Wednesday, January 7, 2015

41 West Restaurant

West 41 is a small and quaint neighbourhood restaurant in Kerrisdale, serving West Coast cuisine with a bit of French influences. There are only around ten tables in the restaurant, but the seating arrangements are not too tight. The atmosphere is also fairly cozy, relaxing and non-rushed.

I purchased a Social Shopper voucher for 41 West and forgot about it until the last minute, as in a night before the expiry date. Fortunately though, I was lucky enough to score last minute reservations for the weekend by calling just the evening before. When I called to make the reservations however, the host was very rushed and impatient, despite that there was no background noise.

We arrived on a Friday evening and there was only one seated table, but the restaurant reached a half full occupancy throughout the duration of our stay. With regards to the service, there was only one server handling the front of the house. He was courteous and polite, but not quite attentive. Our appetizer plates sat at the table for longer than usual and my bread knife was never removed throughout all three courses, which I find odd.

The fresh dinner rolls exhibit a crisp exterior along with a soft crumb, and are served with a side of shaved butter. The only complaint is that the rolls were creeping up to luke warm instead of warm. However, when we asked for another order of rolls to have with the mussels, the bread was served very hot and straight out of the oven!

CAESAR ($9.00).
Rating: 0/5.
Ordering the Caesar was the biggest mistake of the evening because this is the worst one I have ever had. The bland Caesar has a slight tomatoey taste, but no other flavours whatsoever.

SEAFOOD GUMBO, "New Orleans influenced, variety of seafood and vegetables in a tomato base" ($8.50).
Rating: 3.5/5.
The gumbo is well executed and includes a good amount of ingredients. There is a rich seafood flavour along with a nice lingering spiciness and all the ingredients are just cooked, not one second over. The scallop and mussels are well rinsed, where the scallop tastes tender and the mussels are juicy. On top of that, the pieces of fish taste moist and the fresh diced tomatoes provide that juicy burst of refreshing flavour. I highly recommend the Seafood Gumbo.

DUNGENESS CRAB AND SHRIMP CAKES, "Our signature appetizer made from Head Chef's secret recipe, with our chipotle aioli" ($15.00).
Rating: 2.5/5.
A signature dish is always considered a must order to me, so we tried the crab and shrimp cakes. The appetizer includes three cakes along with a spring mix salad. The salad looks heavily dressed and is, but the dressing tastes light and not overwhelming.

As for the highlight, the crab and shrimp cakes exhibit a crisp crunch which I prefer over a hard crunch. The cakes are lightly packed with loose fluffy crab meat and the red pepper provides a bit of juiciness. The aioli also provides that extra moisture and tastes light, but not rich enough in my opinion.

MUSSELS MARINIERE, "In a white wine and cream sauce" ($11.00).
Rating: 3.5/5.
Like the Seafood Gumbo, the mussels are just cooked and not one second over. In addition, the mussels are thoroughly rinsed (which some restaurants do not bother with) so there is no heavy lingering seafood flavour. The mussels have that natural sweetness and taste very juicy, which is complimented by the light cream sauce. The cream sauce light but tasty, making it one of the better ones I have had.

Rating: 1/5.
Unfortunately, the seafood dishes at 41 West may be the restaurant's speciality because the steak is overcooked. The steak is cooked to a medium instead of medium rare as requested and tastes very dry, creeping up to stringy. This is a shame because the steak is well seasoned.

Even with the help of the light beefy peppercorn sauce, the steak could not be saved. I like how the green peppercorn is not overwhelming too. As for the sides, the poached green beans and carrots have a nice crunch, and the potatoes are soft. There could have been a nice crust on the potatoes, but it was fine.

Rating: 1.5/5.
Beginning with the sides, the mushroom risotto is undercooked and the rice tastes hard along with powdery on the inside. This is another disappointment because there was a mild cheesy flavour, but undercooked rice is already a failure. As for the poached spinach, it is thoroughly rinsed and tastes tender.

I am not a fan of ordering short ribs at restaurants because most of the time the meat is not braised long enough and tastes dry. Or even worse, fast boiled. However, I enjoyed the first piece of short rib. The fork tender meat had been slowly braised and no knife was required. But, why was the second piece different? The second piece which was slightly larger and tasted very dry along with stringy (the photo on the left is from the first piece). As for the au jus, there was a nice hit of star anise and the flavours were not too strong.

Rating: 2.5/5.
41 West offers a regular cheesecake, but the caramel variation was the special of the evening. BF started on the cheesecake from the back and mentioned the dessert is very dry. At the time I gave him an evil glare because I was thinking, what are you talking about? But because I started on the cheesecake from the front, there is a great topping from the caramel which resulted in a soft crunch. The caramel tastes rich and thick, with a controlled level of sweetness. Without the caramel, whipped cream and berries however, the cheesecake is indeed dry, like a compressed spongecake. The highlight is definitely the caramel!

Voucher Price: $39.00 + Extras $32.80 + Tip $13.20 = $85.00.
Original Price: $110.75.

The voucher included an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert to share for only $39.00 which is a great value. However, I am glad we ordered additional appetizers such as the Seafood Gumbo and Mussels because those dishes are the highlights from the restaurant. I kind of wish we stopped there though because we would have left the restaurant on a positive note, rather than feeling disappointed about the entrees. With regards to the bill, it would have been nice if the original value was provided rather than the voucher price. We ended up tipping on the voucher value because the service was lacking and we did not want to add up the total at the restaurant (neither should it be our job to). The server overall was courteous for the times he dropped by our table to deliver the dishes, but there could have been some additional service as well (such as removing the empty plates and cutlery in a timely manner, asking if we need more drinks and checking up on us throughout the meal).

- Cozy atmosphere
- Courteous gentleman
- Great seafood dishes

- Inattentive service
- Poor Caesar drink and entrees

- Not really fine dining...
- Stick to the seafood dishes
- Seafood Gumbo and Mussels are highly recommended

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 2.5/5

41 West Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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