Friday, 8 March 2013

Dunlop House - learning it right.

Dunlop House is located at the Lansdowne campus of Camosun College. The restaurant is run by the Hospitality Management students (and who will probably be gracing the Fairmonts and Four Seasons of the world soon) – and each of them rotates through the various jobs – so last week’s sous chef, may be this week’s hostess and next week’s dishwasher. We were greeted in the parking lot upon arrival by a very cheerful girl (and reminded that we have to pay for parking). Held in Dunlop House, a Samuel Maclure designed house at the corner of Lansdowne and Henderson, you’re seated in either the main dining room, decorated in soft greys or the smaller, dark-paneled, side dining room. We were lucky enough to sit in the more cozy, paneled room, right at the bay window.

The style of menu is rotating as well. This was the first week of a five-course meal, with choice of main. Last week diners made a three course selection from 3-4 choices in each category. The instructor also explained to us that in upcoming weeks, one menu will be hundred-mile focused – with most food and wine selections coming from the peninsula and Salt Spring Island.

And onto the food – no shots of the homemade bread we were offered (French, potato and a roll), but the butter was beautiful – sun-dried tomato and herbed butter – artfully displayed. The bread was no slouch either – all made in-house and devoured rapidly by our table.

    Sun-dried tomato & herb butter


Bread. Check. First course next:



Salad course of arugula with crispy bacon, topped with shredded parmesan. And you can just see a glass of Averil Creek Pinot Gris in the background….both were fabulous.

    Arugula salad with bacon


Next course was a roasted fennel soup – served in great little tear-drop style bowls.

    Roasted fennel soup


And then the seafood trio course. Thin slices of beet cured salmon was topped with a seared triangle of tuna. And in a small cup, sitting on top of a thin cedar sheet was scallop cerviche.

    Seafood trio: tuna, salmon and cerviche


Then we were served an amuse bouche – a cherry tomato, stuffed with black olive tapenade and goat cheese, perched on a sliver of crustini and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Simple, beautiful and tasty.

    Amuse bouche - tapenade tomato


The main course selections for the evening were halibut or duck breast. The halibut, nicely seared but still moist, was served with brown rice, bok choy and carrots.  The duck was served with quinoa in a light, Asian-style broth that was lightly scented with ginger. I cut the duck breast with a butter knife…so tender.

    Halibut with bok choy
    Duck on quinoa

And finally Рthe dessert trio. A vanilla and almond cr̬me brulee, topped with a spun sugar, a lemon zuccotto (like a lemon mousse) and a bourbon & peach chocolate cheesecake. The brulee was silky smooth, the zuccotto was tangy, but the cheesecake was a little subdued (maybe I should have done the lemon last). I also had the wine pairing (a glass of red with my duck and a glass of Quady vineyards Essensia Рan orange muscat with dessert).

    Dessert trio: brulee, zuccotto and cheesecake


In addition to it all tasting fabulous, it doesn’t break the bank at Dunlop. Dinner was $30/head, the wine pairings (2 glasses) $12, while single glasses of a Spanish Tempranillo or local Pinot Gris were $5/$6. Because of the changing menu – you may not have the choices we did – but the beautiful setting, attentive service and professional plating are there for every meal (and I’m not the only one with this opinion – it’s not easy to get a reservation at the Dunlop – directly attributed to how good it is).

Stay tuned for review number two as I’ll be dining at the Dunlop again. I could say it has to do with trying a restaurant twice to properly assess their consistency and whatnot….but really, I just want to eat there again.

Dunlop House - Camosun College-Lansdowne Campus
Corner of Lansdowne Road & Foul Bay Road
Semester based - Winter and Spring
see website: http://camosun.ca/learn/programs/hosptour/dunlop.html
or call: 250 370-3144

Dunlop House Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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