Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pure Spirits Oyster House and Grill

Dinner last night was in the Distillery District, a short drive from Yorkville. Wanted to drop into The Wine Establishment on the Esplanade, but it was closed by the time we got there. I was really keen on picking up some Riedel stems, but WS had a slim selection. It seems they expect everyone who walks in to be strictly Sommelier drinkers - spending $100 per glass is a bit excessive, no matter who you are.

The Distillery District is a nice area, but under-developed. It's a shame, because it's a nice place to chill, if it was cleaned up. Not too interested in the art stuff going on there (bizarre digitally manipulated images of naked bodies juxtaposed on a forest floor??) , but otherwise, it can be charming place. Bought some chocolate at that place where you can see them make it...and I don't even have a sweet tooth.

Dinner was at Pure Spirits Oyster House and Grill. I've had lunch there before, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We were a bit early for our reservation, so took a seat at the bar. Started with two glasses of Megalomaniac Narcissistic Riesling and a bowl of calamari. The wine was delicious - perfectly balanced, with great sweetness and racy acidity. Leaves your palate tingly and satisfied. At $11 a glass, reasonable. Calamari was another matter. Fresh and plump, but far too greasy. Please, please, rest them on a paper towel after you take them out of the oil.

Our booth was ready for us - to start, we began with a salad on white honey vinaigrette and a half dozen oysters - Kumomoto, Island Creek, and Blue Point, from Washington, New York, and Massachusetts. The oysters were delicious - very fresh, perfect brininess. I don't really understand why you need all the other condiments - a drop or two of lemon juice is all you need. If you have, you know, taste. The salad, alas, was fresh but again, the dressing was too oily. I would rather have it more acidic than oily.

For entrées, we enjoyed a pan-seared Pacific Sablefish, and a whole roasted Sea Bream. The Sablefish was perfectly seared, garnished with string beans and white asparagus. But my goodness, this dish is just too greasy. Sablefish has that natural oil and richness, and I would have preferred if the sauce was a foil to the fish's creamy texture and flavour. Instead, the sauce only exacerbated the inherent greasiness. Unfortunate, because the fish was wonderful. The Sea Bream, was absolutely delicious. Very, very tender, with the skin perfectly crispy. So much flavour, and the presentation of the whole fish was great.

The wine went well with all the dishes. But to counter the chef's richer and high oil content cooking, I went for a beer. Okanagan Spring Pale Ale, a darkish amber coloured brew, with wonderful intial sweetness and hoppy character on the finish. Delicious. Perfectly cleansed the palate. This beer has really inspired me to begin seriously exploring ales this summer.

For dessert, just a crème brûlée. Sweet.

This is a great restaurant, with fresh, seasonal foods, but the cooking is just too greasy. I'm sensitive to foods that are too oily - I'm sure many people won't mind though. Otherwise, dinner was a great experience. Friendly staff, good ambiance in the restaurant...decent Riedel stemware. I'd go back - for lunch.

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