I was on the last of the many gift certificates I won from a Yelp Elite fundraiser party. I saved the grand finale – a wine and food pairing for four at Belgo – for a Friday night with Kesley, her boyfriend Dave, and L.
When I looked up Belgo on Urbanspoon, I was surprised by the low rating. I’ve walked past the restaurant at lunch, and it always appeared busy. In any case, I went in with an open mind. Considering this was a free chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings for four, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. After our positive dining experience, I thanked the marketing manager, Katie Bond, and complimented the chef. She informed me that the current executive chef, Andrew Gass, joined the team two months ago.
Belgo is a nice looking restaurant – outfitted with high ceilings and dark wood furnishes. We sat near the back of the restaurant in a private room. I dig the large wine wall. So much in fact, I was tempted to climb the ladder for some pre dinner exercise. Fearing I’d get booted out before I got the chance to eat, I restrained myself.
The Chef’s Tasting menu included: Campari Oyster; Watermelon Beet Salad; Seared Scallop; Steelhead Trout; Braised; Beef Short Rib and Creme Brulee. Each course was paired with a selected wine, and in the case of dessert, beer. Scott Adamson, the manager at Belgo, was our host for the night.
First up was the oyster with marinated tobiko and a celery leaf. I found the celery flavour in the oyster a tad bitter and the oyster itself too small to taste it. However, the sparkling organic wine was lovely. I noticed that all the stemware used throughout the dinner is Riedel.
The second course was a salad with sweet yellow beets, mandarin orange slices, compressed watermelon, chevre, crisp arugula, and pistachios. With the lemon vinaigrette, we all enjoyed this light, fruity salad. Scott paired the salad with a rosé (Hillside Okanagan, Naramata Bench 2012), which he described as a fresh and slightly sweet wine. The rosé is a blend of four different grapes: merlot; syrah; and two other “secret” varieties.
The third course was Butter Basted Seared Sea Scallops with beluga lentils and cauliflower puree. This was one of our favourite dishes – you could smell how good this dish was when it hit the table. The scallops were tender and not fishy. I enjoyed the lentils, which were firm with a bit of a chew. The cauliflower puree was smooth and sweet. The scallops was paired with a California viognier (Simpson Vineyard Miner 2011), which our host described as having mineral notes. I had to look this wine term up, and to tell you the truth, I still don’t understand how this description translates into a taste I can communicate into words. Oh well, at least I get the meaning of alcohol percentage.
The fourth course was Beef Short Rib with fig, mashed potatoes and green beans. The braised beef was tender and flavourful. The beef was paired with my favourite wine of the night – a Tuscany red (Bran Caia 2010 Rosso). Scott described it as a full bodied wine that pairs well with rich meats.
My favourite dish of the night was Steelhead Trout with Lobster Dill Potato Salad and Roasted Tomato. The trout was so good that I couldn’t help but also consume the crispy skin. I love fish that this moist almost buttery flesh. The potato salad was cool, with nice chunks of lobster claw and dill. Scott paired the fish with a pinot noir (Bliss), which he described as a juicy wine that was light enough to pair with fish.
I’m not a dessert person, so I was surprised to find myself eating every last bit of the creme brulee. What I really liked about this dessert was that it wasn’t just a creme brulee. Rather, there were layers of sponge cake, creamy custard, strawberry coulis and a chocolate shell that reminded me of Dairy Queen. The host paired the creme brulee with a strawberry wheat beer, Fruli.
Many thanks to Scott, Chef Andrew Gass, and Katie for donating the Chef’s Tasting Menu and wine pairings for Yelp’s fundraiser. It was a leisurely paced, fun filled night with yummy courses and wine pairings.