Summer Feast is almost over, guys! You still have Saturday and Sunday to get down to one of these 13 amazing restaurants for a prix fixe menu of up to $35 per person. You deserve it!
Model Milk’s space has a really fun, almost industrial vibe. The skylights in the high ceilings bathe the main dining room in light and the long benches and tables make it feel like a fantastic place to bring a group. That seems to be the idea here anyways, since they promote a family-style dining experience (especially with their Sunday Supper ($40/person) each week).
For $35 each, we were asked to choose between a squash tostada and calamari fricassee for our starter, cod or tri-tip steak for the entrée. Apple pie was the only dessert choice, which honestly made me breathe a sigh of relief. Deciding between all these incredible-sounding dishes gets exhausting. (Talk about a first world problem. I’m horrible.)
They all sounded delicious, so Matt and I opted to share one of each starter and main. We enjoyed our cocktails while we waited.
Matt had the Catch & Release ($15), a bourbon-based cocktail with a sweet and sour twist. It settled quickly between sips, so he’d get a very sweet, almost caramelly taste, then the next would be quite sour, followed by a bitter one later. I tried it myself and while it wasn’t bad, I see why he’ll be asking for an Old Fashioned next time!
My drink, the Greenback ($15), was very sweet and refreshing. It was a gin-based cocktail with cucumber, wine, honey and sparkling wine. No complaints here!
Then our appetizers came out and my mouth immediately started watering.
The squash tostada came out with their green goddess dressing, which we were told is based on a fermented zucchini purée. There were so many green, crisp, fresh flavours in this dish. The tostada, while hard to cut, really added a tasty crunch. The fresh dill packed a powerful punch and I would never have thought to add it to a dish with fresh cilantro!
The calamari fricassée was incredible. (Fricassée is a fancy French word for when meat is seared, then braised/stewed and served in a creamy sauce. Um, sold.) The sauce was creamy, spicy and spiked with Korean chilies as well as some edamame and chives for added freshness. There were also little bits of crisp guanciale (smoky pork cheek) and crunchy crouton in the mix. I’ll be suggesting this healthy(ish – come on, it isn’t deep fried!) calamari as a high-protein alternative to pasta for some of my carb-avoiding friends.
The Pine Haven tri-tip steak was very tasty, but it was difficult to cut and flopped a bit on the plate. The purée had a fresh, spring pea flavour, but it was almost too bright to complement the steak. There were brassicas on the plate as well, but nothing that stood out too much for me. A terrific piece of meat, but not our favourite course of the evening.
The line caught cod was incredibly delicious and perfectly cooked. We were very conscientious about splitting it evenly, because cod is $$$ and the portion was tiny. It was served on a bed of fresh summer beans and shiitake mushrooms with a verjus foam. Very delicious and probably my favourite flavours of the night, but not very filling. I should also remember that we were only paying $35 each for the meal, so this was still a great value all things considered.
My thoughts after eating the starters and mains were mixed – all of the dishes were very tasty, but the portions were a little out of whack. You could have either a small, vegetarian tostada or a large, steaming pile of calamari in a rich sauce. You could then choose between a small piece of cod without a true starch to even out the plate, or a piece of steak with a hearty pile of cauliflower and broccoli. It also rubbed me the wrong way that even though we asked our server for “one of each”, I was brought the smaller, less filling dish each time by food runners without being asked who would be having what. Clearly they hadn’t met me before.
The dessert, M.M. apple pie, came out next. The crust was really nice and flaky and the top was a bit caramelized with cheddar cheese complementing the pastry nicely. I love cheddar on apple pie and have heard pushback on this before, but this slice would have appealed even the least adventurous palate. It also came out with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream, which Matt loved. I think they use an apple with a higher sugar content to make this dessert, so the result is a pleasing treat that ended the night on a sweeter note than I expected.
Despite my grumpiness about the portion sizes and the presumptuous service (though not actually from our server, who was perfect throughout the meal!), I really liked the atmosphere and would definitely come back. I know Matt is already wondering when we’ll be able to go in again for the calamari and pie. We’re planning on checking out the Sunday Supper at our next opportunity and think you should too! Seeing families in there sharing stacks of fried chicken or tucking into thick, fresh burgers made me feel this place has a lot more to offer than what we got to see on the prix fixe menu.
Model Milk has been around since 2011 and is run by the same team as Pigeonhole, which I visited last weekend as part of my Summer Feast celebrations. While they both have similar price points and a similar style of covering the table with shared plates, they both have very different things to offer. I recommend adding Model Milk (308 17th Ave SW) to the list of places you should try soon, if you haven’t already!