Salmon House on the Hill (September 24th, 2012)

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Hey guys, A here to get the ball rolling on this post. Nestled deep in the North Shore mountains is a bit of a gem..not hidden, but a gem nevertheless. As you probably suspected by now, we love our seafood, and this place rivals Blue Water Cafe in terms of the care they take into preparing their food. Of course, it’s different as BWC emphasizes their raw bar a lot more, as Salmon House on the Hill trumpets their alderwood grill (which I have to say permeates almost every single dish on the menu).

However, it’s not just the menu. Oh no. It’s the wine list, which is an extensive one at that. S and I have only been wine lovers for a little while now, but they know their vitis vinifera here. A wine list that requires its own dedicated book that is significantly thicker than the menu, and also one that must be requested via email, as it is not available on the website. But fear not, if you’re a relative wine novice like us, as the staff are VERY helpful and will explain whatever you need to be explained. But by now I’m sure I’m rambling and you want to see what we ate! So here they are:

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Complimentary bread, three ways; with butter, and white bean purée infused with lemon zest and drizzled with olive oil

The three kinds of bread were: regular white, sundried tomato, and cheese bread. I really appreciated the white bean purée as it was imaginative, and didn’t overpower the bread. It was refreshing with a hint of lemon, and balanced all three kinds of bread well. Other than that, pretty solid for some munchies while we wait. - B

The white bean purée was a clever play on humous; for those who dislike garlic yet want the texture of humous, this would be an ideal spread for you. The lemon zest worked well with it. As for the bread, it was the typical run of the mill type stuff; probably because both A and I were hungry by then, we each wolfed down several pieces. It also came with salted whipped butter, which always works with nice warm bread. Note: ratings may be artificially inflated for this bread as we were hungry, but I really enjoyed the white bean purée – B+

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Alder-grilled Tostadas and Dungeness Crab with cilantro, mango salsa and roasted garlic aioli ($13.50)

Normally I wouldn’t associate tacos with “fine dining”…and in all honesty, the ingredients were rather ordinary in this dish, but it was the way they were harmonized which made this special. The creamy sweetness of the mango, with the chimmichurri character of the aioli playfully interacting with the herbal notes from the cilantro. Not listed in the menu was some alfafa which gave some bitterness which rounded out the flavours. It wasn’t in-your-face Mexican, but a great West Coast twist. - A

OMG. SO GOOD. This was my favourite part of the entire night. For those of you who know about my crab nightmare last night, A ordered this as an appie for us to share sort of coyly; I personally had no say in what we ordered hahah. In any case, I was thoroughly impressed with this dish. There was a large chunk of crab (both shredded and right from the claw) tossed in creamy avocado and mango salsa with chimmichurri sauce on the side. SO GOOD ASLDFJASLDFKJ. I was going to give this dish an A+ before I found a few pieces of shell in my tostada. Flavourwise, A+ , but for a restaurant this calibre, it would be nice if they took more time removing the shells; so my rating goes down to an – A

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Smoked Salmon Wrapped Haida Gwaii Halibut with artichoke and lobster butter sauce ($34) – A-

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Paired with: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2010, Coastal California – A

Well, well. The only oaked Chardonnay on the list which is served by the glass just so happens to go well with the two mains on the Salmon House menu I have tried (halibut and the sablefish). Buttery, oaky, and reminiscent of popcorn and…well, butter! As for the fish, apart from lobster butter sauce, there was a bit of lobster meat included on the side, and I have to say that halibut, which is normally a very meaty fish, balanced well with the smooth creamy buttery sauce. I have to say that I prefer the sablefish (I’m a sucker for buttery textures), and this particular wine was a match made in heaven for it. However, the halibut is no slouch. It was a solidly cooked fillet, and the accompanying vegetables rounded out this course quite well.

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Seared Coriander Crusted Ahi Tuna with potato, berry salsa and orange vinaigrette ($32)

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Paired with: Silk Scarf Riesling-Muscat blend (S’s wine)

As you know, I simply adore seared Ahi Tuna, so when I saw this on the menu, it was a winner already. When it came, I was surprised at how thinly cut it was. It was a large portion of fish; however, it was extremely thin. It came with mixed autumn vegetables like squash, bell peppers, beans, and zukini as well as roasted potato. Though impressive that such a thin piece of fish was not cooked all the way through, it was still much less rare than I prefer it. The crusted coriander didn’t taste very unique and it just felt like I was eating a tuna version of a black pepper steak. All in all, I was not very impressed with the cooking of this fish; however, the berry salsa on top was delicious. I just wished there was more of it to counteract the saltiness of the fish. The potatoes were roasted to perfection and helped balance out the fish once again. The accompaniments were much better than the main attraction, and for that reason, I will give this dish a B-

The Silk Scarf Riesling, upon first swirl and sniff, brought a whirlwind of flavour to my gustatory system. With hints of apple, peach, and apricot, I was really looking forward to this wine. To my dismay, the taste of it resembled that of any table wine and was not anything special. It wasn’t a horrible wine, it just wasn’t all that great – B-

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Warm lava dark chocolate cake with banana ice cream ($9.50) – A

Again, a caveat with me, being a person who doesn’t get to enjoy dessert at many restaurants (peanut allergy, curse you!), is that I don’t have a lot of sweet stuff to compare this to… but damn, this was good. Molten white chocolate inside, raspberry drizzle to balance out the taste, banana ice cream to neutralize the overwhelming chocolate (which was incredible), and a bit of colour from… I don’t know what those are, but they were aesthetically pleasing, regardless.

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Espresso Gelato Sandwich ($9.50)

Presentation, presentation, presentation! If anything, Salmon House had the best presentation of any restaurant I have ever been to. My espresso gelato sandwich comprised of espresso gelato sandwiched between two chocolate cookies with a beautifully crafted dark chocolate flower on top. On the other side (unfortunately hidden from the picture) was a layer of thin white chocolate draping over the cookies and the gelato. To the side are bunches of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and gooseberries. The flavour of the gelato was strong and impactful. Alternating the chocolate cookie with the gelato and the sourness of the berries, it brought the perfect blend of tart and sweet to my palate. It was a delicious dessert; the flavours aren’t that extraordinarily unique, however, they were impactful and worked well. Pretty hard to mess up this dessert. – A-

This was quite a memorable meal, and while it wasn’t a tasting menu and a whirlwind of flavours, it was a collection of good plates and a wine list that will suit every taste and preference. We will definitely be back again, and who knows, it may pop up in a future post! ;) With that, here are a couple more shots of the interior!

All in all, though I was disappointed by my entree, everything else was delicious and the presentation will definitely have me coming back for more. The view from the restaurant is also spectacular. If you decide to give Salmon House a try, you will not be disappointed and TRY THE TOSTADAS! Well, its back to calculus for me…THANK YOU MOMMY AND DADDY MAH! :)

- Love, S

Oh yeah guys, don’t forget to click the Urbanspoon link on the bottom of this post to see what our fellow food bloggers have to say about this amazing place! You help us get our blog out and we help you find great places for that special occassion. Quite symbiotic, nah?

- Cheers, A

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Here are some of the dishes my folks had. Of course they were delicious, they wouldn’t share ;).

From left to right (first row, then second): Fresh shrimp (3 for $9); Alderwood-cooked sablefish ($32); Seafood trio ($31); Crème Brulée ($9.50)

I could get used to this view…

Salmon House on the Hill on Urbanspoon

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