers we selected TWO orders of the feature terrine, mushrooms on toast, and the mussels.  
The feature terrine was served classically with pickled pearl onions, cornichons, a balsamic reduction and baguette crostini.  The “feature” portion was predominantly a duck variety marbled with cherries and duck confit. The cherries added a delightful sweetness to a typically salty flavour.  In truth – I could have had more, which considering the portion size was definitely reasonable I attribute to the fact that I just really liked it….

The mushrooms on toast – I really hate to admit – was somewhat disappointing for me.  Now before I go into to much bashing on it, I will say that one of my dining guests couldn’t get enough of it, and was still raving about it on our walk home.  The main thing that bothered me about it, is that it was served cold! The flavours were alright, I mean where could you go wrong with garlic, herbs, butter and mushrooms? Oh, I know where, by serving it cold. Now, truth be told, I have to wonder if maybe that was a goof on someones behalf. I’d like to think that it was supposed to be served warm but someone just forgot to heat it up. The burrata was great – it would’ve been better if it was housemade, but…..ok I’ll stop hating on this dish. I guess for me, one of my favourite go-to quick and easy meals is mushrooms on toast – it can be SO great! Unfortunately I just think r.tl missed the boat on this one.

The mussels – meh, as well. Too many places are doing mussels in a coconut curry broth these days.  If you don’t do it perfectly, you will be judged against the next place.  Unfortunately the size of the mussels, and because of that, the overcooked consistency of them was something that marked this dish down in my books.  I don’t know if mussels are “out of season” right now, but they were the smallest I have ever had. The broth was good but just nothing that ecstatically impressed my taste buds.

Considering our appetizers were a tad upsetting, I was really looking forward to being blown away with our mains!

My favourite was absolutely the lamb shank.  Braised in a spinach and chick pea curry, the flavour was robust and spot on.  I believe I may have licked the bowl – if I actually didn’t, I definitely day-dreamed about doing it.  The meat was fall off the bone tender, magnificently moist, and pleasantly healthy by way of portion size.  If there’s one thing I would get as a main again, it would be this dish, hands down.

The fessenjoon chicken – although I had high hopes – was rather disappointing.  The flavour was there, but the meat was dry. Truth be told, one of my biggest pet peeves is dry chicken, so unfortunately this one didn’t do it for me.  The walnut pomegranate reduction was really yummy, but I just couldn’t get past the consistency of the chicken.  Definitely try this one, as perhaps I just had a bad batch or something?

I would not order the szechuan steak again.  There was really nothing exciting about it, except for an insanely tough steak.  I almost think that they cut the flank the wrong direction.  You know how I always ensure you cut across the grain – ya, I don’t think they did that. The flavour wasn’t even that exciting – I”m mean it didn’t taste bad or anything but it just didn’t do anything for me.

Our last choice for a main was the duck confit.  The only issue – and my sister totally brought this up – is that duck confit should not be a shared dish.  It’s just too good. Also, you may be the unlucky person with that one piece that is a little dry….when the rest of it is as moist as grass on a rainy spring day. For those of you that don’t know; confit means “cooked in its own fat”. Need I say more? The bitter orange marmalade was unnecessary, and tasted a bit out of the jar, but it definitely didn’t ruin the dish for me.

We ordered a couple of sides as well; brussel sprouts with bacon, green beans with almonds, and seared scallops.  Both veggies needed a bit more seasoning. Cooked well – a nice crunch, but again, like most things, they just didn’t wow me.  The scallops on the other hand were perfect.  Cooked properly, not rubbery at all and really simple.

Dessert, on the other hand, was incredible. We opted to try the chocolate terrine – decadently, rich, and incredible; the creme brule – unfortunately not as much of a sugar crust as I would have like, but creamy and very flavourful; the New York cheesecake – unfortunately not a true NY cheesecake, but again the flavour was great; and my favourite the saffron gelato. This gelato was probably one of the best I have ever had.  They surely did not skimp on the saffron used as the flavour was in your face great.  The texture was spot on for gelato; light and smooth – and the rose water poke through ever so delicately on the palate.  After tasting this gelato we decided that it would only taste better with a flight of whiskey…… that’s where my night ended 🙂

All-in-all I had a nice time.  The food had its moments of brilliance, muted by it disasters.  The service, ambiance, and company definitely helped the experience flourish for me.  My parents swear by this place though so I imagine I may have caught them on a bad night as it pertains to the food coming out of the kitchen.  I would recommend going but I have to say that when it comes to Vancouver, you can absolutely find a better location for tapas cuisine.

Happy Eating, Friends!

XOX
ATay

*This experience was completely paid for out of my own pocket. Regional Tasting Lounge (r.tl)  did not ask me to write this post/nor did they pay for any of my meal.  

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *