August 24, 2009
Urban Foodie by Anya Levykh
July 30, 2009 2:07 a.m.
Coast?1054 Alberni St.
Signature Drink: Persica Fizz
Signature Dish: Lobster Poutine?Rating:
****½?Dinner & drinks for two: $100
It’s a brand new menu, a brand new space, and a whole different attitude. Where the old Coast was more reserved and elegant, the new space is boisterous, vibrant and almost too chic. The old menu was all about “naked” seafood prepared simply. The executive chef, Josh Wolfe, is the same, but the new philosophy is all about fun. Throw in a larger space and huge, round raw bar, and you have something that actually works pretty darn well.??
Our first visit was for dinner. After a couple of dozen or so Fanny Bays, we felt ready to move to more serious fare. Buttermilk-fried calamari ($12) was first up. Think tender, flavourful and moist to the point of instant disintegration on the tongue. Jumbo prawn cocktail ($14) was lovely and fresh, but seemed a bit skimpy on the portion side—three crustaceans in a bowl big enough for twelve. King crab tempura ($16) was super tasty and pipin’ hot, but I still prefer my crab a little more naked.??Raw fish followed, specifically the hamachi ($17), all drizzled in a sweet and sour glaze and decorated with scallions and Thai basil.Delicious, fresh, but again, portions were a tiny bit on the tiny side.
On another visit, lobster poutine ($15) made a big hit. A deep bowl of sliced tubers drowned in white cheddar (really, is there any other kind?) was topped with fat chunks of lobster. Who needs gravy? Smoked salmon flat bread (read: pizza) with dill crème fraîche and red onions was the classic Jewish pizza.
Coast now also has a sushi chef, Masa Katsuno (call him Max), who has dreamed up a few goodies as well. The fish-and-chips hand rolls ($8) are little wonders, light on the rice (non-existent, really), heavy on the flavour. The Japanese “tartare” sauce is an invention of Katsuno’s, using capers, Japanese mayo and chiles.
I even managed to try some dessert over a few visits. We went with the sampler ($14) the first time. Passion fruit trifle wasn’t impressive, nor was Gianduja crème brulée, but vanilla cheesecake lollipops were out-of-this-world freaky-good. Another dessert, simply called Pierre Robert cheese ($11), sounds like something from the grocery store, but is really the secret ninth wonder of the world.??The cheese itself is a luxurious triple-cream from France that is aged a little longer than your standard Brie or Brillat-Savarin, so it has a tangy and slightly salty taste that puts one in mind of very mild and creamy Comte. Coast has decided to add to its charms by first drizzling the cheese in a truffled lavender honey and then shaving chocolate over the top. The key to this crazily intense explosion is the truffle. As Brillat-Savarin once rightly declaimed, “Whosoever says truffle, utters a grand word which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas…” Damned skippy, Jean. Next time, I’ll try it with oysters.
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