100 Nights

May 28, 2011
I bought the $12 Groupon for the 3-course lunch tasting menu at 100 Nights in Yaletown. Back in the day the place was still known as 100 Days, it created quite the sensation as the concept of a pop-up restaurant was relatively new to Vancouver. I had wanted to try it out, but was discouraged by the long line-ups that stretched around the block. Now that it has been renamed to 100 Nights, the hype seems to have died down and Groupon gave me the chance to finally give it a try. The location is very convenient as it's literally a one minute walk from the Canada Line station at Yaletown. I found the decor rather interesting as the furnishings looked inexpensive but conveyed a sense of urban trendiness. The plastic chairs weren't very comfortable though and took away from the enjoyment of the meal.

The seasonal lunch menu costs $25 at regular price, and offers 3 choices for both the appetizer and entree and 2 choices for dessert.

I visited with my parents, so we were able to try a few different dishes. The rosemary gnocchi came with wild BC smoked salmon in a pool of green sauce that I had thought to be pea puree. Luckily it was chive cream, so I was spared from that grassy pea taste. The salmon was smoked in-house and was drier and more thoroughly cooked than the frozen smoked salmon I'm used to from the grocery store. It still tasted pretty good though, and the gnocchi was crispy with a chewy interior. The portion was a lot larger than I had expected for a tasting menu and as both the salmon and gnocchi were quite filling, I felt somewhat sated by the time I finished this dish.

In comparison, the baby spinach leaf salad was very refreshing with thin apple slices and a touch of richness from the goat cheese and bacon vinaigrette.

The roasted asparagus spears served with a fried poached egg was perhaps the least exciting appetizer on the menu. The asparagus was slightly crispy from being roasted while the stalks were soft. I'm not into fried egg at all, so I can't really comment on the taste.

The entrees were smaller in size than we had expected, but were large enough for tasting purposes. My mom and I both ordered the local cod fillet, but quality did not seem to be consistent. I got a much larger piece of fish that was very tender and seasoned perfectly, while her fish was only half the size with less tender meat and an overly salty rub. But she got 3 perfectly round cherry tomatoes while I got just one half-squashed tomato in my soup. I loved my fish, but was turned off by the wrapped-up zucchini slice that tasted slimy and grassy. The tomato soup actually tasted pretty good, but I didn't drink much because it was served lukewarm.

The pork fillet medallion surprised me as I had no idea that pork could be so tender. That was the reason I had shied away from ordering it, but this changed my predisposition completely. I initially mistook the potatoes for yam because of the dark purple colour. Too bad they were potatoes though because I would've preferred yam.

Time for dessert! The apple and almond frangipane tart came with a carefully moulded scoop of ice cream. Unlike regular ice cream, this was unusually smooth and velvety. I would've thought it to be mousse or cream if it weren't for the coldness. The flavour was unique as well, as this was the first time I had tasted fig and Marsala wine ice cream. As for the tart itself, the crust was too hard and the filling was nothing special.

The ginger and lemon panna cotta was another dish that surprised me. Maybe I've never had good panna cotta before, but my memory was of a white grainy pudding with artificial vanilla flavour. This panna cotta was silky smooth with the richness of milk and a refreshing hint of lemon. The candied ginger shreds and the tart poached rhubarb on the side were the perfect complement to the creamy pudding.

The service was very friendly during the meal and even after. I actually got a courtesy call from the restaurant the next day asking about my experience. For $12, the lunch was a steal. At the regular price of $25 though, there are probably other options considering the chairs weren't all that comfortable and most of the dishes were not super impressive. But with the friendly service and decent food, I might be interested in returning.

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