Sunday 30 June 2013

Tasty Finds in Mackenzie Heights

Hubby and I have recently added a little extension onto our Saturday morning visit to the Kerrisdale Farmer's Market.  It involves a pleasant walk to the West, to a little neighbourhood called MacKenzie Heights.

If you are a lover of a satisfying lunch, delicious baked goods or both, MacKenzie Heights should be on your radar.  While driving towards UBC a few weeks ago, my very observant Hubby spotted two great foodie finds there that are certainly worth a visit.

Food Find #1: Bigsby's The Bakehouse

This casual little lunch spot is a place where you feel as though you can put your feet up and stay a while.  Its rustic charm also comes across in its food.  Expect to find a nice variety of baked goods, both sweet and savoury, from homemade loaves of bread to flatbread pizza to pies to cookies to scones to muffins and, yes, even to poptarts (what a blast from the past!).  They are open for breakfast and lunch daily, and offer daily specials on a chalkboard.  A big shout out to Bigsby for its commitment to using  local ingredients and for keeping changing their menu daily to reflect what is fresh and seasonal.  
We arrived at Bigsby's just in time for lunch and Hubby was hungry for his favourite lunch item, the sandwich.  His eyes were immediately drawn to the turkey club and he was sold.  It proved to be a very good choice.  The turkey (real meat, none of that pressed stuff!, bacon, tomato, pickle and lettuce were piled high on three slices of homemade toasted bread, and served with the cutest little pickled carrot on the side.  All Hubby, the sandwich connoisseur, could do after his first bite was to nod enthusiastically in approval.  This is a hands-down winner among the best and brightest of the sandwich world!

Food Find #2: Butter Baked Goods and Cafe

Although Bigsby's had more than enough yummy-looking baked goods to choose from, we decided to mix things up a bit and headed across the street to Butter.  Although at first glance it may seem a bit redundant to have two bakeshops almost adjacent to each other, you will find that each has its own niche.  While Bigsby's has a rustic and down-home fell,  Butter is a pretty and done up like a stick of chewing gum (as my grandma used to say).  The pastel colour scheme gives it a very clean, pleasant feel, and it makes you want to sit down with a "spot of tea" .  Just like the decor, the baked goods are also very chic.  One of my favourite things about Butter is the way they put a playful twist on tradition, with very fun squares, unique flavours of scones and a amazing "cookie sandwiches".  Hubby had the Campfire bar, their twist on a smore, with a delicious graham cracker crust, dark chocolate in the middle and then marshmellow on top.  He has also tried the Coney Island Bar, another marshmallow treat, with walnuts and a chocolate base.  Both were absolutely decadent!

Being the scone fiend that I am, I have had scones on both of my visits to Butter.  The first was a lemon-thyme scone and the second was a cherry-chocolate scone.  I have previously written a post about my favourite scones in Vancouver (read it here), and I now feel the need to add Butter scones to my list.  They are unbelievably good and amazingly buttery (guess I should have guessed they would be!).  They are quite a heavy scone instead of the more "light and fluffy variety, and are therefore perfect for spreading with butter, jam or, my favourite, almond butter (yum, yum, yum).  If you are a scone lover, make your way with haste to Butter and discover what kind of amazing scone they have whipped up today!

I am so glad to have discover these little hidden gems in MacKenzie Heights and I cannot wait for a return visit next Saturday.  It continues to amaze me how many of these cool little areas of Vancouver I am still discovering anew after living here for over three years.  Can't wait to find out what else is still waiting for me check out!  Stay tuned!

Bigsby the Bakehouse on Urbanspoon

Butter Baked Goods on Urbanspoon

Friday 28 June 2013

The Tale of Two Tasting Menus at West Restaurant Vancouver

2881 Granville St  Vancouver, BC V6H 3J4
(604) 738-8938

Tastiness Factor: 9.5/10

Atmosphere: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Locavore Approved?  MOST DEFINITELY (Their slogan is "Contemporary Regional Cuisine" and they certainly do their region proud.  Impressive dedication to locally-sourced ingredients, especially in the world of fine dining.  A mention is given to the local producers supplying the ingredients in a number of the dish descriptions.  The detail that our server was able to give about where our food originated from was also very commendable).

