West Restaurant and Bar
225 7th Avenue SW
It was my friend Ali's birthday two weeks ago. He finally decided to have his birthday dinner this weekend. The location of the gathering? West Restaurant and Bar on the second floor of the Scotia Centre downtown (Between the Bay and TD). I was pretty excited when he finally announced (literally) the location of the venue. I had never been to West before and from looking at the menu online, it seemed like a decent choice.
I arrived at the prescribed time (at 7:00) and well before the "birthday" boy. I should have known better. I believe Ali showed up to his own party last year half an hour late. We had a private section on the secon... errr... third floor for the dinner portion. People slowly trickled in as the night progressed. To keep us entertained, Ali ordered some delicious appetizers for everyone to share; Baby calamari and tempura prawns. It's a good thing I wasn't allergic to seafood. That would have sucked some major balls. Both of these were really good. Super crispy. And they were devoured within seconds. Service was also exceptional... It was looking like a solid 8 or 9 star review but then it went downhill from there.
Better haul ass because this train wreck is coming down hard.
I finally ordered some actual dinner food when my good friends Steve and Alana arrived. Fashionably late (They were apparently installing a new toilet. Excuses). I had the crab cake mac 'n' cheese. My dish arrived some time later (I wasn't really paying attention but it didn't seem too long). Like most fancy restaurants, the portions were pretty small. The pasta was smothered with a boursin white cheddar sauce and bacon bits and finished off with a small bunch of watercress and a single crab cake on top. I made crab cake once, it was at a course with the Cookbook Co. They didn't turn out very good (Due to lack of skill). This was far superior to my attempt. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I will assume the crab meat was relatively fresh (fresh enough) as it didn't have that not fresh taste. You know the one. The mac 'n' cheese? Not so much. It had a slight sour cheesy taste. Didn't think it was very good. Small portion. I could have eaten another crab cake or 10. I licked the plate clean in less than 5 minutes. Big plate though. This was apparently the signature dish. O_o
Steve had the mushroom provolone burger which he said was disappointing. Plastic looking bun sandwiched basic ingredients for $15. Alana went with the west coast halibut which was also disappointing. A dinky filet with some stuff plastered on top. For a place that markets themselves with "exceptional food", it was a pretty pathetic attempt. So pretentious.
Before we continue further, lets note some upside at West. Appetizers - Good. Decor? Beautiful decor. Maybe they should have used the same budget on their menu. I was also really impressed with our server. She actually remembered my name at the end of the night considering I had forgot hers 5 minutes after she introduced herself. I'm pretty certain it was not my charming personality.
Later in the night, the restaurant turns into a bar. Despite having to stand in two lines to get in, there was a million people there, I felt like a sardine in a can. TWO lines. One to get into the mall. And then another to get into the bar. Like how disappointing is that? They let you in from outside, you ride up the creaky escalator to the second floor thinking "Lets get this party started!" only to find another line. Such a buzz kill. Not that I had to wait in line, since I was there at 7.
There's a really ambiguous dress code. No hats, no sneakers, business casual attire. Except you can wear jeans. And really, whatever you want because I got in with jeans and a t-shirt. Cause that's how I roll (It probably had to do with the fact that I rolled in at 7). This no hat rule is pretty lame though because they selectively enforce it. My friend Harley who arrived later in the evening got two warnings for wearing his hat and yet, two tables down, some guy is wearing a cowboy hat. All night. Did you not see that when you walked by? It's massive. As the douche who dished out the warning talked to my friend, another guy walked by with a baseball cap. Like really? Don't be lame.
I think it's a case of an identity crisis at West. It doesn't really know what it wants to be. It's trying to be up scale, high end, yet casual and laid back. Very contradictory. Is it a bar or is a restaurant? It's both and it doesn't do either of them well.
And seriously what is up with the creeper cam at the dance floor? See below (minor edit). That is so effed up. When you watch the people partying it up on stage on the TV, it looks super lame.
|Look Ma! I'm on TV!|
Oh and special belated birthday shout out to my friend Ali! Interesting venue. Definitely a step down from Niko's Bistro from last year though.