207 West Hastings St.
Open for Lunch & Dinner: Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to late
Signature Drink: Organic Sangria
Signature Dish: La Feast
Rating: ** 1/2
Dinner & drinks for two: $50
Lebanese cuisine is renowned for its simple, bold flavours. Lots of lamb, chicken, eggplant, aromatic spices and, of course, lentils, are all staples. It’s comfort food that is also—wonder of wonders—healthy. It’s also a great choice for vegetarians and vegans, thanks to the limited use of dairy products and large emphasis on grains, legumes and vegetables.
Nuba’s latest location on West Hastings (which is its first full-service and licensed venture) does place a heavy emphasis on organic, local produce and halal meats. For those unfamiliar with the concept of halal meat, this refers to animals that have been raised—and killed—in an ethical and humane manner. In many cases, it also means that the meat is free-range and unmedicated.
Unfortunately, Nuba also seems to be rather light-handed in the flavour department.
Our group of four ordered the special that night, an enormous platter of chicken, prawn and lamb skewers ($30), along with the vegetarian sampler platter ($26). Size was certainly not an issue. For four people, this was definitely enough food. The problem was that some items — like the baba ganoush — were so smoky as to suggest accidental burning. Other items — like the mushroom and sweet pepper ragout — were so bland and watery as to defy any flavour whatsoever. The meat platter was slightly, but not much, better. While the lamb and chicken were perfectly cooked and tender, the prawns were overdone and none of the proteins had the slightest hint of added flavour, despite the claims of “aromatic spices.” We were also peeved by the fact that the two platters didn’t arrive together. In fact, the vegetarian platter didn’t arrive until we were almost finished with the meat, despite the fact that we had asked to have the two simultaneously. Our request to substitute one item on the vegetarian platter also fell by the wayside.
Our server was very knowledgeable, friendly, and talked us into more drinks than we had originally intended, but we had to wait almost 15 minutes for her to first approach us and bring us menus to look at—this despite the half-empty room. Service picked up after first contact, but it again sloped off just about the time we were thinking of dessert and after a ridiculously long wait we just asked for the bill.
There is a large selection of vegan and vegetarian choices, which will always make this place a draw, especially with the disco-era prices ($5-$8 for appies, $12-$17 for mains). The drinks are also pretty good, although my organic sangria ($7) was a little heavy on the cinnamon. It’s definitely cheap, but I just wasn’t so cheerful.
The Organic Choice
Organic wine is experiencing not so much of a Renaissance as it is a revolution. Organic One Wines, located in Billabong Creek, Australia, was started back in the 60s, with a commitment to sustainable and bio-dynamic growing practices. Their 2007 Shiraz is a delicate, yet full-bodied quaff, with a nose of roses and violets perfectly balanced over a palate of stone fruit and berries. It comes a little tight out of the bottle, so let it breathe for a good thirty minutes before sipping. Suggested retail price is $23.00 at private wine stores.
Wine, Food and Massage?
On May 8, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., head to the BCLDB Signature Liquor Store (5555 Cambie St) for a special tasting of 10 South African wines, food from beyond restaurant & lounge, and complimentary spa treatments from Absolute Spa.
Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar (1138 Homer St) is now offering 40 per cent off all bottles of wine less than $100 every Monday night. Regular menu is available until 10 p.m., and the late night menu is available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call 604-915-9463 or visit www.brixvancouver.com.
West Restaurant (2881 Granville St) is celebrating spring with three chef’s tasting menus (all less than $100), as well as a $55 three-course menu that also includes an amuse bouche and petit fours. Call 604-738-8938 or visit www.westrestaurant.com.
Food in Brief
Cioppino’s Restaurant has once again won for Best Restaurant at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. La Quercia won for Best New Restaurant, Cobre won for Best in Americas and Bishop’s won for Best Regional. Bravo to all winners!