Monday, September 8, 2014

Yew Seafood & Bar

Yew Seafood & Bar is located at the Four Seasons Downtown and the restaurant has a casual relaxing atmosphere. I have been meaning to try the restaurant for a few months now and a voucher for their seafood tower which was offered through Travelzoo gave me the push I finally needed to make time.

When we arrived, the three staff members at the front were welcoming and professional. There was a small line up and the staff made sure to help everyone within minutes. Since I had a voucher for the seafood tower, I was requested to send the restaurant a print screen and accidentally sent the e-mail from my blogging account. However, I believe my experience was the true representation of the restaurant.

After seating, our server asked if the kitchen could start on the seafood tower while we looked at the menu. The restaurant has an eclectic contemporary design with a high ceiling, skylights, and a glass-enclosed wine cellar that is a also a private room at the the centre of the dining area.

CAESAR ($9.00).
The caesar tastes very mild and the flavour could have been stronger, although there is a hint of spiciness. As for the garnishes, there is celery and bacon.

The bread basket was dropped off without an explanation but we could make out the flavours (which is good). The biscuits are served warm, taste fresh, buttery as well as flaky, and the butter on the side is served at a room temperature which makes it easy to spread. Starting with the round ones, there is a cheesy flavour along with a taste of chives. As for the squared ones, the biscuits are a lot heavier and have a smoked salmon flavour. Both the flakiness and crumbliness in the biscuits are great.

SEAFOOD TOWER FOR FOUR, "Chilled & Raw Seafood: Fresh local oysters, crab salad, humpback shrimp, albacore tuna, scallops, lobster and BC spot prawns" ($99.99).
Vouchers are provided to lure new clientele and it is great that Yew did not have any restrictions. We made reservations on a weekend evening and was able to use the seafood tower voucher for four, for two. The voucher was $59.00 and the seafood tower for two includes less portions and no lobster or spot prawns.

The oysters of the day were kusshi and could have been more fresh. Kusshi is one of my favourites but despite a couple, the oysters lacked that nice smooth plumpness and a few tasted a bit dry. In addition, only three were properly shucked and the rest had bits of shell or were still stuck on. As for the accompaniments, there is blueberry compote, horseradish and mini Tabasco bottles. The blueberry compote has a slight sweetness and I did not mind it so much when paired with Tabasco; there was a mild sweetness and an after hit of a spiciness. Also, I like the choice of mini disposable Tabasco bottles for sanitary purposes.

Yew's seafood tower is different compared to the generic frozen shell-on seafood offerings. There are fried wonton skins served on the side and despite using sparingly, we only had enough for half the tower. Nevertheless, the wonton skins are crisp and neither greasy nor soggy one bit. Starting with the crab and lobster, both are the same as Yew's tacos, "red miso, maple and lime, avocado, apples". The crab meat is nicely shredded and the lobster meat tastes bouncy, both of these were our favourites in the tower.

Following, the scallops taste fresh and have a light sweet zesty flavour. However, the scallops are too big, could have been cut in halves, and was the only item in the tower we left behind. This is selective because we prefer seared scallops to bring out the flavour rather than sashimi style. Continuing along, the tuna sashimi tastes fresh, not mushy, and is slightly salted. There is also a slightly sweet picked flavour and a bit of jalapeño as well as grape. The both of us like the tuna because the natural flavour is there. Moving on, the baby shrimp has a simple light dressing and tastes bouncy. Finishing up, the spot prawns taste overcooked, soft and almost mushy. There is a creamy avocado flavour but the prawns are just too soft.

Overall, we found the seafood tower only average and for $99.00 would rather have a traditional one. The seafood is pre-cooked but assembled to order and we prefer the generic shell-on seafood instead. However, Yew's seafood tower is great for those who want to sample a bit of everything and prefer this execution more. As for the $59.00 voucher price, it was a good value.

When we ordered the chowder, our server asked if we wanted the soup before, at the same time, or after the seafood tower which I appreciated. Furthermore, he peaked at our table a couple of times to see when the kitchen should start on the chowder as we were finishing the seafood tower. Seafood chowders are always a must order for me and the kitchen split the bowl for us without requesting.

The chowder tastes very creamy but not rich… very creamy as in a bit too much. In addition, there are plenty of ingredients and the chowder tastes crunchy. The crunchy apple and raw celery leaves do not pair well with the chowder, and I wish we read the description before ordering. Furthermore, there is an odd bitter burnt flavour and a weird syrupy sweetness.

