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La Quercia – Photo Visit – May 2012

8 May

3689 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

T: 604 676 1007
www.laquercia.ca

Brief Description: A small, intimate neighbourhood restaurant located on the corner of Alma and West 4th, La Quercia offers exceptional Italian food and wine at reasonable prices.

B and I had been plotting our return to La Quercia for some time before friends had mentioned recently that they’d had to wait almost two months (!) for a reservation. Our trip came sooner, rather than later, when I phoned last week and received the surprising news that they could actually take us on Sunday evening…at 5pm…which was definitely earlier than I was anticipating but I snapped up the reservation as I was uncertain how long it would be before another came along.

We ordered what must be one of the best deals in the city – 7 course alla famiglia (a chef’s menu that everyone at the table shares) for $45. I’m still floored by this as it is such good value for money. I was so full by about dish 4 that I struggled to get through the rest of the dishes, but I persevered and made myself walk all the way home as a way to burn off some of the calores. The stand-out dishes for me were the pork belly and the pasta dishes, particularly the stinging nettle agnolotti.

Lattuga con salsa Bolzanese: Butter lettuce and trout

Parmesan Souffle

Pork belly, canederli, cappuccio

Stinging Nettle Agnolotti

Lamb Ragu Gnocchi

Rabbit Duo, leg of rabbit and sausage wrapped with proscuitto

Lemon cream with citrus segments

Final Thoughts: As I mentioned earlier, the chef’s menu must be the best value in the city – $45 for 7 courses or $60 for 10 courses, but you can also order à la carte. La Quercia remains cozy (it is a small space) and the service is still attentive and thorough. La Quercia really has a lot to offer so I can see why they are constantly booked up. Try to book well in advance and go hungry!

La Quercia on Urbanspoon

Dog-sitting = a trip to La Quercia – April 2011

9 Apr

3689 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

T: 604 676 1007
www.laquercia.ca

Brief Description: A small, intimate neighbourhood restaurant located on the corner of Alma and West 4th, La Quercia offers exceptional Italian food and wine at reasonable prices.

Ever since B and I have been together we have always dreamt of owning a dog. Whilst other couples gaze longingly at babies, we have always “oohed and aahed” over dogs. Until we dog sat. We eagerly volunteered to dog-sit our friend’s dog, Jack, a super cute Boston terrier with an incredible amount of personality. This meant 10 days of early morning walks (in the rain), late night walks (in the rain), and constant monitoring and attention-giving. It was hard work! So, although we love him and it was fun to have his little face around the condo, we are no longer in a rush to buy a puppy. :(

Our friends were grateful that little Jack didn’t have to spend 10 days in a kennel and so, as a thank you, they took us out for dinner at a restaurant of our choice. We chose to return to La Quercia as it has been almost a year since our last visit. We find the small and intimate La Quercia is less formal than fine dining so that makes it an ideal dinner spot for a date or special occasion.

This time around we opted for à la carte rather than the alla famiglia (a chef’s menu that everyone at the table shares). Although I like eating my own meal, I still have really fond memories of the alla famiglia so I would still recommend that for first time visitors. Since learning how to make pasta by hand, and realizing how much work goes into it, I always try to order pasta at places that make it from scratch. Therefore, I had no choice other than to order a pasta, the garganelli carbonara, to start my meal. The pasta was perfectly al dente but I would have preferred a little more of the sauce.

My main course was the lamb shoulder with rapini and lentils. A delightful slight crust on the meat gave way to tender lamb that was falling off the bone (like lamb should). There was, dare I say it, too much meat for this part-time vegetarian but that’s what B is for…to vaccum it up. At $27 I found the lamb to be good value for money.

One my fondest memories of our first visit to La Quercia was of the blueberry semifreddo, a creamy yet fruity semi-frozen dessert. So, not surprisingly, one of my fondest memories of our most recent trip is also of the semifreddo, this time in raspberry. Made from real fruit, the flavours of the semifreddo were vibrant and tangy which paired well with the delicate raspberry mousse and lemon cake. I found the cake to be slightly dry but still a nice way to end a great meal.

One of the things that we  are still talking about is the complimentary bread that was chewy on the inside, yet crunchy on the outside. We both said later that if we hadn’t been in company we would have each happily devoured a basket of that bread!

Final Thoughts: La Quercia is still a winner as a romantic neighbourhood restaurant that serves up unpretentious, authentic Italian cuisine. Our evening was totally worth the 10 days of early morning dog-walks and cleaning up dog pee.

La Quercia on Urbanspoon

La Quercia

6 Jul

3689 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

T: 604 676 1007
www.laquercia.ca

Brief Description: A small, intimate neighbourhood restaurant located on the corner of Alma and West 4th, La Quercia offers exceptional Italian food and wine at reasonable prices.

