Diva at the Met located inside the Metropolitan in downtown Vancouver doesn’t always come to mind when choosing a place to eat (well, for us anyways). It doesn’t hit 90% plus on Urbanspoon (which I don’t quite understand either) and Yelp’s only sitting at 3.5 stars with one girl complaining about the lack luster service and her ruined girls-night-out-Vday-dinner… Frankly, I believe there are many people who either order the wrong thing or don’t know what to appreciate the finer things in the category of food.
Chef Hamid Salimian, “may be the city’s most underrated chef”. He is voted by industry as “Best Chef in Vancouver” for the 16th Annual Golden Plates Awards 2013 hosted by the Georgia Straight newspapers. He’s been around The Apron in Richmond’s Westin Wall Center, Westin Bear Mountain Victoria, etc. Chef Hamid Salimian brings a refined Persian Fusion fine dining to your table, using modern gastronomy technique which is unique in the Vancouver market. I was more than ecstatic to come indulge on his tasting menu.
To make the experience closer to the kitchen we requested the Chef’s Table. Although, in hindsight it’s not really at eye level to peek at what is happening inside. You are better off requesting the corner sit right above the stairs, a little elevated for your viewing pleasure! Granted the decor of the restaurant is dated, chairs of somewhat uncomfortable and the ambiance doesn’t exactly match the food, but $55 for a 5 course meal is a bargain!
The tasting menu starts off with some amuse bouche. These single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre already raised the bar for our expectations.
Joojeh Kabab (Chicken kebab): a thinly pressed sheet of chicken skin that was neither greasy nor soggy. It is crispy, fragile and crunchy. A drop of garlic yogurt and chives was added for flavoring.
Porani of Ramps: Yogurt dip that is made with ramps, raisins, walnut, scallion, crisp ramp leafs. Tangy yogurt contrasts with the warm earthy flavors of walnuts and provides that added zing. Crisp ramp leafs balanced the dish with a tad of bitterness and texture.
Kashk e Bademjan: Eggplant caviar and a buttermilk and kashk (sour whey) macaron. The macaron was light, airy and just disintegrates in your mouth. The eggplant puree was served with mint and yogurt power. What a refreshing take on a traditionally sweet macaron. Such a tiny surprised packed full of flavors.
Sekanjabin Kaho: Chilled and cooling like a slurpee. Compressed romaine heart, apple mint gastrique caramelized sugar, deglazed with vinegar and romaine granita. A spoonful of this packs a invigorating sour punch. Not only did it wake us up, but it also served as a palate cleanser. If you are wondering, it doesn’t have the green-raw taste as a wheat grass shot. It is quite sweet underneath it all.
As we’re waiting for our a la carte lamb tartar to arrive, complimentary bread and butter. Butter is topped with brown butter powder. Breads are made in-house and a selection of poppy seed ciabatta, rye and sesame seed crisps are provided.
Lamb Tartar 14: green olive tapenade, sorrel puree, cracked wheat. I have to admit, my first thought was “where’s there rest of my dish!?”. My second thought (which out-weighted everything) was damn those green olive powder was amazing! Frozen with liquid nitrogen and combusted into fine dust, the cool powder made the flavors more concentrated and intense. The lamb was well seasoned and not gamey. Just tender. Secretly, I think we all wanted to lick the plate had it not been so disgraceful and visually unpleasant. Jokes.
Halva: chilled foie gras, preserved fig, almonds. A thin frozen sheet of foie gras torchon was buttery and creamy. Unlike other restaurants that have you believing more is better, but reality, you really don’t need a thick piece to satisfy your taste buds. Underneath the foie gras was a dish from southern Iran where the chilled halva is grated and is made from flour, sugar, rosewater, and saffron. Combine these with the sweetness of fig, toasted almonds, and the creamy foie gras for a sweet, savory and tangy orchestra of flavors.
Kookoo Sabzi: a beautiful pieace sable fish tender and moist inside and a crispy exterior. Drizzled with a zingy tart dill, orange, sunchoke consume. It is probably not a wise idea to just drink the soup, instead break off a piece of the fish, some sunchoke puree and a bit of the Kookoo Sabzi. Allow the flavors to gel together. The Kookoo Sabzi was dense quiche-like and packed full of various green vegetables and herbs like coriander, lettuce, parsley, dill and scallions.
Lamb: Tonight lamb was my friendenemy and I enjoy it’s tender flesh. Lamb two way in a tender medium rare striploin and crispy belly rolled in a roulade mirrors the crunchiness and roasted flavors of the crackling skin of a suckling pig. Served along side farro verde risotto, a delicious grain slightly smoky in taste and perfect for game.
Calamansi Sorbet: Like a pebble in a still lake, the calamnsi sorbet is crusted with sesame and sprinkled with some granulated sugars. The zesty South Asian fruit is accompanied with a honeyed pineapple and rose water sauce to mellow out the zing.
Bastani Akbar Mashti: Persian ice cream is one of my favorite desserts. Traditionally the story was told that the ancient Persian king so loved ice cream after returning from France that he had sent his chefs to France learn the art of making ice cream. Anyways, back to present day. This ice cream is made with saffron, pistachio, honey and rosewater droplets. Crispy wafers and sprinkled powder all adds to this delightful experience. There are so many textures and flavors to this dessert that is hard to describe.
Orange Date Marzipan: to wrap up the evening, bite size marzipan of sugar or honey and almond meal was presented wrapped in a fruit rollups of orange and date.
This dining experience was truly unique, full of colors and textures – like a symphony orchestra. My love for Persian culinary has definitely escalated and we look forward to a new menu Chef Hamid Salimian will be preparing.
Inside Metropolitan Hotel
645 Howe St Vancouver, BC V6C 2Y9
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