12 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A4
Tastiness Factor: 9/10
Locavore Approved? YES- Although they do not have the word "local" and "sustainable" posted all over their website like many Vancouver restaurants, the ingredients on the menu were very representative of what is available locally right now. Lots of mushrooms, potato, root veg, kale pears and apples which are all front and centre at our Winter Farmer's Market.
December 23 will be a sad day for the Gastown food scene. It is the day that the well-reputed and well-loved Boneta will close its doors. Unlike most restaurants that close because of hard times or loss of clientele, Boneta will be closing on a high note with a large fan base that is mourning its passing. Over its 7 years of business, it has won over 20 awards for both its food and drink. The owners are moving onto other endeavours and are glad to be bowing out while Boneta is still at the top of its game.
I am sorry to say that I never really had Boneta on my "food radar" until a friend mentioned that they were closing and recommended that I check it out before it was too late. So this past Friday evening, 3 weeks before closing, we headed out to Gastown to see what all the fuss was about.
Boneta is tucked away in a hidden little alley in Gastown with a sign on the street to direct you in. The space itself is actually quite large with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. There are multiple tables for large groups at the front, a nice open kitchen at the front and an impressive bar at the back. The room was full on the night of our busy and abuzz with content guests. While the room and the food can be considered "upscale", there is a laid back and relaxed feel overall, devoid of pretension.
Boneta has a concise drink menu, carefully chosen for the current dishes being offered. They also have quite a unique cocktail list, with most cocktails being original creations of the restaurant. We had just finished a few cocktails at the nearby Diamond (which Boneta's co-owner Mark Brand is also involved in apparently) so we did not sample any ourselves but I have heard nothing but great things about their drink offerings from others.
The food menu is fairly concise yet complete, with a good mix of items for all palates. There is a nice variety of appies and mains, with vegetarian options and there is also a note at the bottom of the menu saying that they will gladly prepare vegan dishes on request.
Here were our selections of the evening:
The Octopus Chips, Lemon, Chili, Parsley and Spicy Aioli- I had read rave reviews of these online and was quite intrigued. I am not usually one for rich, fried foods and these were without a doubt both of the above, but there was no denying that these were darn tasty. The light batter was crispy and light overtop the thinly sliced octopus. I cannot say exactly what the batter was seasoned with but it was sinfully delicious. Add to this the creamy aioli and you have a match made in heaven. Whether you think you like octopus or not, these are a must-try.
Fennel, Pear, Greens, Almonds and Roasted Tomato Goat Cheese Vinaigrette- A perfectly executed salad, plain and simple as every good salad should be. The greens were perfectly dressed the light vinaigrette, and topped with pear, almonds, fennel and goat cheese, all in perfect proportions. There is no better way to enjoy seasonal ingredients.
Le Poutine: Hand Cut Fries, Fresh Curds and Proper Gravy- Hubby just could not resist this one, and nor could I resist a few bites.. And fortunately, we were not disappointed. The fries were plump and crispy, perfect for topping with a healthy amount of cheese curds (the real deal!) and a deliciously rich gravy. A word of caution- this is quite a large portion for 1 person to polish off as an appie so you may want to consider sharing this to leave room for a main (or not!).
Ling Cod, Chanterelle and Pea Ravioli, Charred Scallions, Mushroom Consomme Foam- I would go so far as to call this one of the best fish dishes I have had this year. It was an all around amazing dish- well-conceived, seasonally inspired, beautifully presented, and most importantly, delicious. The fish was perfectly cooked with a nice sear on the outside, and lay overtop an bed of scallions and mushrooms that were jaw-droppingly flavourful. The final component of the dish was the handmade ravioli which were to die for. Although the ingredients in this dish were relatively simple, the flavours were very complex and expertly combined to create this harmonious dish. Wow.
Onglet Steak, Savoury Potato Fondant, Brown Butter Carrots, Brussel Sprouts and Dijon Soubise- Hubby has had this fair share of steak over the years and this one really blew him away. For starters, It was one of the most striking steak plates I have ever seen. The steak itself was cooked absolutely perfectly and was "melt-in-your-mouth". The side were simple so as not to overshadow the steak but were still very tasty in their own right. Just as with my ling cod, this dish was perfectly balanced in every way.
After all that amazing food, we were too full to order dessert, but, to our great delight, we were brought this little complimentary treat as the perfect end to our meal. The folks at Boneta sure know how to wow their guests!
Quite frankly, Hubby and I were pretty blown away by Boneta. Our dishes, especially the mains, were some of the best we have had this past year and that is heavy praise. If only we had discovered this hidden gem earlier! I cannot wait to find out what new endeavours these co-owners have up their sleeves next. I will most definitely be staying tuned!