Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's Worth Putting Fancy Clothes On For: Veneto Tapas Lounge


Ignore the somewhat irritating flash website, and the in-your-face high style of the Veneto Tapas Lounge. For all of it's obvious pretensions, they solidly deliver on service, taste, and quality.

My guy and I started with the charcuterie board with cured meats, smoked sausage, grilled artisan bread, and baby mozzarella skewer for $19 Cdn. That with our two drinks was simply enough food right then and there. This is a true charcuterie board - the chef presents a range of smoked, sweet and salty for you to mix and match and compare flavours. Each item on the board had a flavour different from the next, and we spent a good 20 minutes eating, and talking about how each tasted.

Obviously, it was good.

If we had known how much food the board was going to be, we probably wouldn't have ordered two tapas style entrees - lamb and crab.

My guy had the lamb: a slider with roma tomato minted yogurt; a lamb/shrimp kabob in cilantro lime marinade; and coconut-braised lamb shank with red Thai curry sauce. The lamb kabob was simply fantastic, slow-roasted awesomeness. We were in New Zealand in April, and the kabob was better than anything we had there.

I had the crab: blue crab shiitake mushroom and chive linguine; blue crab spring roll with fresh carrot cilantro coconut dipping sauce; and roasted chili and crab nachos with ranchero sauce. The linguine rivaled anything I've had at Zambri's. And Zambri's I think makes perfect pasta dishes. The spring roll was honestly too dry, and the sauce overpowered the crab roll. It was my least favourite of the dishes. The nachos were an interesting combo. Unlike the crab roll, the crab on the nachos weren't over powered by the ranchero sauce.

Each tapas style entree is $19 a piece.

We finished off with two more drinks and that's all the damage we could do. Absolutely no room for dessert.

The service - perfect. The first question they asked was if we were in a hurry to get somewhere. And we said no. And then our server just ghosted in and out over a 90 minute period, never pushing us to order more, less or more expensive.

A note to you if you are thinking of going: I asked when I made the reservation if there was a dress code, plainly stating that I was wearing shorts and sandals. They said - no dress code, just come as you are. But if you go in anything less than business casual or party clothes, you'll feel like a schmuck.

We dropped well over $100 bucks that night.

Is this the best high end offering in town as some have told me? I think that's debatable. But I don't regret the cash spent.

Veneto Tapas Lounge - You Do Not Suck.

                  --Reviewed by Rosa

Veneto on Urbanspoon