Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Roland's on Fourth

October 8, 2014

Brief note from J
A big thank you to the Roland's team who invited me over to check out their new menu. Roland's is currently the newest resto kid on the block (location is the old Hell's Kitchen). I always ask for bite-size samples / portions whenever possible, and today not being any different from any day that J likes to eat, Chef Dave and his team had their work cut out for them to practically halve every item they served to accommodate me. Thank you Chef Dave! More details on my chat w Roland (the owner) and Dave (the chef) after the dish reviews below.

ShowBiz Burger: In-house made 8oz beef patty, jalapeƱo bottle caps, crispy prosciutto, mac n’ cheese patty, aged cheddar, onion tanglers, roasted garlic aioli on a fresh baked bun, deep fried pickle - 2+

J's comment > a really good burger;

bun was soft yet resilient - didn't fall apart at all and managed to hold everything together; I loved that the bun is on the flatter side so that the portion of meat is able to stand a chance of being tasted underneath - this was quite well thought out as the mac n' cheese (an additional starchy item), is able to share the spotlight w the beef patty;

mac n' cheese patty was pure genius in its construction; except for a very few wayward macs that shook themselves free, 90% of the mac stayed intact from the first bite to (almost) the end - this was unfortunately served last so we were pretty full by then, but boy did I wish I had saved even more room; would have loved just a bit more cheese in both quantity and flavor though

loved the flavor in the beef patty, very beef-y and fresh, definitely had the homemade factor in same, I could taste the ground factor in each bite; patty could be a bit more moist, but I think that's cause the kitchen used lean ground beef (you know me, I'm all about the fat :D), the lack of moisture wasn't from overcooking same; also, could have used a tad more salt, but Chef Dave advised that he tends to use less salt in general as it's easier for patrons to add salt on their own

prosciutto was crisp like a chip as advertised; onion tanglers were also slightly crisp despite being squished between the bun and the mac; definitely had some heat in the center of the burger where the jalapeno caps were residing; deep fried pickle was crisp as expected on the outside and soft and pickl-y on the inside

FYI, I believe this is usually served w fries too (per the menu), but as we had poutine (below), the kitchen wisely left this item out on this dish

Roland’s Gourmet Poutine: Braised beef, home-cut fries, true Quebec cheese curds, red wine demi glaze - 2+

J's comment > decent fries, fresh and slightly crisp but w a mostly semi-firm/soft texture, but the real star on this dish were the beef and jus;

beef was incredibly tender and marbly, exactly the way I like my braised beef; a lot of other restaurants seen to think braised beef = dried out beef - thank you for correcting this point Chef Dave; jus was very flavorful and of the quality you'd expect from a fine dining restaurant on top of a steak; FYI, Chef Dave advised that this jus was made over the course of 48 hours, so please, please, please don't call this gravy! gravy is meat juice + cornstarch, Chef Dave's jus is 'just' meat jus; cheese curds were good too, nice big chunks for a decent mouthful, texture not rubbery at all

Linguine: Pesto cream w asiago cheese - 2

Penne Fresco: Bell peppers, olives, feta, garlic, olive oil, fresh basil - 2

Garlic toast - 2

J's comment > not bad; very light pasta flavors designed to enhance the pasta itself instead of drowning same in sauce; an exceptional mention was the pesto cream which was very creamy yet not heavy at all! if it only had just a tad more salt... but we've already covered that point above; FYI, Chef Dave advised that the pesto cream is made to order, and isn't just sitting in a vat somewhere in the kitchen; penne had just the right amt of freshly grated garlic; pastas themselves were a tad softer than I like though; garlic toast was soft all around, but served warm and fresh - decent amt of garlic butter on same (not for me (I eat butter straight up after all) but more than enough for most people)

747 Wings: Lemon & Garlic, Salt & Pepper, Chef’s special sweet & spicy sauces - 2

J's comment > wings deep fried well; batter crisp, but batter tad too much - I generally prefer my wings practically naked so that the skin can really shine if fried well; sauces were well done, lemon not too much, the Chef's special a good balance of sweet and hint spicy, salt and pepper could have used a touch more of its moniker though; sadly the flavors were limited to the outside of the batter and not marinated into the wings themselves - I brought this point up w Chef Dave and he advised that the wings had to be flavored after deep frying same so as to minimize wastage

Grilled Portobello Cap: Marinated whole portobello, sauteed baby spinach, caramelized onion, feta, reduced balsamic - 2

Tomaccini: Panko crusted roma tomato, bocconcini, prosciutto, fresh basil, spicy roasted bell pepper sauce - 2

J's comment > a well executed portobello, not soggy at all yet still moist and 'meaty'; personally I prefer my mushrooms w a bolder flavor, and as the 'vegetarian steak', I think I'm reluctant to get this with the other options presented at this based on its inherent 'disability';

the bocconcini - the two pieces shown was one entire round ball of bocconcini halved for us - was OK, kinda like a vegetarian chicken cordon bleu; firm but mild cheese as is the bocconcini signature; lightly crisped; definitely needs a bold, strong sauce; I would have liked more of the sauce to comment on but my partner guiltily gobbled up almost all of the sauce before I made my way over - I was told it was good sauce though and he's just as, if not more discerning than I am

hmm... I just realized both items on this dish were mainly vegetarian... and also my least liked dishes... what a coincidence ;D

Plum napoleon & coconut ice cream - 2

J's comment > liked the coconut ice cream, very fresh and light after the entire meal; napoleon was tricky to eat (as all napoleon's are, hence I always stay away from this dessert), pastry just won't break off exactly where you want it to, you smush it down to try and cut through it and the filling squirts halfway across the plate; I prefer my puff pastry flakier and crisper too, and this was more doughy; plum was more like jam; FYI, I've never come across a napoleon that I like

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Washington - 2

J's comment > not bad; a sweeter-than-most white wine that's very easy to drink (not much of a drink myself though)

Jean Bousquet Malbec, organic, Argentina - 2

J's comment > not bad; another sweeter-than-most red wine, easy to drink; smoky w hints of blackberries (or some berry or the other) 

Old Pal - 2

J's comment > OK, one more time, a slighty sweeter-than-most cocktail, easy to drink;

so at this point, after the third drink we ordered that was sweet (we did request sweet, but was pleasantly surprised to actually have our expectations met), we just had to ask if the rest of the drinks were all like that; Roland, the owner, affirmed that yes, the drinks menu was catered towards the sweeter tooth, so the majority of the drinks are on the sweet side 

The entrance

The bar

J's note on the setup and decor
One unusual point of observation on the setup is that the interior of the restaurant is parted into various sections - all sections are open ie no closed doors anywhere. Roland advised that despite the open space, each section is appropriately 'sound proofed' so that a loud party going on in one section will not disturb another section. There's also this really cool section at the back that I didn't get a picture of (/head smack) that you can plug your smartphone in to play your own music if you want. FYI, there's also a patio outside.

There are a lot of TV screens all around, and according to Roland, he puts on whatever channels the customers want, so if it's hockey night (like tonight), you get hockey in every direction you turn. On non-hockey nights, I was told he puts on pretty scenery views instead, but again, just ask for your fav channel and he'll make it happen.

Food Menu
FYI, items on the menu are still a-changing as Roland's continues to accept feedback from its clientele, but I'm pretty sure the Showbiz burger and poutine will be here to stay. Hence this isn't the final menu and the entire look will be different once things are more settled.

Wine and Beer Menu

Cocktail Menu

Roland's on Fourth on Urbanspoon

Extra Comments
I made sure to ask Chef Dave which supplier(s) Roland's use(s). So initially, Roland's sourced from one supplier but Chef Dave has branched out and is now using several suppliers. He tries his best to source locally, but it's a real challenge to balance the price point and the cost of local ingredients. The eg he gave was a pound of local scallops that cost $68!! Wow! I had no idea. 

Also, Chef Dave informed us that 80% of all the dishes are made in house from scratch, eg. the jus

Jason (the manager) who initiated contact, was very friendly and so were the servers who served us. Thanks for reaching out Jason!

Fun Notes
Despite it's location (yogi side Kits where the healthy people grow), Roland informed us that since their opening, only one customer has inquired about gluten free options.

Chef Dave is 52, has been cooking in a professional capacity for 34 years but doesn't look a day over 35. Seriously, pop in to say hi and ask him what his beauty secret is ;D

Labels: bar, burger, kitsilano, pub

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