We walked to Vanilla on a very cool and windy Spring evening for dinner. We were 20 minutes late for our reservation (and I HATE to be late!), and the place was packed. As expected, our table had been given to another couple, which was no problem at all, as it was our fault. We were charmingly entertained with chat at the bar (by the manager? not sure) while we poured over the wine list and the dinner menu.
We had been tempted by a number of items on the a la carte menu online but were thrown by the 2 or 3 course menu options. We completely misunderstood the whole arrangement and thought we HAD to have the 2 course or 3 course meal option (which neither of us really wanted), but we ordered it – and the servings were absolutely huge!! When we got the bill, we discovered that the dishes were charged individually, so we could’ve actually ordered what we wanted (which was a couple of starters! – but we didn’t ask, did we? Our bad) We did, however, have a fabulous bottle of wine – Creu Celta 2006 Priorat. We ordered this at the bar before going to our table, and because of our rather loud noises of satisfaction on tasting it, the couple next to us ordered a bottle, too – the last one in the place. See what good customers we are?
The flavours of the dishes we chose were fantastic. We had: goats cheese, honey and pesto beignets, beetroot, balsamic puree; salt & pepper squid, pickled carrot & ginger, ripe mango, carrot & anise syrup; goats cheese & beetroot tart, dressed salad, onion marmalade, big chips; 2 sides (instead of one main) crispy falafel salad, olives, artichokes, feta cheese, smoked aubergine, tahini dressing; black pepper & buttermilk onion rings. The squid was fabulous – pickled carrot and ginger complimented the kick of the squid perfectly, and the mango underneath gave a lovely, sweet juxtaposition to the other flavours. Goat’s cheese beignets were spot on – perfect temperature and texture. Wished we’d stopped there!!! Looking around at the other very satisfied diners, I was amazed to see them all putting these huge dishes away like they were nothing! Talk about stamina!! I was very impressed. Maybe because we had been eating our way around Ireland and Northern Ireland we were getting a little dinner fatigued!
Overall, a great night! Am so glad the barman made his gentle suggestion with the wine (as we were unfamiliar with a few on offer) – it was a real gem, and totally made the night for us.