Mission gets some good eats and a whole lotta wine

I’m glad we made reservations for the Friday night we visited Vin Room in Mission. The joint was jumping and to our dismay crawling with a slightly pretentious set. Just to give you an idea of what I mean one woman had a fit at the door when she thought her table was going to be given to two Japanese women who didn’t speak English.

Seated at our tiny table my boyfriend was initially put off by the tight space and snooty crowd. I wanted to know if the buzz that’s surrounded Vin Room over the past couple of months is warranted. Fortunately it is. Formerly Mission Cycle the space has been completely renovated and now houses three floors with designer touches including chocolate banquettes and contemporary woodwork. Gas fireplaces provide warmth and atmosphere. Vin Room offers tasty tapas and a wine menu worth exploring — featuring over 60 wines available as two-ounce tasters six-ounce glasses or 13-ounce servings plus a staggering 180 selections by the bottle.

In order to keep the wines fresh and free from oxidization Vin Room has installed eight Enomatic wine dispensers. These nifty temperature-controlled devices pump argon gas into the bottles as wine is dispensed keeping an opened bottle fresh for nearly two months. Patrons can keep track of their wine consumption by opting to join Vin Room’s Vin Club. This online club allows members to keep track of what they have sampled and where it can be purchased.

Sipping on a fragrant taster of Alta Vista Torrontes ($2.50) we began our food tasting with the lobster salad ($19) — a decadent dish featuring baby potatoes crisp pancetta mixed greens and a generous serving of warm lobster. We loved it. The lobster was rich and buttery and the portion size was ideal for sharing.

Along with the salad we tried the eggplant chips ($9) a unique appetizer consisting of panko-battered eggplant medallions served with two savoury dips. The pine nut aioli was creamy and crunchy featuring whole pine nuts while the roasted tomato chutney was scrumptious with a tangy spicy finish.

Our third dish was the braised short rib ravioli with Boursin cheese and double-smoked bacon ($17). Nestled in a shallow broth the five ravioli looked wonderful but we weren’t overly thrilled with the final product. The broth was lifeless and the ravioli lacked personality.

We also sampled the seared scallops ($19) served with a crab-and-leek fondue (essentially scallops atop a cream sauce). The scallops were nicely prepared — slightly browned and tender but overall the dish fell flat.

Vin Room co-owner Phoebe Fung ensured we were having a good time throughout our visit. As she brought out our dessert she introduced herself and chatted with us about the vision for the food and wine menus. Patrons can expect frequent change with new dishes and wine selections arriving on a monthly basis.

Topping off our night we had the chocolate tart ($7). It was amazing — I’m embarrassed to admit that we barely took a breath while eating it. Served with a caramel coffee sauce and fresh raspberries Fung says the recipe also incorporates Arrowroot cookies. It was magical.

If you’re not otherwise engaged this Valentine’s Day why not make a reservation and sample Vin Room’s feature menu. And no need to fret — once you’re seated it’s easy to ignore the riff-raff.

Vin Room 2310 Fourth St. S.W. 403-457-5522.

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