American Grille (Dine Out Vancouver 2012)Posted: 03/24/2012
On a dreary winter’s night, the gang and I headed out to the faraway lands of Richmond to partake in one of DineOut Vancouver’s many offerings. Okay, Richmond isn’t THAT far away from where we live… but having to get there in the cold and wet just makes it seem that much farther. Good thing we were able to organize rides!
Since we were a little slow on the uptake this year, choosing a restaurant was a little difficult—we needed to find a place with a worth-your-money-menu (basically, a menu with seafood or steak) that could also fit our rather large group. And so we ended up at American Grille, which is inside the Marriott Hotel on the corner of Westminster and Minoru in Richmond.
With In Hye and me tonight were our friends Dolph, Yvonne, Hui, Angela, Jessica, Scottie, SB, David, Darek and Bruce. We were seated in our own section of the restaurant, which was great since we probably got a little loud (for a hotel-restaurant crowd, anyway) as the night wore on. Nevertheless, servers still came by periodically to check up on us, making sure that everything was going fine throughout the night—I think they came by with water at least 3 times. The $28 menu included an appetizer (Qualicum Scallops over Couscous, Flank Steak Salad or Garlic Soup), entrée (Lamb Shank, Ahi Tuna Steak or Butternut Squash Ravioli) and dessert (Peach Melba, Banana Walnut Cake or Calamansi & Passion Fruit Sorbet).
For starters, we had the requisite Bread Basket. This one included two different kinds of baguette and some sesame crackers. What can I say, it was bread—nothing spectacular, but I did like that it came warm and with loads of butter. And they brought over two for our table, so I could indulge in my pre-meal carbs. Yum. Bruce and I chose the Flank Steak Salad appetizer. The steak was cooked a perfect medium-rare (sorry about the bad picture quality, I had to use my phone), and the greens underneath were still cool and crisp despite the warmth of the meat. There was just enough vinaigrette covering the leaves, and it worked in complete balance with the steak, which definitely stood out in flavour. Nearly everyone else had the Jumbo Scallops Couscous (Darek had the soup), which consisted of two large scallops over some greens, figs and couscous. In Hye thought that the couscous was a little too moist, but they did not detract from the sweet, well-cooked scallops. The figs that I ate were sweet and (surprisingly) juicy, and I liked dipping it into the citrus vinaigrette as it added a different dimension to the fruit.
We didn’t have to wait too long after that for our mains. Being Asian, we ordered the meat and the seafood to get our money’s worth (pasta seemed like a boring choice, anyway). All the guys had the Slow Braised Lamb Shank, which came with parsnip puree (not mashed potato, to our surprise) and grilled onions. This was fall-off-the-bone tender, and there weren’t any complaints about it.
The rest of us had the Grilled Ahi Tuna Steak with Warm Potato Salad. I’m not that big of a tuna person, but I enjoyed the different textures of the tuna, which was grilled just right—it was only lightly seared, so that most of the fish was still pink inside. The warm potato salad was really just a bed of roasted vegetables in olive oil (not like the salad I had in my appetizer). Included were yellow and green beans, nugget potatoes, whole cherry tomatoes, and my favourite part, quail eggs!The beans were squeaky and crunchy, the potatoes were cooked just right, the tomatoes were squishy (in that delightful, pops-in-your-mouth kind of way), and the quail eggs were just the slightest bit runny.
For dessert, I had the Calamansi and Passion Fruit Sorbet in Raspberry Pepper Soup. Raspberry Pepper Soup, you read that right. The tartness of the calamansi was really all I could taste in the sorbet; I couldn’t pick out the passion fruit flavour at all. Nevertheless, it was refreshing and went along nicely with the lightly spiced and minty raspberry soup-sauce. The sorbet was surrounded by honeydew and cantaloupe balls, which really rounded out the dessert. I liked the mingling of flavours in this dessert; it was definitely something different.
I’d say this was a pretty good experience at the Marriott. The food was great, service was welcoming (Vanessa, the woman who took my reservation, was very accommodating) and the prices were quite reasonable– but then again, it was DineOut. Another thing worth noting is that there is free parking in the hotel; you just have to register your plate with the host at the restaurant. Despite its location in Richmond, I could see myself returning in the future if I was looking for a low-key, solid meal.
7571 Westminster Highway