102 Water St.
Tastiness Factor: 6.5/10
Locavore Approved? Kinda- Although they do state on their website that they offer a "seasonally inspired dishes with fresh, local ingredients", they also highlight the fact that they are believers in "if its not broke don't fix it" mentality. This is true in that dishes tend to stay on the menu for long periods (the menu is basically the same now as when we visited several months ago) which limits their ability to feature local, seasonal ingredients. They do have some local menu items (ex. an all local salmon sampler appetizer, local cheeses) but a local focus is not present in the majority of dishes.
Flying Pig, opened now for a couple of years in Yaletown, came to my attention when they opened a new location on the corner of Water and Abbott in Gastown. This corner also happens to be the home of one of my favourite places in Gastown, the Juice Truck, and I noticed the signs for Flying Pig as I was satisfying my smoothie craving. The menu was intriguing and it got added to my ever-growing "to-go" restaurant list.
Hubby and I recently checked out their original Yaletown location for dinner on a Friday night. It is located in the heart of Yaletown on Hamilton St. and therefore it was not too surprising that it was packed on the night of our visit. Reservations are only accepted for lunch and brunch so you can expect a wait. We lucked out and got in very quickly when a little table in the corner in the front window of the restaurant became available (great for people watching!). The vibe of the space is laid back, with a noise level that is above the average. It is a great atmosphere for unwinding after a long week (the large bar certainly helps!).
We had a very personable waiter who, despite obviously being very busy, took time to answer our questions about the menu and came back to check in with us at regular intervals. The pace of the meal, however, was not ideal, with our appetizers arriving within minutes and our mains taking at least an hour (our server was profusely apologetic). I understand that they were busy but I would assume that this kind of volume is the norm on a Friday night.
The drink list contains a small but complete selection of wine, beer and spirits. Kudos for many BC options! There is a good range of pricing options, with a few "notable wines" for those who don't mind paying a little extra for something special.
In contrast to the succinct beverage list, the food menu was "clunky" and, in my opinion, a bit confusing. I get the "appetizer" and "entree" sections, but they lose me with the "sides". The sides, including gnocchi, short rib macaroni and pulled pork poutine, are very substantial and should perhaps be more accurately called "small plates". Most entrees already come with a starch and a veg so ordering a "side" on top of it is unnecessary.
Here is a look at our meal"
Complimentary bread- Although it is hard to complain when something is free, Hubby, the bread expert, was not at all impressed by the bread which tasted stale.
Rocket and Watercress Beetroot Salad- I quite enjoyed this salad, that could easily be enough for a light meal and for $9, it was quite a deal! There was a very generous helping of chèvre (local at that!) and seasonal pear. My only complaint is that it was overdressed for my liking, and the nuts were unnecessary with all the cheese. Overall though, this was a nice start.
House Salmon Sampler- Hubby's pick was this salmon plate, which was made of 3 preparations of LOCAL salmon- smoked salmon, candied salmon, and a salmon "cake" (more a fritter) topped with salmon roe. It came with a nice arugula salad and some bread. Again, the serving size was very generous for the price and could almost be a meal in itself or make a good sharing plate. This was our favourite of the evening.
Lobster and Prawn Risotto- Instead of a main, I decided to order two sides, which ended up being a good idea considering the hefty size of the appies. Unfortunately though, I made a bad choice in choosing the risotto which was bland and overcooked (where was the marscapone and citrus?). Although it sounds tempting, I would steer clear from this one.
Crispy brussel sprouts- This was my second choice of sides and was fortunately much more tasty than the risotto, although not the best I have had. They were overwhelmingly salty, mostly due to an excess of large capers.
TFP Signature Pork Rack- With the word "signature" in the title, Hubby was expecting good things but this was unfortunately the biggest miss of the night. The "pork rack" was actually just a single pork chip without hardly any meat on it (mostly fat). It came with an underwhelming side of pulled pork poutine with bland gravy and a few overcooked root vegetables. The sauce was really the redeeming part of the dish and even that was not great. Quite a disappointment.
Although there is no denying that Flying Pig offers great value, especially for Yaletown, we will not be returning. We felt that the menu was quite bizarre, with very large-portioned appies and sides that were more like small plates or small entrees. For us, the food itself left a lot to be desired.
Therefore, although the price was right, we will likely not be back again for dinner "until pigs fly".