After reading the description, the odd bitter burnt flavour may be the "smoked cod" (which tastes dry and stringy, but not a big deal) and the weird syrupy sweetness must be from the honey. Honestly, one of the worst chowders we have had which may be selective. Asides from the ingredients mentioned, there is also plenty of onion, just cooked potatoes which taste hard, and the only ingredient I liked was the corn. I love the use of corn in chowders for that nice natural sweetness, but why add the honey? Or even apple… and celery leaves?

The service from when we walked in to when the chowders were served, was great. But what happened? The entrees took longer than usual to arrive and our bowls of finished chowders were sitting on the table for more than ten minutes. Furthermore, BFs drink was empty and we could not find anyone to flag down for a refill. When we finally did, his glass was taken away but never brought back. Later on, he accidentally choked on his saliva and I had no more hot water to give him. The gentleman beside our table was kind, offered his drink and despite not wanting to take him up on his offer, he realized his glass was empty as well after offering. This was so awkward and I am glad it did not happen to me LOL.

When the entrees arrived, we were able to remind someone that we ordered another drink. The ribeye is cooked to a medium rare, but tastes very dry. As our server was passing us, he wondered why BF was cutting up slices and asked if everything was okay. Surprisingly, BF mentioned his steak is very dry and our server offered to replace it. I was surprised because BF rarely sends anything back. In addition, although it was nice of our server to offer a new steak, he did not leave anything on the table for BF to munch on. The fries could have been left behind but the whole plate was taken away, or a side plate could have been provided for me to share my halibut with him. However, it did not matter because all I had to do was move my plate to the middle of the table anyways.

I contemplated between the halibut, lobster carbonara and seafood paella. But since the photos I found of the paella did not look very good, I felt like the halibut would be a better choice. The halibut is just cooked, tender and opaque, the way I like it (although slightly dry). However, there is no nice crust because the person filleting the halibut did not make a clean cut and the piece looks a bit dipped, so some parts did not touch the pan.

As for the pork belly, only one tastes dry but the rest are fairly tender. Furthermore, the vegetables are just cooked and not too crunchy. However, the pistachio puree has no flavour and tastes bland.

Being close to finishing my entree, BFs new steak arrived and the ribeye tastes a lot better. The steak is cooked to a medium rare as requested, tastes juicy, and has a nice charr flavour along with a tasty seasoning. Furthermore, the steak does taste dry or sitting around for too long compared to the former. As for the sides, the green beans have a soft crunch and we are surprised the steak comes with fries. The fries taste crisp, generic as well as dry, and we only had a couple. We did not bother asking for ketchup, which may have helped.

When our server found his way back to our table, he asked if we wanted dessert. I have this weird issue, I can only order dessert if I had an overall good experience at a restaurant and I have no idea why. Either the food has to be good or the service was great, and most of the time there is not even a dessert I want. However, I really wanted to try Yew's blueberry pie!! But, I could not because the food was only average at best and the service disappeared.

After the dinner, we were presented with chocolates and breakfast cookies. Our server mentioned we could have the cookies now or save them for breakfast tomorrow. The milk and dark chocolates taste smooth as well as generic, but we prefer Le Crocodile's more. Either way, this is much appreciated.

As for the breakfast cookies, I had them the next day. The cookies taste moist and there are raisins, dark chocolate and pine nuts. The exterior resembles slightly under baked cookies (which is not the case) and is a bit sticky, but the cookies taste healthy and are not to sweet. Usually at home, I bake healthy packed with ingredient cookies and no one ever wants to eat them because there are too many ingredients LOL. Good to see a restaurant that does the same.

Voucher price: $108.95 + Voucher $59.00 + Tip $25.05 = $193.00.
Original Price: $167.85 (with $59.00 voucher shown on receipt instead of $99.00).

All in all, I was a disappointed with my experience. Nothing was that bad, but not good either. I have been wanting to try Yew for a while now and the voucher motivated me to visit sooner than later. In addition, we would have ordered the same dishes with or without the voucher but fortunately there was one so we saved $40.00. As for the service, everything was great until the chowders were dropped off. What happened? The service disappeared. However for the service we did get, it was nothing but professional and welcoming.

- No restrictions on the voucher
- Friendly and professional staff
- Relaxing and non-rushed atmosphere
- West coast contemporary design

- Service disappeared
- Casear could have been better
- Food is average at best for the prices

- The table beside us had a great server. He was attentive and always available :(
- After trying a sample of the crab and lobster tacos, the full portions would not be bad for an appetizer

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 2/5
Value: 2/5

Yew Seafood & Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Wine list, bar, happy hours = ONLY reason for Yew b/c the food is expensive and subpar. Watch out for the oysters, read some bad reviews (food poisoning)



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