There is nothing like having many things to celebrate at once, and no better way to celebrate than going out for a nice dinner.  With my aunt visiting from Boston, and a big milestone that I had come to in my career, I was looking for something extra special.  And the first place that came to my mind was West.

We are fortunate to have West, one of the most well reputed restaurants in Vancouver, within a stone's throw from our residence.  Although it is close, it is a place that we reserve for special occasions.  We last went on our wedding anniversary last year, at which time we treated ourselves to the tasting menus.  We were blown away and have had it in the back of our minds to return but have been waiting for another special occasion to justify the cost of going "all out".  And fortunately for us, that time came just last week.

West is located in a quiet location in South Granville, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.  The storefront is quiet small and inconspicuous, which is quite a contrast to the large, deep room with high ceilings.  At the front is one of the most beautiful bars I have ever seen.  On the wall behind the bar is a wall with little cubbies filled with wine (temperature controlled), and a moving ladder used by staff to reach them.  The bar manager, David Wolowidnyk, has won numerous awards around the globe for his very creative cocktails.  Many of his award winners remain on the menu, but he is constantly pushing the envelope and creating new imaginative drinks to add to the list.

Past the bar is the main dining room, and then at the very back is the semi-open kitchen with two adjacent "chef's tables" (by far the best seats in the house). The room itself is quite formal and grand, a rarity in a city where many view fine dining as "passé".

Service at West is outstanding. Our server was very gracious and remarkably knowledgeable about both the cocktail list and the food menu.  He was able to suggest a wonderful cocktail based on my description- not too sweet and unique.  The Passage to India fit this description perfectly.  It was made with house-made mango liqueur, rum, lemon and spices including curry and chili.  The way that the flavours evolved in your mouth was quite remarkable- first sweet then a kick of heat at the very end.  Hubby had the Sazerac, a classic cocktail made with Rye and lemon zest, which was very well executed. 

The impressive service continued into dinner service as well- dishes were served simultaneously by multiple servers in perfect synchrony and then wicked away discreetly at just the right time.  I can find fault in nothing when it comes to service. 

Although West has a wonderful a-la-carte menu, I would highly recommend their tasting menus.  They have three choices of tasting menu- land, sea and vegetarian.  It is rare to find a vegetarian tasting at a fine dining establishment and, although the sea tasting is fantastic, I have gravitated to the vegetarian menu on both of my visits.  Hubby, who ordered the meat menu last time, was considering the sea tasting on this return visit but because he had such an incredible meal on our anniversary dinner, he just had to go for take two of the meat menu.  My aunt was also considering the sea menu, since she was in Vancouver after all, but the foie gras on the meat menu could not be passed up.  

And so the tale of the two tasting menus begins.

The story began with an Amuse Bouche, with a different one for each of the tasting menus.  Both were very artfully presented and sophisticated.

Then followed our tasting menus, which I will go through one dish at a time, first the vegetarian then the meat.

Vegetarian Tasting:

Hannah Brook Farms Asparagus-  The asparagus in this dish was wonderfully fresh, and grown at a nearby farm that sells its produce at the farmer's market that I visit every week.   It would be a crime not to include an asparagus dish at this time of year, and chef Quang Dang has it covered.  The dish was actually different than what I had pictured by reading the menu description ("hen's egg, shallots"), as I expected to see an egg or pieces of it.  Instead, the egg was made into a custard-like base for the asparagus.  It complemented the asparagus beautifully, without overpowering it.  The asparagus was undoubtably the star, making it the perfect start to this vegetarian tasting menu.

Spring Pea Soup- This beautifully green soup was quite light, a nice transition from creamy "winter"soups at this time of year.  The pea flavor really came through, as did the little bite of bite from the fromage frais as it became incorporated into the soup.  A treat for the eyes and the palate.

