Fine dining Italian cuisine in Tsawwassen
Deciding to treat ourselves on a whim we made last minute reservations at Illuminate for a Friday night and had a delightful, special evening! The place was pleasantly packed (good sign) but we had requested a quiet table and had a lovely spot in a little alcove. We ordered widely off the menu (three of us) and from the very tempting specials, so got a good overview of the cuisine on offer. All dishes were yummy, but the Seafood Provencale, mushroom soup and the heavenly gnocchi get a special mention...over the top delicious! Service was really exceptional, and the dessert menu (yay!) included a lovely dessert wine and house-made biscotti; the perfect end to a perfect meal. Coffee was also excellent. We felt the value was good...the cuisine is superior and the portions were perfect, not to small and not too big. Lovely wine selection. We will be making time to go back more often to this lovely local gem.
Illuminate has been open for since October, 2005 and already has become known as Tsawwassen's best restaurant. We decided to give it a try on Saturday night with some visitors from Australia. We left a reservation on their voicemail and it was politely confirmed later that day. (The restaurant is not open for lunch). We were greeted and seated quickly and offered a choice of two tables which was a nice touch. The service was professional and the servers smartly dressed. Our server took quite a while to ask us if we wanted drinks and then a while longer to take our order. Generally though the servers were competent but a little on the pretentious side.
The meal was far better than some reviews that had been given from friends ho had eaten there before. We shared appetizers of delicious calamari with a zesty tomato, olive and caper relish and mussels in a delicous tomato broth. For mains two of us had the house rissoto and two had the seafood linguini , both of which were tasty and satisfying.
The deserts were varied and we tried the house tiramisu which was excellent.
There was a good choice of beers (try the lemon ale!), martinis and wines. Prices in general were on the expensive side (starters $7-$14, pastas average $15 and mains $18-$29) for the burbs but good value compared to downtown. Illuminate is modern looking with a lengthy bar, ideal for singles and kitchen watchers. A very enjoyable dining experience
We have been going to Illuminate for a number of years. We used to consider it a real gem but they have declined so much in the last year that we are removing them from our list of places to dine.
When we first started going the prices were reasonable. They are not in the busy downtown area so they were not charging downtown prices. They have adjusted their pricing and prices are now comparable to what you would pay at a top end restaurant like Il Giardino (our favorite). This may not be so hard to swallow if the quality of food, ambiance etc was in line with our experiences Il Giardino but it isn't. Over the last while they have cut down on the portions that they serve as well as raised the prices. This is not a good combination. As my husband said last night "If I'm going to pay the kind of money that Illuminate is charging now I'd rather go to Il Giardino." The Tuscan chicken used to be half a chicken, now it's just the chicken breast. When we were there just before New Year's I ordered the steak with peppercorn sauce. It was bland, bland, bland. For $34.00 it should be exceptional. When we mentioned it to the waiter (after dinner) as I didn't want to make a fuss he graciously compted us dessert. We decided to give them another try - maybe it was just an off night. Last night hubby had the chicken, he mentioned to the waiter that he was disappointed that it was no longer half chicken but is just the chicken breast, we were given a complimentary dessert again. I had the special of the day sablefish and it was perfectly cooked but the only accompaniment was beans, beans and more beans (not very interesting). This place has gone so far downhill that we will not return.
The service is okay. Our waiter did not mention one of the specials of the day. I heard another waiter telling his table about the special and it was something I would have ordered (maybe it had something other than beans served with it). Our water was not refilled and we had to top up the wine ourselves on occasion. This is on an evening that was not busy. There also was no quality check it was left up to us to mention that we were disappointed with the accompaniments and the changes to the chicken. When we mentioned it our waiter said that he thought the chicken was better the way it used to be. Why mess with success?
The ambiance is nice but certainly it is not of a calibre that justifies the prices they are now charging.
It's too bad, we used to really enjoy this restaurant. Not recommended.
Wow! ...and that is coming from picky eaters/diners!
We reecently celebrated our parents 50th Wedding Anniversary and chose Illuminate. We had never been, but very glad we did!
Our group of 10 enjoyed the back private wine room, but felt very much like a part of the atmosphere (unlike other rest that make you feel like you have been bad an placed in the back room for a time-out).
Michael served us with class and poise, often he was there with water, wine and we didn't even know it. The entire staff helped out to serve entrees to ensure freshness.....nice touch!
Roland, Owner/Chef (and Swedish), has creatd a visually delightful 'Delta Jewel', topped with delicious, heartly portions. He also created some a la carte custom dishes with a 'Swedish touch' for our parents special day. Superb!
