For C’s birthday, I organized a birthday dinner and some drinks afterward. A group of 13 of us went to Guu at Gastown for dinner. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY!
After dinner, 2 girls, myself and C took a slow stroll to Salt Tasting Room. We were unfamiliar with the Blood Alley area. It sure didn’t help that it was dark and drizzling. We missed a few turns and walked by some very questionable areas. When we were in the Blood Alley area, another girl and I were starting to freak out because of all the interesting characters and policemen we saw. After the scary stroll, we were very glad to have found the place. (C: It was only kiiiiinda sketch! I love the atmosphere around the area at night though!)
There isn’t a big sign in front of the restaurant. At night, it is very easy to miss I think. Inside it is a very well-lit and compact place. The place is essentially divided into 3 sections: the communal table, small booths and bar area. The communal table seats around 20 ppl. The 4 booths seat roughly a couple per booth. The bar area can accommodate 8 people. As you can see, it is not a very big place! It is probably better for dates, or a small group gathering. Not as ideal for big group parties. (C: We took up most of the communal table space. Better to go with smaller groups, as we had to wait for everyone to finish up their meals at the communal table before we could all sit down).
Knowing that it was Friday night and close to Christmas, I made reservation for 10 ppl for 9:45pm. We arrived 10 min prior to that reservation and were asked to go to the bar while 1 group of ppl at the communal table were leaving. We were given water and menu upon seated and the presumably manager was so courteous and welcoming. He explained the menu and answered questions about selection of wine.
I wanted to try bubbly and he helped me narrow down to a sweeter tasting one. C decided to get a flight of wine to try. He helped C to narrow down the 3 to try based on C’s preference from C’s answers.
(C: I’m not much of a wine connoisseur, so I’m glad that they have someone there to select the wines for us. I liked their choice, and I think my preference is more along the lines of medium-bodied whites and slightly aromatic dry reds. The Zuccardi Malbec was my favourite of the night, and the Saint Cosme White Rhone was also quite good!)
By 10, everybody from the party was there…that was 10 people in total crowding over the 4 seats that we had. It wasn’t the restaurant’s fault that the party of 4 isn’t showing sign of leaving the table yet. The waitress dropped off more menu asking if they needed anything else and even put down the bill. It was not until 10:20 we were able to have everybody seated. It was a little imperfection of an otherwise great night.
After the whole party was seated, our waitress was very knowledgeable and patient with our questions regarding wine. I was quite full from dinner but managed to ask our friend, (Healthy Eater) to share a tasting plate ($16) with me.
Building the tasting plate is the fun part! You get to pick a total of 3 items from the cheese and meat sections on the chalk board menu on the wall. For each item, you also pick a condiment to go with it! From Yelp, I read that the staff is so knowledgeable it is best to let them pick for you based on the wine you are having. Since Healthy Eater and I both do not like goat cheese, olive and blue cheese, we just let our waitress know and she picked everything out for us based on the wine Healthy Eater ordered.
We opted for 2 cheese and 1 meat because we were both full from dinner. We got Con Aglio with peach chutney, Ricciolo al Tartufo with cranberry compote and Beemster with Similkameen Honey.
Con Aglio…it tasted exactly like salami…someone pls correct me if I am wrong. The saltiness of it paired so well with the sweet peach chutney. Ricciolo al Tartufo is a soft, creamy, cow milk cheese infused with truffle oil. On its own, it is so tasty with that hint of trufle oil. I paired it with the cranberry compote, the only thing I tasted was ginger. I then realized it was a cranberry, GINGER, orange compote. I don’t think it is a good condiment since the ginger overwhelmed your taste buds. My favourite pairing of that night was the Beemster with honey! Beemster is a firm, cow milk cheese. It reminds me of cheddar cheese but less sharp with more of a subtle taste? Don’t quote me on this, not a cheese master here, just what I taste/like. I never had cheese with honey before…It was delightful! I got to try this again! With so many items, we ran out of bread but when asked, another basket was brought to us! YAY!
After C saw our plate, he couldn’t resist and got the Daily Plate to share with another friend. His plate consisted of Rustico Pecorino with Mostarda, Sau Jorge with piparus peppers, and Ricciolo al Tartufo with peach chutney. I was so focused on my plate, I didn’t try much of his. From general census, seems the mostarda (mustard) and the piparus peppers weren’t a very good hit.
(C: Really nice tasting plate! It’s so cool to try each little tasting dish and then taste the wines that we had. I certainly enjoyed the peppers, but it was not for everyone. It would have been even better if we ordered the wine flight along with the cheese or daily plate at the same time so they could have paired it for us!)
(C: Our friend, AS also ordered a wine flight!)
(C: The order is a bit messed up in the photo (the Marsonne is a white), but I think it was the Henry Fessy that I quite enjoyed of the three).
Overall, it was very fun to have some wine, relax, catch up and something to nibble on. It sparked an interest to everyone that night about wine and cheese. It inspired us to do wine and cheese night on our own for a fraction of the price. (C: Which we haven’t quite gotten around to yet, but we will soon!)
The service was good and staff knowledgeable. In a sea of many choice of wine and cheese, it was nice to have someone hold our hands and guid us through. It definitely is a good place for date and small group for catching up. Will definitely return but beware of your safety at night ladies!