Monday, March 21, 2005

25/$25: Lunch at Vivanda

I had lunch here on Sunday with Alyssum, Mathias, and Stephanie. Who can beat having a good 3-course meal for $12.50? Sure the portions may be a little smaller than dinner, but I definitely didn't leave hungry.

The service was good, and the place was busy but relaxed and not noisy. They served yummy Italian bread and olive oil infused with herbs and garlic. I chose the roasted eggplant and tomato terrine to start, grilled salmon with lentils for my main course, and lemon meringue for dessert. Alyssum chose a salad (they had to veggie-ify the Cesar salad), potato gnocchi and lemon meringue.

The terrine was OK, but had almost no gelatin/aspic holding the veggies together, so it was falling apart before I touched it, and may as well have been a pile of roasted veggies. The flavour of the eggplant and tomatoes was good, and the curry-flavoured oil drizzled around the plate was amazing.

The salmon was good, but lacked salt and was not helped by the lentils that were bland too. (They were supposedly "marinated", but obviously not in anything tasty!) The salmon was topped with cucumber and yoghurt (sort of like a fancy tzatziki) and this helped lift the dish - I need to try doing salmon with a tzatziki sauce myself, since the combination seems to work well. Roasted tomatoes on the side were a nice accompaniment, and were well caramelized.

The lemon meringue pie was good - not too sweet, and with a crunchy pastry shell. Great espresso, too - they use Lavazza. I tasted Alyssum's gnocchi, and thought it was good - light, not doughy, but a little bland, and the sauce could have used some kick. Alyssum found the gnocchi a little too soft (she prefers them more al-dente / chewy. So far, Firenze in the Crossroads mall, is the gnocchi king.)

Wine-wise, I had a glass of the Apex Outlook 2003 Chardonnay - I loved the 1999 vintage and had brought that to the Friday wine tasting I "hosted" a few weeks back. Sadly, the '03 vintage is not nearly as good as the '99 - it is not as full-bodied, smooth and buttery, and lacked the amazing aroma of the '99. It was still a decent chardonnay, but nothing special.

Overall, I'd give them 80%, and would definitely recommend coming here for the $12.50 lunch or $25 dinner during the 25/$25 promotion. It would definitely recommend them for a meal off their regular menu too.

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