In the past on this blog, I have mentioned my disdain for Lazia (10200 102 Avenue). However, after being wowed earlier this year at their newest outpost, the Wildflower Grill, I was in the right frame of mind to give Lazia another try, especially after seeing that their downtown location had been completely remodelled, from the interior to the menu. I had trust that Chef Yoshi Chubachi could spread some of that Wildflower magic to the rest of Lazia’s holdings.
Prior to a show at the nearby Citadel Theatre, Mack and I headed to the restaurant with with expectations in check. We were greeted by a hostess, and immediately taken past the lounge, into the dining room, and offered a choice seat in a rounded banquet. Plush and large enough to easily accommodate a party of five, we enjoyed the semblance of privacy our table provided us.
The decor in the dining area hadn’t changed as much as in the lounge. I was happy to see that the blown-glass sculpture had been saved through the renovation, but besides some minor furniture adjustments, the core of the dining room seemed to have remained the same (granted, my image of the restaurant is several years old). The lounge, however, was now sleek and sophisticated, with the back wall a popping orange shade, a bar with ample seating situated in the centre, and a small glass area in the front lined with couches – perfect for a girls night out.
I was most excited about the potential of the new menu. While it did look a lot better on the outset than what I remembered, it was a bit scattered (though to be fair, most mid-range restaurants Lazia is trying to compete with have the same problem). I did really like the fact that there were two streams of desserts to choose from – a range of $8 regular desserts and a set of $5 plates to satisfy those just looking for something small.
I ended up ordering the roasted butternut squash Ravioli ($23) in a white truffle rosé sauce, while Mack opted for the Colossal Prawns ($25), served with a laundry list of accompaniments, including a panko crusted crab cake, cooked shrimp ceviche, miso soya sugar snap peas, basmati rice, sweet
pineapple curry and tomato & corn confit.
Service was great throughout, much improving my outlook on Lazia. Our food was also delivered quite promptly, with a flare for plate presentation – our dishes were treated like pieces of art, the white plates an empty canvas for visual design. The portion sizes, however, left much to be desired – though Mack enjoyed his meal, he could have easily consumed two of the same. My pasta was too sweet all around, between the filling, the sauce, and the accent vegetables – I found no delicate interplay between flavours (as with Rob Feenie’s masterful interpretation at Cactus Club Bentall 5).
Overall, we found the Lazia dining room to be a local, but pricier version of the upscale casual brand purported by the Earls and Joeys of the world. We’d be back to try the desserts, but probably after a cheaper meal elsewhere.
I was back at Lazia sooner than I had expected – a two days after my meal with Mack, a few girlfriends and met up for a bite to eat in the lounge. I now have a better appreciation for the reason why food reviewers at major newspapers visit restaurants multiple times to sample dishes off all parts of the menu – I was ready to give Lazia a thumbs up after our dinner, but following our lounge experience, I’d include a small asterisk on that recommendation.
While the lounge was busy, it wasn’t as packed as we thought it would be on a Friday evening. Though it was clear that our party was still waiting for one more, none of the waitresses thought to check on us to see if we wanted to order anyway – a clear twenty minutes passed before we were acknowledged by any of the staff members after sitting down.
Eventually, we were asked to order. The small plates ranged from $6-12, the dishes influenced by the same haphazard “world cuisine” philosophy that dominated the entree side of the menu. I ended up choosing the Ginger Beef ($9), Janice and May the Garlic Prawns ($12), and Annie the Patatas Bravas ($6), or Spanish home fries, because the kitchen had run out of sweet potato fries.
The kitchen was thankfully more together than their floor counterparts, and our dishes were delivered in good time. Based on our sampling, we weren’t too impressed with the appetizers – my ginger beef was barely above the standard served at Beijing Beijing, while Janice couldn’t taste any garlic in her prawns. Annie’s dish sounded great on the outset, but really, the home fries were really a fancy name for potato wedges.
Garlic Prawns (served with smoked tomato bruchetta)
Patatas Bravas (served with a really well-executed red onion watermelon salad)
Also worth mentioning was an out-of-place employee who, while well-intentioned, put us off. She came by our table twice, leaned her elbows on the table, and almost seemed like she was going to pull up a chair to join our group. She asked about the occasion of our get-together, and about how we felt about our food thus far. We didn’t hesitate to answer her questions, but the way in which she asked seemed awkward and forced – an attempt at connecting with customers that failed.
And so, the asterisk – the lounge, with a vibe for those to see and be seen (similar to Hundred), is chic for an after-work drink, but for food, choose the mains over the appetizers.
10200 102 Avenue (one other location)
Sunday, Monday and holidays 11am-10pm, Tuesday to Saturday 11am-midnight
Appetizers $6-12, Entrees $9-43, Desserts $5-8