Saturday, November 15, 2014


Having already celebrated my birthday over the weekend, I did not want to go out for dinner on the actual date because it landed on a weeknight. Another reason is because I have learned my lesson to only dine out at certain non-Asian restaurants on the weekends, when the head chefs are there! At the last minute however, I was really craving for The Keg. The birthday gods were clearly not on my side though because The Keg in North Vancouver has been closed for a while and we did not want to travel far, so decided on Carmelo's.

Carmelo's is located in West Vancouver, offering classic and traditional Italian cuisine along with a mix of West Coast. The restaurant has been on my wish list for a few months now and way before Amici, but we chose to visit the latter first because I knew that restaurant would be good (and it is!). Since Carmelo's is fairly small, reservations are recommended regardless of the day of week. We happened to visit on a Monday and discovered the restaurant offers a $10.00 promotion on certain pastas, so this was definitely a bonus for us.

Carmelo's is a casual white tablecloth restaurant with dim lighting and there is a candle on certain tables. There are two sides of seating arrangements in the restaurant and a few window seats for those who like to people watch. When we walked in, I was surprised to see an actual "reserved sign" on a window seat table only to discover it was not ours lol!

The slices of foccacia taste soft and rich, with an infused rosemary flavour. As for the sourdough baguette, the bread has a very chewy and hard crust. The accompaniments for the table bread include evoo and a red pepper aioli. The olive oil is thick, but I still prefer the taste of Amici's more and would have liked a splash of balsamic vinegar. As for the aioli, there is a creamy consistency and a touch of spiciness.

Food: 2.5/5
The appetizer includes two scallops which are cooked to a medium rare and taste tender. The scallops however lack a nice crust, despite being caramelized.

As for the crab cake, the crab meat tastes more damp than fluffy but there is a good amount. When paired with the aioli, there is a light rich flavour.

THREE MEATBALLS, "Tomato sauce and shaved Grana Padano" ($9.00).
Food: 2/5.
As odd as it sounds, I always play it safe and rarely order meatballs at an Italian restaurant. Meatballs are something that I am very picky about, but I thought perhaps Carmelo's may be good. The three large meatballs each have a shave of Grana Padano and there is a tasty tomato sauce. The sauce tastes fresh and has a nice tart tomato flavour, but also tastes very one dimensional.

As for the meatballs, the balls are too loose and easily crumbles. Furthermore, there is a garlic flavour but the beef tastes very dry and the meatballs are not even caramelized! The both of us enjoyed the fresh tasting tomato sauce but unfortunately had to rely on the sauce to mask the flavour of the meatballs, rather than enjoying the meatballs.

LINGUINI VONGOLE, "Clams, fresh diced tomato, white wine and garlic" ($18.00).
Food: 2/5.
Usually I do not prefer adding parmesan to this type of pasta because I enjoy the flavours from the clams along with the simple, but tasty sauce. In this case however, I am glad I added a bit of parmesan and wish there was more. I also requested for fettuccine instead of linguini, which tastes al dente along with a nice bite. Although for the pasta overall, it tastes very dry. 

The buttery sauce sitting on the bottom of the bowl does not coat the pasta and tastes fairly bland. There is a mild butteriness but no nice flavour from the olive oil, white wine or garlic. In addition, there is a fair amount of clams but why are there canned clams? There is such a generous portion too. The canned flavour from the clams are very overwhelming and provides an unpleasant tanginess. As for the in-shell clams, they taste dry and overcooked. If I knew there were canned clams in the pasta, I would have definitely requested to omit them.

PENNE SALSICCIA, "Tomato sauce with a spicy sausage ragu" ($18.00).
Rating: 2.5/5.
The penne is undercooked and tastes unpleasantly pasty as well as slightly woody. The sauce is also too thick and resembles paste. However, the sausage tastes great! The sausage tastes moist, tender and flavourful, especially compared to the meatballs. There is a rich flavour and a mild spiciness too.

RACK OF LAMB, "Olive and dijon crust with a red wine reduction" ($32.00).
Rating: 2.5/5.
The rack of lamb has a light crispy crust and tastes tender, but very dry. Usually the reason is because the meat was not defrosted properly before cooking. As for the red wine reduction, the flavours are not overwhelming and provides additional moisture for the lamb. The reduction is a touch thick but the flavours are not salty. Further along, the accompaniments include carrot, asparagus, spinach, beet and mashed potato.

The vegetables taste very buttery with a soft crunch and neither mushy nor limp one bit. The spinach also tastes properly rinsed. However, the vegetables are noticeably oily which I personally did not mind. As for the highlight, it is the mashed potato! The mashed potato has a creamy consistency with tiny bits of potato throughout and a tasty rosemary flavour. These are one of the better mashed potatoes I have had.

8oz PRIME RIB, "Blu cheese red wine reduction, vegetables and potatos" ($30.00).
Food: 2.5/5.
BF ordered the daily special which we thought would be a prime rib roast, but meh. The steak is cooked to a medium rare as requested and tastes tender, juicy, and fatty. His sides are the same as mine and the presentation is consistent. As for the blu cheese reduction, the flavour is a touch overwhelming and tastes bitter along with heavily briny (this is selective of course).

TOTAL: $114.20 + TIP $17.80 = $132.00.

Our dinner at Carmelo's was underwhelming, especially considering that we I had high expectations walking in. Some of the items are average while others fall below, including basic Italian dishes such as the meatballs and pastas. As for the service, the staff could be more aware of their customers' surroundings. There were four waitstaff on the floor but it was hard to get their attention. The service did not even make up for the food and if it was not for having to tip 15% as a norm, I would have only liked to leave a $10.00 tip. We were not asked how our appetizers were too, only the entrees. If comparing my experience to at Amici's, I felt more welcomed and valued there.

- Monday $10.00 pasta promotions
- Food is not aggressively seasoned

- Food is below or just average
- Inexperienced staff (excluding the manager)
- Staff is not aware of customers' surroundings

- Was looking forward seeing breadsticks with the table bread:(
- Throughout our dinner, the manager refilled BFs coke a couple of times with the same glass and we were not charged for any refills. But as we were waiting for someone to pick up the bill, we asked for another refill and was told the restaurant charges for them. This was confusing because after confirming with the server, she mentioned she was not sure if the restaurant charges for refills and had to ask. How does a server not know if the restaurant charges for refills? It is not about having to pay, I just like business restaurants to operate consistently. Even after getting the new order of coke (which we did not have to pay for), she still did not know if the restaurant charges

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 2.5/5

Carmelo's on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday girl! You are a better person than me obviously. When it comes to the cola, for me it is about having to pay. i hate paying for refills because really, what is it? 2 cents? no i will not buy.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...