Last Sunday evening, a few of us food bloggers got together for yet another meal. A bit of a smaller group this time, Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures), Karl (The Friday Lunch) and Kim (I’m Only Here for the Food!) and I went to try out the new kosher restaurant in Kitsilano called Maple Grill. Darina (Grantinee) was also supposed to come, but it turned out the poor girl was sick and couldn’t make it.
When I walked inside, I noticed that the atmosphere was quite dark and there were several small chandeliers throughout the dining room. A bar was to the right of the entrance, with a variety of stools and tables surrounding it, and to the left was a raised larger main area, where the majority of the patrons were eating. Our group was seated in the back corner of the room, which was somewhat discreet and handy since we all ended up pulling out our cameras throughout the meal and garnering a substantial amount of curious gazes from the staff and other diners.
We all started off with our drink orders, and found out that the restaurant wasn’t going to have their alcohol license until the following day. I was content with that for once and just went with a pineapple soda, while the guys ordered some other fountain beverages, which I believe are refillable.
I was excited to jump right in and try a lot of different food that evening, as it’s been quite awhile since I’ve had a decent full-on kosher meal (an ex-boyfriend is Jewish and we always had amazing Friday night dinners that his mother would make for the family – she was an extremely excellent cook).
We decided to all share a soup and a couple of starters, the first of which was the Baba Ghanoush. The eggplant dish was served with whole wheat pita-like triangles, and was topped with black olives and some green onion. I found this to be quite refreshing, although it could have used a bit more lemon or something to give it a little more bite – it just seemed to be slightly lacking in flavour.
The next traditional menu item was the Hummous. Again, this was served with plenty of pita, and was topped nicely with olive oil and some roasted red pepper. The texture was actually quite thick and not completely smooth, to the point where you could definitely tell that there were chickpeas within, but I did think it needed something more to round it off and make it more interesting to taste. There was a fair amount of garlic as far as I could tell, but it either needed more cumin (if there even was any to begin with), and more lemon as well.
The classic Matzoh Ball soup was also a must try for all of us, so we got a couple of bowls and shared them out between the four of us. There were two dumplings in each, so it worked out perfectly. The chicken soup broth itself was really light (a bit too light, I think) and not overly salted and contained some carrot and fresh dill, which is always so fragrant and delicious. However, I found the matzoh balls themselves to be quite dense and heavy, whereas I think my personal preference is to have them a bit more light and soft in texture.
Now on to the mains!
We all wanted to try everything, so we made sure to get something different from one another. I went for the Lamb Chops Dijon, which is one of the two priciest items on the menu at $32 (along with the Ribeye). This was actually my favourite main of all that we had that night, and it was cooked medium rare and was very tender and delicious. I chose to have the Israeli Salad (a very fresh combination of many vegetables) and the Basmati and Wild Rice (light and fluffy) for my two sides (you can have any two options with the entrees, and they are also all you can eat). I’d even have to say that my two sides turned out to be the best of them all, and I believe that Karl, Sherman, and Kim all agreed. One thing you’ll also notice in all of the pictures is that Maple Grill definitely doesn’t have any shortage of rosemary!
My second favourite meat option during dinner was the Maple Salmon, which is marinated in maple syrup and orange. The fish was cooked just right, and had a great sweet flavour that I would want to cook at home again and again. I’ve even been off cooked salmon lately, and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of this that I tried. The sides served with this were a bland and strangely textured Saffron Risotto and Steamed Seasonal Vegetables (green beans in this case). While I didn’t try the green beans, Sherman mentioned that they were slightly overcooked.
Next in line was the Mezurashii Ahi Tuna, with Roasted Bell Peppers and Asparagus and Rosemary Potatoes on the side. The fish itself seemed to be cooked fairly well – it was seared rare with a honey soy glaze and topped by a Hawaiian fruit salsa (with strawberries, mango and avocado and pea shoots), and sesame seeds. The potatoes themselves were average, and while I’m not a huge fan of roasted peppers, I loved the beets that came with it.
Last of all, we had the Turkey Schnitzel with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Szechuan Chop Suey. I found the meat to be quite bland and slightly dry as well. The vegetables were a variety of green beans, carrots, red bell peppers, and a few others. Again, these sides weren’t anything special, in my opinion.
As for dessert, I was the only one that wanted to order something, so I went with the daily special – the Poppyseed Ring with Soy Vanilla Ice Cream. I’ve had this before, from a kosher bakery that I can’t recall, so I did have something to compare it to at least. It was baked and came fresh out of the oven, which was a bonus, and was thus soft and warm, and the soy ice cream was slowly melting over it when it was served. We all dug in and gave it a shot, and I managed to finish off the last bite.
The Maple Grill just opened in February this year, and I think it’s one of the first restaurants in Vancouver that is fully kosher. They also do catering for special events. The main issue for me was that the dishes were a bit hit and miss, and I really only would go back for a few of the items. However, the restaurant is quite new, and I’m sure it’ll adjust over time once it’s had the chance to work out all the kinks – the service itself was great though.
If you’re going to give it a try, please note that they will be closed for Passover, from Monday March 29th until Tuesday April 6th.