Canelloni is soft and rich, Bolognese sauce is the best ever, the lobster tail was fresh, soft and juicy, the short rib was fork tender, risotto was rich and plently and the wine list was expansive without being daunting, and not overly expensive.
Will defianately be back soon, and very willing to travel the distance to get there from Caulfield, West Vancouver.
'Tusen Tack' Illuminate!
i have been there twice and i have to say wow, what a nice place, but in the wrong neighborhood, i bet they would attract some serious customers if they would move to vancouver, we only been there when we had to drop off family at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. this hidden surprise was a lovely welsome to our palates, we basically ordered half of their appetizers, i forgot their names, but i am sure their website is self-explanatory, very delicious and presentation is numero uno, the pricing is understandably high for what you are getting.
We went to Illuminate recently with another couple. It was a wonderful experience for all. The waiter was knowledgable, friendly, believable, and helpful. Truly felt he was part of the experience not a hovering annoyance. I believe his name was Steve.
The goat cheese salad, crispy prawns and scallops all execellent.
I have been paying a lot of money for very dissappointing food lately so I feel motivated to write this review. I have a friend working for a high end in downtown Vancouver and she has made the trip to eat here more than I have.What a treat to have this kind of restaurant in Tsawwassen. I only hope that it gets the clientele it deserves.
We have dined there 4 times in the last year and I must say that 2 experiences were good but the other 2 were not - the last was a disaster. In May, We arrived to be seated at the bar ( ok. no big deal) but we had to push to order wine - ( seated at the bar!) and then push again to order food - the couple seated next to us came in after us and were served their meal ( same choices) before us. By the time we got our food ( 55 minutes) we wre actually not really hungry any more having devoured all the bread. Then when it came time to pay, my c.card was lost off the bar - it fell out of the folder somewhere but the barman insisted I had not put it in the folder and that it was nowhere so I paid with another cc - anyway I called them them next day and sure enough, they had my c.card. I think this is a good restaurant but the food is patchy as is the service. It is a sort of 50% hit or miss and for the prices it should be more consistent. Busy times is when you judge a restaurant - any restaurant can serve well when 1/2 full but the mark of a good restaurant is consistency all the time.
Strange that I write a review and it always disappears into the black hole of "not so good" reviews.....Hey if you ever want to get better you gotta know where your opportunites are :)
Illuminate is a hit and miss.....I have the right to say it because we eat there a lot! Please change up your menu..It has been the same for the last couple years...I will say however they are very accomodating to making something you want, and thank you for that! The last time we were there we had a great bottle of wine and a couple appys and pastas. The pasta was not too bad, but I have had better. The prawns were gigantic and didn't have much tatse, but the lobster sauce was quite yummy.... The beet salad was very nice however the calamari was disgusting! It was a giant piece of squid! Rubbery and just plain too big...where were the nice sautee'd baby squid? The small ones are the tasty ones...Please modify this dish.
All in all it was OK. Illuminate, please shake up your menu a bit for us Tsawwassenites who really dont have too many good choices in T town. We come often, but would come more if you had a seasonal menu....Please take advantage of the culinary seasons..You have the potential to be great....not just good.
I love their selection of wines. Really nice spread of food and everything is creatively tasty. I go there for family dinners and they usually give us a room all to ourselves and close the curtains to block out the noise from the rest of the restaurant, which is very courteous. The lighting is very dim, and my grandmother usually requests that someone turn them up a bit so she can read her menu. I love eating there, but I always feel like I'm in a bathroom or something. The place seems very cold and almost like I'd expect to hear an echo of myself. But...it could just be the room we're always seated in, because all of my friends love the place.
This is one of those places that is tucked away in Tsawwassen and very few people know about it aside from the locals. I take my visitors from out of town here. It's often one of the food highlights of their trip. You can get bookings a few hours in advance usually. They have an extensive wine list and their servers are knowledable and can suggest things if you arent sure what to pair your food with. One of the things I especially love about this place is that they really cater to your food needs. I tend to go with people that are food divas and the the staff is great about making something special for you. Very fresh vegetables and served crispy no matter what the dish is. I had the gnocchi last time which was fantastic.
The only thing I could say is the the bread they serve before dinner is often too hard to eat. The crust is quite tough (in the oven too long?) and it's not warmed up to where you could use the butter to soften it.
Aside from that one item I highly suggest you check this place out. It's a great place to take family on special occasions and it's reasonably priced for what you get. A large salad, entree and glass of wine each is around 70 dollars for two people.
I love that I don't have to go to the big city to get this kind of quality food!
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