I try not to let hype influence my reviews of a restaurant. I went to Ensemble thinking that it might be okay because it had great pictures on its website and some fairly interesting-sounding dishes. It is owned by the very well-respected Dale MacKay, so that piqued my interest; however, this is Vancouver, after all, and it's hard to find a decent restaurant that is consistent, let alone innovative.
So, the hostess experience was unpleasant right off that bat. Perhaps she was new? Smug hostesses do not make me feel like I want to sit down and have a pleasant dining experience. Thankfully, the other hostess was perfectly ... civil. My friend and I then waited for what felt like an eternity (more like 15 minutes) before a server acknowledged our existence. They were too busy chatting each other up and disappearing into back rooms to re-emerge empty-handed, then lean against something and smirk. We finally got water and ordered our drinks and dishes. It was a casual atmosphere, so I forgive our server for explaining things haphazardly, though it would have been nice if she hadn't forcefully interrupted us when we were deep in conversation, or if she'd come 'round when we tried multiple times to catch her -- or anyone's -- attention. The food itself brought up some conflicting feelings: the ingredients were fresh, the preparation can't be faulted -- but the food itself was quite boring. Perhaps I was expecting too much? I chose dishes that I thought would illustrate the chef's creativity and skill, and I was disappointed in that respect. I understood what they were going for, but I didn't want to order any of the dishes ever again. They included the crab in melon soup, the foie gras sundae, and the pork belly. The latter was the best of the three because it had the addition of Brussels sprouts, cashews, and pear, creating nice texture and a good contrast to the salty, fatty pork. The other dishes were slightly mismatched and uninteresting, the foie gras sundae having no discernible flavour aside from the apricot. All in all, I would give it a miss -- and it hurts me to say that!