It was five years ago today that I met my partner in life.  We met in a cool little bistro downtown Vancouver, We immediately felt the click and talked for hours and enjoyed the tapas, wine and the ambience this small bistro offered.  After that night we were inseparable and still are.

Today we live in the suburbs, we have an awesome son who usually goes with us everywhere we go but today we thought, let’s get Grandpa over here for a few hours and celebrate our anniversary by going out for lunch.  Because we live outside of the downtown core our choices are limited to small little places or large restaurant chains; we chose Coza, a newer restaurant belonging to the Cara group out in Langley.  They boast an Italian theme to the point that the owners who started this up thought it would be a great idea to fly to Italy, absorb the tastes they encountered and bring those tastes back to BC, create a menu of classic Italian cuisine and fit it with their upscale ambience. They wanted to do it right and we wanted to finally check them out.

The place is nice, the open kitchen concept is in the middle of the dining room.  They even have a real stone oven, with the bar to the side.  The hostess greeted us and took us to a table in the corner behind a curtain. As it was not too busy, I asked if we could sit at a different booth, one with a better view of the action.  She complied and we were then seated in a booth that wasn’t hidden from view.  We ordered a pint of beer and a glass of Malbec and had a look at the lunch menu.  I saw Carpaccio, Penne Carbonara, Flatbreads, Caesar salad and Antipasto plates to name a few.  Looking at the menu we felt like we were in Italy.  The drinks came, my beer was fine but the glass that the Malbec came in was smudged with finger prints which we quickly wiped down before pouring in the wine that came in a carafe on the side.  My first thought was, wow they must be under staffed if there isn’t even enough time to clean the glasses after they are washed?  I’m almost positive that they still do that in Italy.

Moving on… I ordered the Carpaccio as an appetizer followed by the Penne Carbonara and my Spouse ordered the Flatbread pizza.  Both main courses came with a Caesar salad on the side, a nice touch.

The Carpaccio came, I took one bite and instantly looked for salt & pepper to give this thinly sliced meat dish any flavour that I could.  There was some sauce on top and when the server told me it was gorgonzola sauce I was stunned.  It had no flavour much less any taste of gorgonzola.  The mini garnish salad on top of the dish had little to no taste and there was no evidence of Olive Oil anywhere on the plate.  Then the Caesar salad came in a plastic bowl with two side dishes that must have come straight from the dishwasher because they were still wet.  It was kind of a toss it and serve yourself deal which we gladly did but then came the taste, nothing…  Luckily we still had the salt & pepper by our side to add flavour.  I wonder how such an ancient recipe as Caesar dressing can be changed for the worse.  The food that followed, brought to us by a server with a mohawk, was just ok although my better half did enjoy her flatbread so there is a plus.  Overall Coza has potential but not if they keep doing what they’re doing…

My point as usual is, aren’t the cooks in the kitchen supposed to make food taste good? Aren’t they trained to do that? Isn’t that why we pay more to go out than to stay in? Aren’t we, the customer supposed to enjoy a meal and be in awe of it when we leave and want to return or tell people about our great experience?  I am sure there are restaurants out there that can do it, want to do it and take pride in what they do and how but why are they all on the other side of the bridge?

I’m open to any recommendations that are out there…

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