Italian KitchenPosted: 03/15/2013
Brunching with Cynthia is always fun, and it really is a shame that we can’t go out more often– school, work and (the ironic) lack of funds keeps getting in the way! When we do go, we always have a fantastic time, and this day was no different.
We originally planned on going to Coast, since we went for Dine Out the year before and loved the food, but it wasn’t open! No matter though, since there were a ton of other restaurants on Alberni for us to choose from– we ended up going to Italian Kitchen, which is also part of the Glowbal Group, right across the street.
The visit to Coast last year resulted in a coupon for a complimentary amuse-bouche from any Glowbal restaurant; imagine my surprise when it was still valid after a year in my drawer! These small bites of Bocconcini, Tomato and Arugula were presented to us first, atop of a small piece of chewy, fried bread. In addition, it was drizzled with a bit of olive oil, but as you can see, there isn’t much to the actual morsel. I wasn’t super impressed with this, but it’s free food from an old voucher– what did I really expect?
Brunching-with-Cynthia times also invariably ends up being Drinking-with-Cynthia times, so we also ordered a pair of Italian Sodas ($3.50) to go with our meal. The menu lists a variety of fruit syrups you can add to the soda (you can choose two), as well as a list of predetermined mixes. I chose the Mango/Apricot, while Cynthia chose the Pineapple Colada. We made these brunch-worthy by adding vodka (they offer other liquors too), for an additional $3.50. I really liked the soda, as it was refreshing and a nice change from drinks you’d normally get– there’s the fizziness of pop, but also the different fruit flavours of smoothies and juices. If I were to go to Italian Kitchen again, I’d be content with just having the non-alcoholic version (a pretty good and delicious deal, I think).
We actually arrived after 12, so “brunch” really isn’t a correct term for our date… but we were adamant in our brunching, and this reflected in the dishes we ordered. Our first dish to share was the Dungeness Crab Benedict ($18.95) from their Prima Colazione section (they also offer a Proscuitto Eggs Benedict and a Mushroom Benedict, as well as classic breakfasts and some less-than classic dishes, such as polenta and “breakfast pizza”). Our Crab Benny came with a side salad and hasbrowns. The eggs were poached a little too long for my tastes (the yolk wasn’t very runny), and the hollandaise was a little bland, but on a positive note, this allowed the fluffy crab to shine, as it wasn’t too overpowered by the other flavours. The English muffin was toasted just right, but it definitely would’ve benefited from more hollandaise and egg yolk. The potatoes were again, very lightly seasoned, so they didn’t have too much of an impact. I liked the salad, as it wasn’t too wet with dressing, but placing it on the warm plate probably wasn’t such a good idea, as the bottom pieces got a little wilty. Overall, the dish was a on the mediocre side, and I didn’t think it was worth the $19 we spent.
We didn’t realize that the Crab Benedict came with potatoes (only the salad was listed in the menu, and other menu items did list potatoes so we just assumed), so we ordered a side of Roasted Potatoes ($4.50) to share. This serving of potatoes was much more presentable and tasty than the ones that came with the Benny, so maybe it was a good idea to get them anyways. These came with more flavour than their plated counterparts, and were topped with crumbled parmesan cheese and parsley. Sometimes you just need a good potato dish to make a meal better, and I believe these did the job.
Since we were at Italian Kitchen, we couldn’t very well leave without trying something more Italian than an Eggs Benedict. Since we had a seafood breakfast item, we decided on the Spaghetti and Wagyu Meatballs ($17.95), which came in a spicy basil tomato sauce, topped with a blob of herbed ricotta cheese. The picture I took doesn’t really do it justice– in actuality, there was a pretty big portion of pasta, and the 3 meatballs were quite big as well. The spaghetti was prepared al dente, and there was just enough sauce for each noodle to be evenly coated–not that it’s a bad thing, but I do wish that there was a bit more. I don’t know too much about wagyu beef, but I reckon that once it’s in meatball form there really isn’t THAT big a difference from good ole’ regular beef. I’m also not a meatball expert by any means, but I did like these ones, as they were springy and light, but still substantial in size. The pasta was good overall, but I don’t know how comfortable I am with paying this much…
I had a pretty average experience at Italian Kitchen: our host and waitress was pretty helpful when giving us advice about our drinks, but otherwise there wasn’t much to comment on. I realize that because of location and the brand name prices would run high, but I was a little disarmed by our $50 bill at the end of lunch, even after a discount was taken (Cynthia had a coupon). The food was adequate and was nothing too special, and the modern decor was average (I like Coast and what used to be Sanafir better). Overall, I had a good time catching up with Cynthia, but I don’t know that I would return to Italian Kitchen in the future, especially when there are so many other great Italian places to visit downtown.
1037 Alberni St