I recently got on the bandwagon for the local email coupons (like Grooster, Groupon, and Living Social, etc.). One particular email came into my mailbox about 6 weeks ago that made my mouth water – The Cork & Fin was described as a Gastown seafood tapas place with an oyster bar to boot – what’s not to love about that!
I decided it was time to use this Groupon (a great deal as the $35 gift certificate only cost me $17) after a full day of chores around the house. We cleaned up rather nicely, and took transit to Waterfront station, then had a bit of a hard time finding the restaurant itself thanks to the design choices which left the entire front of house without any signs! I was a bit taken aback by how fancy this place was, but settled in quickly to the luxurious atmosphere.
The wait staff (which seemed only to be 2 waiters and 1 front of house manager) saw to us quickly and offered us a table by the open windows. The seating was a bit tight, making Chris & I have to sit at adjoining sides of the table, but it was okay. After looking at the three menus (the regular offerings, the prix fixe special, and the drink menu) plus trying to read the daily seafood offerings off the mirror that served as the menu board (another design choice that may not have been so wise), we both ended up getting the exact same selections from the July Prix Fixe menu.
I decide to treat myself to a nice cocktail – the Orancio Spritzer (prosecco, orancio, kirsch & orange bitters) was very light, fizzy, and refreshing. It was not too sweet so it went well with the meal too.
Now, I’ve been to other restaurants that offer bread and not written about it, but, I have to give Cork & Fin props for this delicious, warm, chewy, crusty, sourdough-like bread with excellent softened butter sprinkled with fleur de sel. We probably had 2 or 3 orders of this delicious stuff! 🙂
Okay – so, for our Prix Fixe menu ($30) we had three courses – a seafood starter, a soup (or salad), and then a main course. As mentioned above, both of us chose the same things – they really sounded much more interesting than the other 3 options!
First up – oysters. These plump, small oysters were incredibly fresh, smelling only of sea water, and served super cold on a bed of chipped ice. I much prefer smaller oysters like these than gigantic ones (I fear chewing them too much, and start over thinking what I’m eating and can get grossed out!). The champagne-vinegar and shallot mignonette was excellent – it added a light acidic note to the oysters, but not too much other flavours that would overpower the seafood flavours. I didn’t use the lemon or lime, but thought they did add to the nice presentation.
Our next course was soup – a Shrimp & Crab Bisque with truffle cream. The bisque itself had an incredibly smooth texture – probably made primarily with crab shells and well strained. The truffle cream added body to the soup and a nice earthy quality. I loved the tiny shrimp in the soup – these seemed to be butter poached (how can you go wrong with butter + shrimp!) and the fresh parsley really added to the dish.
We finished off this seafood meal with some excellent fish – a pan-seared perch, with very tender potatoes, some green beans and what was supposed to be salsa verde (which was excellent, but much more like a pesto with tons of garlic and olive oil). The perch was very tender, with a surprisingly stronger fish flavour than I enjoyed a lot. I found the potatoes and green bean offerings a bit meagre – this would have helped round out the meal in terms of its size, I think.
With the coupon, I found that this was a very good meal for the price. The quality of the food was excellent, and the service we received was excellent too (though a bit slow from time to time, but understandably so given that only 3 people were looking after the entire restaurant). Without the coupon, this meal would have been a little expensive for our means. In all, I’d definitely recommend Cork & Fin for a fancy outing to celebrate a romantic occasion of sort, but not if you’re actually looking for tapas (I didn’t actually understand how that description applied to this particular restaurant) or are absolutely starving 🙂