Beyond Restaurant and Lounge.
Looking back over some of the previous posts in this blog has led me to the realization that much of my eating is very random in nature. Quite often I will find myself at a restaurant either on a whim or due to a random series of events. Whatever the circumstances, they usually culminate in my enjoyment of great food with even better company. My visit to Beyond Restaurant and Lounge was just one such occasion where a bit of serendipity lead me to a new eating experience.
Nestled in the Century Plaza Hotel, which is located at the intersection of Comox and Burrard Streets in Vancouver (the side entrance off Comox Street pictured above), Beyond Restaurant and Lounge would probably have gone unnoticed and unvisited by me except that an unusual and rare stroke of luck had struck one of my eating companions, rather fortunately. Said friend had won a contest which had originally granted her a rather sizable gift certificate to dine at the Copper Chimney Restaurant. Upon receiving the gift certificate in the mail she was disappointed to find that the offer had already expired and after inquiring with the awarding party she was granted a new prize voucher to try Beyond Restaurant. Being the generous person that she is, a select few of us were asked to join her in the (relatively speaking) frugal dining experience and indulge on the cheap!
A very large and modern looking space houses Beyond Restaurant. With everything from relatively secluded alcoves for intimate dinners to more open spaces for boisterous gatherings or events, I am certain that this restaurant could cater to the need. When we were first seated there were a few other patrons scattered about, but as the evening wore on quite a few tables became occupied with dinner guests.
Shortly after ordering our appetizers and meals we were provided bread with soft butter. There was nothing particularly special about these two varieties of bread, which would have benefited from being served warm, but it is difficult not to enjoy a bit of bread and butter prior to a nice meal. While the breads were fairly generic, I did prefer the heartier and crustier whole grain one more.
Our first appetizer was the peppered beef carpaccio. A terrific dish served with an abundance of shaved parmesan, savory capers and delicate pea shoots. The beef was incredibly tender and the spice of the pepper crust mixed with the sharp piquant of the capers were a great contrast to the umami of the meat, which was equally full flavoured. If you get a chance to order this dish, as the menu at Beyond does tend to rotate, then I highly recommend you give it a try.
Salt spring mussels was our next appetizer and for me they seemed to fall a little flat when compared to the carpaccio dish. The (ever so slightly over cooked) mussels were served in a red curry coconut broth that had all of the elements for a winning dish but for some reason didn’t quite exhibit the flavours I was hoping to enjoy. Perhaps if the curry and spice were a bit more bold and pronounced I would have enjoy this dish fully. There was an abundance of fresh cilantro used as a garnish, which I did enjoy. If you manage to save some of the bread, it makes a great vessel for picking up the sauce from the bottom of the metal serving bowl once you have made your way through all of the mussels.
Tender sablefish over risotto served under a tangle of julienned carrots and red peppers was among the first of the mains to arrive. Topped with crisp, crackly, smokey bacon, this generous portion of food was prepared and served quite nicely. The risotto was cooked thoroughly, creamy and rich, but it could have been seasoned a bit more for my tastes, although the owner of this plate thought it was seasoned perfectly. The vegetable julienne was vibrant and served as a colourful and tasty garnish to breakup the texture of the soft risotto and sablefish.
My dish arrived shortly after the sablefish. A sizeable Alberta AAA short rib served over smashed organic potatoes greeted my senses as the server rested the plate in front of me. Food glistening from the red wine reduction, my nose quite suddenly picked up the aroma of the blue cheese that had been melted over top of the short rib. Even though the short rib was fully cooked through it still remained succulent and surprisingly fork tender. The strong and pungent flavour of the blue cheese went very well with the meat and added a great and interesting depth of flavour. This was actually my first experience with blue cheese “gratin” on beef and I definitely would have it again as I am a fan of this variety of fromage. The smashed potatoes (I say smashed as they were not mashed to a fine pulp, but left somewhat course) were rustic and tender. I’m finding more and more that I enjoy my potatoes smashed rather than mashed. The added texture and typical way it is prepared means that smashed potatoes are more flavourful and satisfying on the palate than the regular old run-of-the-mill mashed potatoes. The red wine reduction also contributed a lot of flavour to the potatoes as well as the rest of the dish. My only complaint was that I could have eaten a bit more of everything, but that is a regular problem no matter where I go!
Duck confit over white bean cassoulet is about as French a dish as one can get around these parts. The duck itself was crispy skinned on the exterior and fall apart, flakey on the interior. The piece I sampled was perhaps a little bit overcooked, but that could very well be because I was given an edge portion of the leg. At the same time the white bean stew was slightly undercooked as the legumes remained quite starchy and were definitely not tender enough. The cassoulet did however have a very rich and full flavour that bespoke of its cooking process. The presentation of this dish was simple, understated and exemplified the rustic nature of the meal. I really liked the deep, rounded cast iron bowl that the food was served in. My photo does not do the duck leg justice.
The simplest dish was also the last to arrive, as counter intuitive as that may seem. An Alberta AAA 10 ounce strip loin steak sided by beer battered onion rings arrived a few minutes after the duck confit hit the table and was greeted by jealous “oohs” and “ahhs”. The cut of meat was actually a bit longer than it appears in the photo due to the perspective of the shot so in actuality it was quite a substantial portion of meat. While the steak was slightly more well done than the “medium rare” that was requested, it was still a very tender serving of flesh. The thick cut and generously battered onion rings were perfectly deep fried, light and crispy. But wait, there is more!
Served with the Alberta beef steak and onion rings was a mini earthen ware dish that contained macaroni and cheese! Creamy, cheesy and very rich, I was definitely more than a little jealous of this order as I had considered getting it myself before settling on the blue cheese short ribs. The cheese itself had not separated in the cooking process and there was not even a hint of unincorporated or overcooked flour that would have been used to create the sauce. The execution of the macaroni and cheese was very good and it showed as I wanted to steal every morsel of it for myself! Very tasty indeed.
Beyond Restaurant is also a well stocked lounge and that fact was made very apparent by the large bar that adorns the center of the establishment. I’m quite certain that, if you were so inclined, an aparitif or three would not be amiss with a social or romantic meal.
As mentioned at the start of this blog post, our little sojourn at Beyond Restaurant and Lounge was the result of a few unexpected and fortunate events. The wait staff were attentive, friendly and accommodating, checking in on our table often enough to be present, but not too often to be overbearing. This was definitely a great meal with wonderful company. And it is really difficult to find a complaint in that.
Beyond Restaurant and Lounge
1015 Burrard Street