Restaurants & Bars


cabrales | Feb 23, 2004 04:03 PM

I had a good-plus lunch at Feenie’s recently.

Feenie's has some of the qualities of the Lumiere bar area’s food, but which seems to be taking on its own character as well. The cuisine style seems to encompass bolder taste combinations and a greater willingness to experiment with oil-laden sensations (in a good sense) in dishes than the gastronomic portions of Lumiere, which tends to offer a more subtle cuisine (in a good sense).

I continue to like sampling the mixed drinks at Lumiere/affiliates. At Feenie’s, I began with the “Sweetheart” martini. It contained raspberry vodka, alize red passion, cranberry and lemon juices (C$8, or roughly US$6). It was an unusual frosty reddish pinkish color, and tasted appealing. It was not too sweet, in the red berry sense, and had good acidity.

(1) Feenie’s Cured Salmon, with warm brioche, with pickled shallots, lemon and crème fraiche (C$9 or roughly US$7) – I found this dish quite pleasant, with an appropriate preservation of the taste of the sockeye cured by the restaurant. The slices were arranged on a plate in a circular formation, and were individually relatively small. The texture was rather elastic, and the flavor of the fish could be discerned. The crème fraiche was presented in a quenelle, and had a mousse-like quality. The pickled shallots on top of the salmon, in small quantities, was appropriate, as was the confit lemon peel (mild for what it was). The warm brioche was tasty, and seemed identical to the brioche that accompanies the tasting of foie gras (Menu Decouverte, Foie Gras) available at the Lumiere tasting bar. The house curing of salmon is consistent with Chef Feenie’s having liked his mentor Charlie Trotter’s achievements very much. Trotters cures his own salmon (not sampled), which is also marketed to customers on a mail-order basis and in the store affiliated with his restaurant.

(2) Parpadelle, with braised short-rib meat, pine nuts and arugula (C$15 or roughly US$12)

This pasta was good-plus, consistent with the attractiveness of the fusili bolognese I have sampled several times at the Lumiere bar area. A good size, this dish consisted of broad, flat noodles imbued with a developed, attractive saucing that included tomatoes and chili oil. The bitterness of the slightly cooked arugula, coupled with their containing a bit of oil on their surface, made the dish more interesting. The braised short ribs were included as small sections of strandy, flavorful rib meat. The only constructive comment I have on this dish is that the pine nuts, which were an appropriate aspect of this dish, should have been included in more limited quantities. According to a recipe for this dish from a Canadian food network website, the ingredients are: olive oil, minced chilies, minced garlic, short rib jus, short rib meat, tomato sauce, arugula, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pine nuts.

I took in two glasses of Dark Horse Meritage 2001, Inniskillin, BC (C$13 each). This was quite intense-tasting, and went with the parpadelle relatively well.

(3) Marinated Pork Chop, marinated in brine, with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized pearl onions, and in ice wine and grainy mustard sauce (C$15)

Appropriately, when this dish was ordered, the dining room team member suggested that it be prepared medium. While my dining companions chose to have the pork chop cooked medium well, the medium level would have been my choice. A large, thick pork chop (without bone, in our case) had been marinated overnight. It was relatively fatty along the edges, and quite flavorful. The accompanying mushrooms were appropriate. The saucing was surprisingly mild given the utilization of mustard and the obvious appearance of grains in the saucing. The mustard was perhaps mitigated by the sweetness of the ice wine, which led to a saucing that tasted more generally of pork jus than either mustard or ice wine. Generally, a fairly good dish.

Sampled, but in smaller quantities:

-- Poutine, hand-cut fries with cheese curds and gravy (C$8): This was my first sampling of poutine ever. The regular order (as opposed to the C$3 supplement when the Feenie burger is ordered) is very, very large. To me, the fries could have been slightly more crisp, and the cheese curds more integrated into the fries. The cheese curds tasted like (but were not) melted mozzarella, and were relatively neutral-tasting. However, dining companions with experience in poutine indicated this was an appropriate rendition.

-- Side dish of sautéed wild mushrooms (C$9): These were average. There were some oyster mushrooms, and some shimejis (?).

Not meaningfully sampled:

-- Feenie burger, Angus beef with sauteed mushrooms, cheese, bacon, served with fries (no supplemental addition of foie or braised short ribs): The foie/braised short rib supplements appear to have been inspired by the db bistro moderne foie gras/braised short ribs/beef/black truffle burger conceived of by Daniel Boulud. There are four sauces -- a chili-spiked thousand-island-type sauce and a tomato-based horseradish-type sauce that are not different from those offered at db. The other two sauces were ketchup and mustard. Unlike the db burger, there is bacon in the burger and also a large pickle on the side. I didn’t taste this dish.

-- Chicken noodle soup, with free-range chicken breast and garlic crouton: Although this was an appetizer, its size was very large. There might have been in excess of an entire chicken breast in the soup. This is different somewhat from the version of chicken noodle soup sometimes available at the Lumiere tasting bar (e.g., this version held slightly-larger-than-cheerio-like-“O”-shaped noodles). The soup base was familiar from that at the Lumiere bar, though (slightly oily in a good way, near the top of the soup base). This soup alone would have sufficed for one diner’s lunch.

The assistance of the Feenie’s dining room team was very accommodating, and appreciated.

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