Wow, You’ve Got Something There! – Cinara

Flavours that were strong,
Complementary in small
Parts at Cinara.
We shut off our computer, got ready, and as a company happily strolled up the street to Cinara, our latest destination for our staff dinner.
After being listed as one of the better new restaurants in 2014 by both Alex Gill and Mia Stainsby, I was excited to finally try Cinara.
It’s a small cozy restaurant with a concise menu that consistently changes.  As a group we opted to try their tasting menu.

The first course was simple: Speck, butter & bread.  Speck essentially is smoked prosciutto and it’s wonderful.  The cured ham has a firmer texture than prosciutto in some parts.  It was a nice smoky, salty and savoury way to start off our multi-course tasting menu.
The next dish was a fail for me but was a hit with my co-workers.  I’m allergic to asparagus so my second course had to be re-jigged.  As my colleagues enter foodie nirvana with their asparagus dish, I was left to dine on an average beet and feta cheese salad. 


It was boring, plain and paled in comparison to the raves my dining companions were lauding their course.  Food allergies suck.


The next course arrived in a dainty dual handled porcelain bowl.  Inside, the most intense, umami rich and delicious cioppino featuring local clams, branzino and spot prawn.  It was good to the last drop and I wish there was more of it.


The next course mainly comprised of English peas, fingerling potatoes, salted cod and herbs.  It was a simple dish but complex at the same time.  Each component added its distinct flavour and texture to the bite, with no one flavour too overwhelming. 


Next was the pasta course consisting of kale and veal stuffed pasta tossed in a simple sauce.  The dish’s plain appearance hides the fact the stuffing had great depth of flavour.  The pasta was perfectly al dente.


The next offering was lamb on polenta paired with cipollini onions and balsamic reduction.  The polenta was soft and creamy.  The lamb was moist and tender.  The tart balsamic reduction helped keep things from being too heavy.


The cheese course with an incredible thin slice of de-hydrated bread arrived.  The blue cheese was the standout.  It was rich and creamy and so wonderful I completely forget to take notes on the other serving of cheese, which was lighter and sweeter.


To clean our palates in preparation for dessert, a stewed rhubarb sorbet with pistachio, yogurt and citrus marmalade arrive. The cold, sweet and citrus flavours of this offering was nice and refreshing – perfect after the heavy cheese course.


The final course was a chocolate ice cream on top of an almond meringue.   The meringue was crumbly and had a great nutty flavour that matched the ice cream well. 
The dishes in the tasting menu came in small portions.  For myself and few other co-workers, the meal was enough for a filling and satisfying dinner.  However for my boss and those with larger appetites the food may not be enough. 
The plates might have been simple and tiny but the flavours doled out by the Cinara kitchen are big yet balanced.   I found each course to be interesting and very enjoyable, minus my substitute beet salad. 
The tasting menu was a great way to understand what Cinara is about.  After my experience, I am eager to return to try their a la carte menu.
350 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC
604 428 9694
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