Anna Lena – Spot Prawn Dinner

Last night we had dinner at Anna Lena.  The restaurant was offering its limited time spot prawn tasting menu.  B.C. spot prawns are available for 6-8 weeks in a year starting in May.

As always, the place did not disappoint.

Here was the menu:

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The meal started with an amuse – shrimp cracker with buttermilk cheese and tobiko on top.  The cracker packed a lot of umami and the cheese topping added nice acidity then tobiko provided great texture.  A perfect bite.  I could of ate just these all night.

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The second course was a ceviche.  The shrimp were sweet and fresh, and the tomato broth provided just the right amount of acidity.  The fried avocado was a nice touch, and added some texture after each bite.

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The third dish was a bisque.  The bisque was served in a beer bottle which you then pour into the bowl. The flavors were good and the broth had a lot of flavor, but I felt that the acidity and seasoning overpowered the shrimp flavor a bit, but just a bit.

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Next was a tie for my favorite dish of the evening, the pasta with spot prawns, tarragon powder, lardo, and pickled fennel.  The pasta was perfectly cooked.  The shrimp in this dish were the sweetest of the night.  The tarragon added a nice dimension of flavor, and the fennel provided good acidity to cut the richness from the pasta and lardo.  Fantastic dish.

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The main course was a “surf and turf” featuring pork cheek with a sauce that I do not know what it was; both were good.  Of course there were more spot prawns.  A cauliflower puree was provided.  The only thing I did not like on this dish was the gnudi “dumpling/ricotta”.  It was too dense for me.

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As if all these savory dishes weren’t enough, the last course was truly special.  The server brought out two, charcoal grilled spot prawns, presented in a wooden box.  Accompanying this dish, was sea salt (not needed), prawn butter, and bread.  This was no ordinary bread. This is bread the restaurant is known for making and is absolutely delicious.  It has a perfect crunchy crust, very soft interior, and is perfectly seasoned.

Dipping the bread into the prawn butter was heaven.  The prawn itself was outstanding.  The flavor from sucking the head, and then biting into the charcoal flavored, seasoned body was just fantastic. A++

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For dessert, there was an ice cream with blueberry foam and some shell shaped jellies.  The dessert was very good also, with nice subtle flavors, nothing too sweet.

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The meal ended with petits fours AND THEN, we were given a boxed apple strudel to take home.  The service was perfect.  Friendly, every dish well described, engaging if you wanted it, and timely.  The only flaw I see in this place is that even with a reservation, the table is not ready at the stated time.  I believe this is due to it being a small restaurant, but the food more than makes up for it.  9.999/10

 

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