Occasionally on my dining out adventures I stumble across a restaurant that completely wows me and leaves me wanting to return immediately. Although I had heard only glowing reviews of La Quercia and although the restaurant is always booked solid, I didn’t really believe that La Quercia would be one of those restaurants. Boy, was I mistaken! Considering that I’ve only been once, this may be a bit premature, but I’m going to go out there and say that it is already up there with my favourite restaurants in the city.

The restaurant is quite small – it likely only seats about a dozen tables. The interior of La Quercia is minimalistic, naturally lit and very welcoming. Wood flooring, framed art and simple black seating paired with crisp white tablecloths, gives it a classic style. Seating is somewhat squishy – we were practically sitting with a couple and their child for dinner which wasn’t exactly romantic. However, it didn’t dampen the experience too much for us. We were immediately welcomed at the door and given an introduction to how the menu works. Quite simply, you have two choices: 1/ Order a la carte, or 2/ Order Alla famiglia where you and your fellow diners are at the mercy of the chef. The chef chooses your dishes (based on your guidance, of course) and you and your companions share a 5 or 9 (!!) course dinner. As I’ve previously mentioned I love the concept of sharing food and so we could not pass up the opportunity for the 5 course Alla famiglia. Service was very attentive throughout our meal as the waiter took a lot of time to explain the daily specials and what each dish was when it was served. Perhaps it was because we were there for the 5.30pm seating on a Sunday but we could not fault the service. With our order for the Alla famiglia dinner in, all we could do was sit back and sip on our drinks, awaiting the arrival of the first course.

Course 1: Lattuga con salsa Bolzanese (Butter lettuce, dressing of chive, horseradish, egg). This dish reminded me of egg salad, which I just adore (it brings back lots of great childhood memories). Refreshing and light, it made for an appropriate starter.

Course 2: Sformato di Parmiggiano (Parmesan soufflé with aged balsamic). I was glad when it was delivered to the table as it was one of the dishes that had caught my eye on the regular menu. We both thoroughly enjoyed the soufflé – it was light and fluffy but had a lot of cheesy flavour. Delicious.

Course 3: Quail and Pork Belly drizzled with an anonymous, yet incredible sauce. The pork belly was the highlight of this dish. It was perfectly tender with a crunchy piece of crackling that oozed delicious fat that had B and I battling it out for a piece. I have not had a piece of pork that has tasted that good in a very long time. Hats off to the chef. Quail is a meat that is lost on me and although I did try it, I gave up the small offering of bird to B. It was his birthday after all ;). We used the complimentary bread to mop up the rest of the sauce. We weren’t letting any of it go to waste.

Course 4: Agnolotti di Guido (Stuffed pasta, veal, chard, ricotta, parmigiano). This dish was absolutely delicious. The delicate jus that lightly coated the pasta parcels complimented the ingredients in the pasta, rather than stealing the limelight from them.

Course 5: Spaghetti al’amatriciana (smoked pork cheek, chillies, san marzano tomatoes). A rustic and traditional spaghetti. Simply divine.

Course 6: Tender lamb and vegetables. This was a surprise dish as we thought we were done at course 5. Thank goodness they were being generous as this dish was one of the highlights of the meal. The lamb was juicy and tender and the vegetables were extremely tasty (including the brussel sprouts!).

Course 7: Apple-Raisin Strudel, Stewed Rhubarb and Crema de Limone, and a Blueberry Semifreddo. At this point, we were so impressed by all of the other courses that they could have served us up dirty gym socks for dessert and we still would have left happy. The fact that there were 3 dessert options instantly won me over (they had me at “hello”). If that wasn’t enough, they then had to go and make them all vastly different yet each as spoon-lickingly wonderful as the next. My favourite was the Blueberry Semifreddo – it was dense and creamy, yet refreshing. The ice-cream that topped the strudel was a close second. I cannot recall exactly what the flavour was but my taste-buds remember every happy moment of it. Even though the Semifreddo and the ice-cream were my favourite part of the dessert that didn’t take anything away from the deliciousness of the other desserts. What a fantastic way to end an amazing meal!

Final Thoughts: Well, I think it goes without saying that I loved our visit to La Quercia. Honestly, I could not fault the experience one bit. The value for money was a big reason why I enjoyed it so much – we received all of this exquisite food for only $43 each. With quite a few drinks and gratuities, we left spending about $160 for the two of us; well worth it for the evening that we had. I found La Quercia to be unpretentious and inviting. I will definitely be returning and I will be recommending it to anyone and everyone. Make sure you book well ahead – the word is out – so it fills up fast.

La Quercia on Urbanspoon

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