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claudia kwan/for metro vancouver
1032 Alberni (and Burrard)
Dinner for one, including tax, tip, and a martini: $64.70
*** 1/2 (out of 5)
When I first heard the restaurant’s name, I automatically thought of Bambi being enticed out of the forest to the dangers of the open field where predators might pounce. Human cougars and silver foxes once posed the most danger here, but that crowd has mostly moved on to other hunting grounds, leaving Saltlik to folks who want an alternative to The Keg.
Think upscale cabin in the woods, with expresso panelling, river stone on the walls, and a fabulous chandelier. The enormous plaster deer head with antlers is too obviously kitschy, and doesn’t ring true with a location on one of downtown Vancouver’s most luxurious streets.
We show up early on a quiet Saturday night for a going-away party on one of the upper loft levels, and with a menu that obviously focuses on meat and potatoes, ordering doesn’t take long.
Despite the wall of wine and liquor bottles, the beverage list is similarly uncomplicated, and I quickly settle on a delicious blueberry Cosmopolitan — so nice to get my anti-oxidants along with my alcohol.
The generously-portioned blue crab and shrimp cake is served chilled, and perhaps that’s the reason why I find it bland — the task of adding flavour is left up to the accompanying smoked paprika remoulade, which isn’t up to the job. I’m told this dish has now been revamped into two smaller crab cakes with a different sauce, and indeed, an updated menu features more variety.
My ribeye steak is properly rare, but it also tastes like it’s been fried. The texture isn’t unpleasant, but it is unexpected, and I don’t really taste the citrus and rosemary that’s supposed to be in the butter sauce. Even though I share my crisp and golden skinny fries with everyone else, I’m too full to have dessert.
Our server does a great job keeping up with all of us, and she clearly deserves more than the automatic 15 per cent gratuity added to the bill. Service throughout is top notch.
Saltlik seems popular with the business lunch crowd and prices are comparable with other casual fine dining chains, but this Alberta import still seems like it’s trying to find its footing in this town.