Ancient Grain Salad- As soon as this dish was put in front of me, I immediately thought of a forest coming into bloom, with the herbs as the foliage, the fennel and eggplant as the tree trunks and the eggplant puree and grains underneath as the soil.  Stunning.  The flavors of the dish also matched this theme- rustic and full-bodied.  The creamy eggplant puree was a perfect textural contrast to the chewy grains, as were the fava beans with their little bit of "pop".   Exquisite.

Porcini Mushroom Tortellini- This may sound odd, but I have never tasted as "meaty" of a vegetarian dish as this.  The different preparations and varieties of mushrooms in this dish really took this dish to another level and they were the obvious principal component, with the pasta as the accompaniment.  I have never in my life tasted such earthy flavors.  I appreciated the progression of the dishes from the two lighter courses to start, followed by the deeper flavors of the 3rd course, and now ending so successfully with this hearty finale.

Pineapple sorbet (pre-dessert)- Served with both the vegetarian and meat tastings, this was a nice palate cleanser before the dessert that I enjoyed very much.  However, I did find the pineapple to be a bit of a peculiar choice for this spring menu and would have preferred a local fruit-based sorbet.  Especially with such lovely strawberries and raspberries at the markets right now:)

Maple Pecan Cake- This dessert was the perfect portion for a tasting menu when you just want a little something sweet to finish things off right.  This particular dessert was a bit on the sweet side for me with the cherries, the maple and cream cheese ice cream and I thought that a lighter choice, such as a meringue, may have been a nicer end to a vegetarian menu than a rather heavy cake.  That said, I still enjoyed every last bite and did appreciate the cherries even more when the server told us that they had been preserved from last year's Okanagan crop!

Meat Tasting:

Although I cannot go into as much detail about the meat tasting since I did not personally try much of it (I am pescatarian), I can give a little insight into the dishes based on the comments of Hubby and my aunt.

Beef Tartare with Sweet Onion, Soy, Sesame and Shallot- This was quite a fresh take on the traditional tartare, both in terms of presentation and taste.  The meat was complimented by other elements that helped to lighten the dish, make it a great way to start.

Twice Cooked Foie Gras with Cherries and Brioche-  Apologies for the blurry picture but I had to snap it in a hurry before it got whisked off the plate!  This was a lovely, balanced plate with just enough foie gras and brioche to give guests their "foie gras fix" but to still leave plenty of room for the courses to come.  The cherries came in the form of a "dust" under the foie gras which had a pleasant flavour, and added lightness and playfulness to the dish.

Thiessen Farm Quail with Potato and Herb Roti and Chevre- Although it was initially though that the Foie Gras would come out the front-runner of the evening, it was this dish that ended up being the favourite.  This succulent quail was cooked beautifully and had perfectly crispy skin and all of the other elements on the plate had nice mild flavours such that the bird took centre stage.

Braised Bison Shortrib with Spring Vegetables and Pepper Broth- This dish really showcased Quang Dang's skill, both as a chef and as an artist.  This jaw-dropping beautiful dish took the traditionally heavy shortrib and lightened it by using bison and by pairing it with these colourful, dainty spring vegetables.

Strawberry Lemon Cream Tart with Fresh Strawberries and Mint Frozen Yogurt- This was a nice, light end to the meat tasting.  Lemon and mint are the perfect end to any meal and to have them together was a real treat for the tastebuds! It was nice to see the fresh strawberries that are starting to pop up all over our region right now.

There was a pre-dessert and a dessert, so of course there had to be a post dessert!  This rich, amazingly smooth truffle was our final farewell from West.

And so, while other fine-dining restaurants have come and gone, it is quite evident that West is continuing to thrive and and hold its spot as one of Vancouver's greatest restaurants.  Service, ambience and food are all outstanding, and the tasting menus that we enjoyed really showcased chef Dang's unparalleled raw talent.  

Thank you West for such a fabulous evening of celebration.

West Restaurant + Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Healthy, Fast and Fresh at Tractor

Although we usually try to eat during the work week, there are some nights when we feel the need to make our lives easier by grabbing take-out.  The criteria for weeknight take out include fast, healthy and inexpensive and it is sometimes a challenge to find a options that fit all three of the above.  My go-to is typically Whole Foods (yes, it is in fact possible to get relatively affordable prepared meals here if you know how to go about it) but tonight, Hubby came up with a new idea.  He suggested we try Tractor, a new cafeteria-style joint on West 4th that claims to offer "everyday healthy food", including salads, sandwiches, soups and stews.  They offer lean meats and fish, and also a variety of vegetarian and vegan options.  The website claims that they use local, organic  ingredients when possible, and in scanning through the menu, there are many ingredients that are found locally and seasonally around Vancouver right now. 

In keeping with their cafeteria-style approach, service was fairly speedy.  Salads are picked up immediately on ordering and we waited about 5 minutes for our sandwich (including grilling time).  Prices may be seen as slightly steep, although the ingredients are of good quality and the three salads that I ordered, although they initially appeared small, made quite a decent meal, especially followed by a cookie (see below)!  They also offer pretty cool little take-out containers for salads which I will definitely be keeping for lunches:)

The room is very pleasant.  Decor is simple with lots of wood, giving it a rustic feel.  There are large coolers of water in the back with cucumber and lemon mixed in, which is a nice touch. 

Hubby had the jicama and citrus salad and the chicken sandwich.  While he was not a huge fan of the salad (more of a personal preference as it was his first time trying jicama and he discovered that he is not a fan), he loved the sandwich.  It was made with thinly-sliced organic chicken from a local farm, topped with fennel, basil and provolone and served on cranberry bread.  Hubby is quite a "sandwich connaisseur" (he can really appreciate a good sandwich!) and this one hit a home run for him. 

I chose three salads from their extensive salad bar, which includes a impressively unique salad options.  No iceberg lettuce or mayonnaise-soaked vegetables to be found, thank goodness! 

My first selection was the kale and apple salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette.  the kale took held the dressing well, giving it a great flavour.  The apples were a bit tart and a nice contrasting taste, but I would have liked to see them cut up into smaller chunks or even julienned.  Overall, very good flavour and a great preparation of a very healthy "superfood".  I even saw kids munching away at it while waiting for our takeout!

My second salad choice was the cauliflower and yukon potato salad with capers, sundried tomato and tarragon vinaigrette.  Again, this was an incredibly flavourful salad which was quite hearty.  And no heavy mayo to be found! I have no idea how they prepared the potatoes, but they were super tender.  If I had one criticism it would be that the salad was a tad oily.  Also, it is quite salty with the capers and tomatoes, so you may want to avoid this one if you are trying to avoid salt.  I am a salt lover so I loved it:)

My last choice was one of their protein salads, the Albacore tuna salad with cucumber, avocado, pickled onion and sesame vinaigrette (note that these are double the price of the vegetable salads).   The tuna beautifully cooked (rare), the chunks of avocado added wonderful creaminess and the pickled onions gave a bit of bite.   Again, this was a hearty salad that was worth the extra cost in my mind.  Unique and delicious!

As we were ordering, we saw sheets of cookies going into the oven and asked what they were.  They were the double chocolate and pistachio cookies (gluten-free), which you MUST try, no matter if you are gluten intolerant or not (we aren't).  Although they may not be all that visually appealing, these little babies are insanely good.  They are pretty tiny, and are a lovely little bite after your meal.

I must thank Hubby for such a wonderful suggestion for take-out on a late weekday night.  Tractor is everything that you could want- fast, healthy, locally-sourced and tasty.  I am very glad to have such a great stand-by after a long day.  Hopefully it will not make me too lazy a cook!

Tractor Foods on Urbanspoon

Monday 24 June 2013

Take Two at Yew

791 W Georgia St  Vancouver, BC V6C 2T4
(604) 692-4939

Tastiness Factor: 4/10 

Atmosphere: 4/5

 Service: 5/5

Locavore Approved? YES (Chef Ned Bell is dedicated to the farm to table philosophy.  The menu includes many varieties and preparations of local fish and the vegetables choices reflected what is currently seasonally available)

My first visit to Yew was in November 2012 and unfortunately, it was not the best of brunch experiences to say the least (see my post here).  I vowed that I would not return.  Why waste time on an expensive restaurant that was such a let-down on the first go-around when there are so many other places on my Vancouver wishlist?  Since then, Hubby has been trying his darndest to convince me to give it another try and I understand why.  Seafood, locally-driven ingredients and, heck, they even have a vegan menu.  What is not to like about that, he asks?  He has been especially insistent for us to return after he went to Yew for a business lunch and had a pleasant meal.

So when my aunt came to town and was staying at the Fairmont in which Yew is located, I caved and suggested it as a option.  My aunt had to catch an early morning flight the next morning so it seemed as though the stars were aligning for a return visit.  And this is how it came to be.

I will start on a positive note, to say that Yew's service was second to none.  Our main server was very lovely, and was very patient in waiting to take our order while we busily chatted about all that had happened since we last met.  The rest of service, including refilling our water and wine, clearing our plates and time between courses was expertly done.

The atmosphere is also quite pleasant.  Although I had not historically been a fan of hotel restaurants, I have had to change my tune lately with the opening of some pretty special hotel restaurants (Hawksworth, Forage).  There is a nautical theme to the room which makes the otherwise formal room seem a bit more approachable and relaxed a-la-Vancouver style.  A nice place for a wide range of events, from business to celebration to a nice night out.

And now onto the most important part, the food. Unfortunately, this is where things start to take a negative spin.  I wanted to like the food, I really did, but the whole meal left me both confused and disappointed once again.  Keep reading to see what I mean.

Grilled asparagus salad- I was eager to try a dish off of the vegan menu as it is unusual to find a separate vegan menu at a fine dining restaurant.  I am glad that I knew about the vegan menu as it is a completely separate menu that we were not told about nor offered and I had to specifically request it.  Is it supposed to be a secret?  While the asparagus was beautifully fresh (I love asparagus season!), I could have taken or left the rest of the elements on the plate.  First of all, I do not think that avocado should ever be cooked (charred avocado, really) and I really did not enjoy the big blob of kale pesto underneath (the same, unfortunate pesto that later appeared on my main).  Although I love my green veggies, the concept of green on green on green was not visually pleasing nor tasty.

Lobster with watermelon- Hubby ordered this more out of pure curiosity than anything else.  He thought it sounded like an odd combo, but that maybe it was just crazy enough to work.  Unfortunately, the pairing of watermelon with lobster is just as wrong as it sounds.  Nothing in this dish worked, from conceptualization to execution.  A complete miss all around.

Caesar salad- Both of my lady dinner companions chose this classic salad as their appie.  They seemed to enjoy it well enough, but turned up their noses at the big pile of anchovies on their plates.  Although there is no doubt that some might enjoy anchovies on their Caesar, I must agree that the clunky pile of full anchovie fillets at the side of the plate was less than appealing and way, way too salty.  Also, I was puzzled by the grilled half lemon at the side of the plate.  It had no juice in it, so I am guessing it was just a useless inedible garnish?

Pan-seared halibut with saffron risotto and kale pesto- When the server told us about us about this dish, the nightly special, I was very excited.  Risotto and halibut in the same dish, amazing!  Hubby thought the same, and, on this rare occasion, we actually ordered the same dish because it sounded so good.  After pretty subpar appies, we remained hopeful about this main- until we ate it, that is.  This was worse than subpar, it was plain old bad.  It lacked any kind of flavor, especially the risotto which tasted like cardboard.  The only redeeming quality was that the fish was decently cooked, but again it lacked seasoning.  Very, very disappointing.  

Westcoast Paella- This was my aunt's choice, and one that I also considered.  When it came out though, I realized that it may have been an even worse choice than my halibut dish as it appeared to be made with the exact same neon orange rice that my risotto was made of, and there was even more of it.  No thanks!

My other dining companions ordered the Grilled Salmon and the Grilled Trout.  While the fish was cooked very well (the salmon was perfectly medium rare), I again found some of the accompaniments somewhat peculiar.  Is that massive, plain piece of kale that takes up half the plate actually meant to be eaten or is it an oversized garnish?

For the table, we also chose a few sides to share (not really necessary as portion sizes are decent), including the Lobster Hash (lots of tomato and potato, not much lobster) as well as the Kennebec Fries with lobster and bacon aioli (Hubby's favorite part of the entire meal).

I am very sorry to say that this will be my last visit to Yew, to which Hubby now agrees after that meal.   There are many other places in Vancouver that offer much better conceived and better executed food, especially at this price point.  Although I appreciate the local philosophy, it is just not enough to bring me back.  In this case, it is two strikes and Yew's out.

YEW seafood + bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday 22 June 2013

Locally Sourced Tapas at Burdock and Co.

2702 Main St. VancouverBC
V5T 3E8

Tastiness Factor: 8/10

Atmosphere: 3/5

Service: 4.5/5

Locavore Approved?  Enthusiastically YES (Very impressive use of seasonal, local ingredients from nearby Vancouver farms (both urban and rural) which she gives credit to up front in the dish descriptions.  Very commendable commitment to all that is local!)

I found out about Burdock and Co. last week while looking reading a link I found on Twitter that was trying to predict the best new restaurants of 2013 as they stand to date.  As I read about its focus on local ingredients, ties to local farmers and veg-centric menus, I asked myself why it had not fallen under my restaurant radar???  I immediately found its website online and, seeing its very intriguing menu, it immediately moved right to the top of my "to-go" list and Hubby and I planned to make it our weekend pick.  I just could not wait any longer to see what this locally-driven joint had to offer.

Burdock is located on Main St., a neighborhood in which new restaurants have been popping up like "weeds" (budock is actually a type of weed!) over the past year (read Acorn, Grub and the new Graze).  It still maintains its hip persona but with perhaps a bit more charm.  And I think that Burdock has done an excellent job in creating a space that fits in well with the Main St. image.  The room is quite small, but the space is used well such that you do not feel as though you are sitting on top of your fellows diners.  There is a row of low seats by one wall and then a a higher table by the other wall.  Additionally, there are seats at the bar from where one can see the chefs preparing the food in the open kitchen (in retrospect, I wish that we had chosen a seat there).  The decor is hip and minimalist with a decent amount of plain wood that matches nicely with the farm-to-table concept.  My only criticism is that it was much too dark, to the point where it was difficult to read the menu or see the food (I am glad to have taken pics so I could see the dishes after the fact!).

Service was both efficient and friendly.  This is a great place to go if you are hungry as the plates start rolling out of the kitchen pretty quickly after you order.  Our servers were very gracious and were helpful in helping up with dish selection.  Our water was always refilled (they have both still and sparkling filtered water for free) and our dishes were cleared promptly.  For such a new restaurant, I give them kudos for doing such a great job on service.

The menu at Burdock is all about shared plates made with locally sourced ingredients.  There is a good mix of vegetarian (including a good number of vegan dishes), seafood and meat dishes of all styles, from fried chicken to farro.  Their menu changes very regularly based on what is seasonally available (the online menu now has changed quite a bit since we were there last week) and, as stated above, there is an earnest focus on locally-sourced ingredients.  I knew that I was in good hands when I walked in and saw several crates of fresh strawberries sitting on the bar, just like the ones that I had bought at the market earlier that day!  They also do a lot of pickling so that they preserve foods with a short growing season well and use them in the coming months.  I felt that the menu was very well conceived and the constant addition of new dishes makes this a place that I would want to visit again to see what else they can come up with.

Burdock also has a nice variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to complement its tapas-style menu.  Being Little Miss Locavore and all, I felt that it was only right that I order the Seasonal Garden-Slug from their succinct cocktail list.  Although presented very simply, this little drink is surprisingly in flavor.  The taste changes as it moves through the mouth, from sweet at first and then ending with a hit of sour from the lemon.  It is extremely well-balanced and light, perfect for summer.  Hubby chose a nice Californian beer.

Then shortly after, our meal began!  Here is the lowdown:

Shaved asparagus and arugula salad with Urban Digs Egg- This dish had the potential to be boring but instead, it packed a surprising amount of flavor for such a little plate of food made with such simple ingredients (a trend that fortunately lasted throughout the meal).  The asparagus was shaved into clean thin strips and dressed in a very well-balanced vinaigrette.  The egg overtop was delicious and almost cooked perfectly (maybe just a tad overdone, I like a really runny yolk!) added both texture and flavor.  I love how they gave credit to Urban Digs Farm, a local farm in the Vancouver suburbs, for their contribution (see their website here). A very pleasant summer dish.  

Wheatberry Risotto- This was a nice unique play on risotto, using wholesome wheatberries instead of arborio.  I loved the chewy texture of the wheatberry, but Hubby was not as big of a fan (just a personal preference).  There were a few mustard greens on the top for color (would have liked more!) and there were some cubes of sunchoke mixed in with the risotto.  The menu description also listed olives as a component although we are pretty sure that there were not olives in our portion.  The real star of this dish was the smoked crema which was absolutely delicious.  Again, they gave a shout-out to a local producer, Farmhouse Natural Cheeses (find out more here) who provided the cheese that was shaved over the dish. 

Fire-roasted Farro- Although we had just eaten the risotto and considered the fact that another grain dish might be a bit redundant, I had read good reviews of this dish in particular and decided to go for it.  I am not sure that I got much of a "fire-roasted" flavor from the farro, but what I did love about this dish was the dish was the amazing black garlic puree (I licked every last drop off the plate).  I also appreciated the addition of the seasonal fiddleheads, although I would have preferred them had they not been pickled (although I can appreciate that this is how they capture flavors of short-season ingredients).  This was a thoughtful vegan dish.  

Fried Chicken and Pickles- After a string of preceding vegetarian and vegan dishes, it was time for Hubby's pick of the night.  This is apparently one of the more popular dishes on the menu, and Hubby really enjoyed the dish.  He especially loved the individual morsels of crispy chicken skin that were scattered between the juicy pieces of chicken.  I tried some of the pickled vegetables on the side and they were lovely (very pretty colors too!).  The bonus to ordering this dish was that a dollar went to Growing Chefs, a local charity that teaches elementary school students about the importance of local food by pairing them with volunteer chefs (see more here).  Love this idea!

Spring Cassoulet-  I decided to order this one at the last minute after we had eaten the other dishes and I still felt that a little protein was in order.  This was a vegetarian play on the traditional french cassoulet, made with several types of meat and beans.  This was a much lighter, vegetarian version that was made with cranberry beans (the type of bean changes depending on what is seasonal) and julienne cuts of smoked tofu (Hubby, a total non-tofu eater, even admitted that this was darn tasty!).  There were also a few shiitake to add a bit more meatiness, some small broccoli florets (not listed on the menu but much appreciated) and beautiful, seasonal green onion.  Thank goodness I made the last minute choice to order this dish, as it was my favorite of the evening and was the perfect dish to fill my belly with all of its "meaty" elements.  And, funny enough, meat-eater Hubby could not deny how great it was!

All in all, it was a lovely meal with a very impressive number of local elements.  A word of warning though- do not expect to be stuffed when you leave.  I am not saying that this is a bad thing, but it is just something to be aware of.  I think this is the ideal place to go for drinks and shared plates after having a big brunch or a late lunch when you just want a light meal.  With such a great food philosophy, I look forward to see what that this newly-opened restaurant has in store for local lovers like myself and so many other Vancouverites!

Burdock & Co. on Urbanspoon