Sanafir, Vancouver

UPDATE: Sanafir closed  in September 2012. Its owners, Glowbal Group, have opened a new restaurant there called The Fish Shack

We received some generous gift cards a few years ago that are valid at any Glowbal Group restaurant. So we decided to have dinner at Sanafir on Granville Street before a concert.

Here’s what the 20-something me would have thought of Sanafir:

Wow, what a cutting edge menu with Middle Eastern, Indian AND Mediterranean flavours.

It’s a good-looking restaurant in terms of the rich Moroccan décor and most of the young staff. And you can’t beat the great location — I can stumble to the Roxy after! Woo!

This is what my 30-something self thought of Sanafir:

The menu is suffering a personality crisis. Tagines, curries, ceviche, paella… where are we?!

The lamb kofta ($8.95) had some decent flavours but I wanted more than a drizzle of mint/parsley cous cous. It’s not like cous cous is going to break the bank.

The octopus salad ($8.95) could have been a hit. The tender octopus meat was nicely cooked. But the chorizo and mussels were bland, fingerling potatoes undercooked and the lettuce limp.

Sanafir, Vancouver

The positives: The room is gorgeous to look at. Our server Elin was very personable and efficient. She was the highlight of an otherwise mediocre experience.

The music was my biggest peeve. It was so loud and so bad (a mix of rave, Cuban jazz and just plain crap). I had to focus on our server’s lips to verify what she was saying. I could barely hear Jason who was sitting across from me.

As for the other staff, if you’ve got nothing to do, please don’t block the narrow entryway, or the hallway to the bathroom. It’s awkward.

Sanafir, Vancouver

To Mr. Smarmy Manager, if you’re going to ask us how our evening is going, could you at least wait for an answer before walking away? Because I would have politely asked why the meat and cheese platter ($14.95) was not as advertised.

The menu stated a selection of Manchego and Valdeon cheeses, three meats, marinated vegetables, olives, quince paste and crostini. The bread and quince were fine. But we got three SLICES of Manchego cheese, two meats (duck prosciutto with too much fat, passable Serrano ham) and an arugula salad with three olives and two peels of marinated carrot.

I’m obviously not Sanafir’s target market — unless I’m heading back to 2000 in a DeLorean to meet friends for drinks.

Sanafir, 1026 Granville St., Vancouver, (604) 678-1049. Open Sunday to Thursday 4:30 p.m.-1 a.m., Friday and Saturday 4:30 p.m.-2 a.m.

Sanafir Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon