Saturday 1 April 2017

West-Coast Cuisine with Peruvian and Japanese Flair at Ancora

Ancora, which replaced "C" restaurant a year and a half ago, puts an interesting twist on the typical West Coast cuisine that is so common around Vancouver with a Peruvian/Japanese twist.  While such "fusion" cuisine is sometimes a recipe for disaster, Ancora pulls it off like a pro.  On our first visit, we sampled their sushi, while on the second visit we enjoyed their Peruvian tasting menu (on for the month of March).  Both meals were fantastic, so clearly they do both very well.

Atmosphere: Located right on False Creek, it is a beautiful walk from Kits or Yaletown.  It is situated right on the false creek seawall, with beautiful views of the water from their big front windows.  We cannot wait to check out their beautiful patio in the summer.  There are two floors to the restaurant, and I would recommend asking for the bottom floor when booking for the nicest views.   It is a very busy spot, so I recommend asking early as I suspect the window seats go fast.  The decor is upscale, moreso than most places in Vancouver, but not uptight.  Whether you arrive in formalwear, business casual attire or jeans and a t-shirt, you will be in good company.

Service:  I called the day before to request a change to the main course of the tasting menu to accommodate my pescatarian dietary requirement which the chef kindly agreed to.  When we arrived, we were swiftly escorted to our table and within moments of being seated, had water and a delicious assortment of bread.  Our server was very efficient and knowledgeable about both our tasting menu's food and wine pairings, and quickly had us going on our tasting menu adventure.  The 5 tasting menu dishes came out in fairly rapid sequence, with only 5-10 minutes between dishes even with the very full dining room.  They clearly have the kitchen running very efficiently.  The whole service was like a well-oiled machine.

Food and Drink:  I appreciated how all the wines on the tasting menu all from the Okanagan which was a nice local contrast to the Peruvian menu.  Some selections from more well-known wineries (Mission Hill, Cedar Creek) while others were from much smaller wineries that I had not heard of, that are only distributed to restaurants.  The tasting menu pairings were well worth it, and quite a deal at 50$, with a champagne, 2 lovely and contrasting whites, a bold red and a dessert wine.

In terms of the food, and would first off like to commend Ancora for doing a tasting menu (quite rare in Vancouver!).  It as a very well composed menu, not overly filling (quality over quantity) made with local ingredients jazzed up with Peruvian flavours.  It was unique, exciting and delicious.

Assorted breads with homemade hummus (no pic)

Amuse- potato and tuna

Papa a la Huancaina- Local potatoes, olive, quail egg, smoked huancaina, herring caviar, kale (aka the perfect winter dish!)

Steelhead Trout "Anticucho"- Cilantro pumpkin, pico de gallo, skin chicharron

Hot Stone Squid and Prawn Ceviche- Calamari, Peruvian chilies, miso, nori puffs

Short Rib Seco-  Peruvian quinoa, pickled shallots, bean purre, baby carrots (also delicious with the ling cod they substituted for me)

Picarones- Almonds, spices ice cream, dulce de leche

Overall Verdict?  
The Peruvian tasting menu was unique, satisfying and delicious, and I really hope that they plan to continue it into April.  Ancora shines in all respect, from its smart decor, to its polished service, to its exciting and varied menu.  Based on my visits, you cannot go wrong with either its raw food bar or its main menu, or, ideally, a mix of both.  I predict that Ancora will quickly rise to the top of the Vancouver food scene, as it rightly should!

Ancora Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato