This ain’t no story~
You walk along West 4th and a large restaurant window filled with quick moving bodies catches your eye. This is “Fable”, a new restaurant built where “Fuel” and “Refuel” use to live. Much has changed in the last two years. You are free to stand on the sidewalk and watch as masterful chefs bring organic and local proteins and vegetables together, or you can come in and experience their vibrant as whimsical dishes in person.
“From farm to table” is their slogan, and they take their theme seriously. This idea is the brain child of Trevor Bird, a contestant on “Top Chef Canada”, season 2. (I am a food network junkie). The idea came on an episode where contestants had to come up with a restaurant concept to wow the judges. Farm fresh “Fable” was Trevor’s. He returned home, and by the looks of it was able to successfully turn this idea into reality.
They offer top quality foods without any pretentions that may accompany it. You are made to feel right at home with a grounded decor and a staff that delivers in casual comfort.
The owners of “Fable” have chosen a theme and have really committed. I have never been to a farm before, but if I did I imagine it would have a lot of what I saw here.
The surrounding walls are brick with reclaimed wood beams, it gives the restaurant a rustic barn look. The back wall resembles a large chalk board done with much skill and paint. It looks like a chalk drawing of vegetables thriving in a garden: beet tops, corn husks, and lettuce leaves. Over parts of it are back lit pictures of wholesome farm scenes: barb wire, wooden bridges, and old leaning trees. Hand made wooden shelves store decorative bottles of wine. On another sits a collect of odds and ends that one would find at a farm house: a rusted saw, a large wire whisk, a blackened oil can, and an old timey egg beater that looks like a mid evil torture device. The classic mansion jar for preserving, sits on every table, protecting a lone tea light. Each table, unvarnished wood tops paired with dark wooden chairs. And my favourite, a chandelier crafted from the criss crossing of three pitch forks, centers the room. Where we were, all these em elements came together to give us the perfect lighting for pictures on a iPhone, without flash.
The only part of this collection that really didn’t fit the theme were three pieces of abstract, colourful art done on white canvas. I did not take away from how great everything looked though. I also appreciate an establishment that puts the full effort into every part of their building. Here the washrooms were done nice with bark waste paper baskets, a regal stone sink, and a toilet paper dispenser crafted from a faux antler.
The space is small. Narrowly placed tables and chairs make it feel like there are more bodies present than there actually is. Tonight’s crowd was a jovial one, loud voices announced celebrations with hardy laughter and tiny pings of glasses touching. The menu was a one pager, and helped the kitchen keep the ingredients fresh, and the plates churning quickly out of the kitchen. I liked their idea to date stamping them. The inky date indicated when the menu was crafted and how long a certain dish has been offered for. Since dinner is prepared from scratch, made from local ingredients that arrive right at their door; they need to be reactive to what ingredients they have on hand and utilize them to make top caliber meals, worthy of their slogan.
This was proof of the freshness of the experience you were getting.The main menu was dated May 23rd, and the additional one page add on was for today, May 29th.
When our main server noticed my menu got a little wet, she immediately reclaimed it in order to offer me a new dry one. I didn’t know it yet, but this was a sign on the level of customer service they provide every night.
Appetizers came fast.
“Gazpacho Caesar” with bacon, vodka, pickled celery, and horseradish. Being a huge Caesar fan, I had to give this spin on my classic favourite a try. This was half drink half soup. Thicker than a drink and twice as cold. You have to like your soups cold to enjoy this. It was interesting but not something that merited a repeat order. I don’t like chewing my alcohol.
When asked, I was honest with one of the three servers that waited on us. I did not like the “Gazpacho Caesar”. Without hesitation she offered to take it off our bill and buy us dessert. She explained, it was simple, she sincerely wanted our dinner to be great. Later she came back to inform us that the batch we got was made with an incorrect balance of vodka to soup, and therefore was off putting to most, as we were not the only table to send ours back. I was impressed that she took the time to come back to our table to thank us for the honest feedback as well as explaining the situation. She went on further to say, had we not done so they would have never caught the issue. Faith was restored in the soup, and all the cooking done at “Fable”. And now I would come back to try it in this case. The whole episode made my night. I dare say it is the best service I have ever had.
I was sold on the “Canned tuna” appetizer the very moment our main server mentioned it was their “signature dish”. The menu promised it to be the best canned tuna you have ever had, in quotes. The fish was served in a mason jar over fingerling potatoes, coated in olive oil and other spices. We were given instructions before embarking on our interactive first course. You mix in the teaspoon of salt then begin to mash and fold until the lot of it resembles canned tuna. You work for your meal, which was no easy task. The container was a little too small for ease of stirring, my guest was going rather slow at it, trying not to splatter anything off the sides. Though as troublesome as this may have seemed, I am glad it did not come pre mixed, as it would not have looked as appetizing. By the end of it we were smearing on chunky baby food on to hard crustinis. The buttery taste was an excellent compliment to the toasted bread. Just wish we had more crustini to eat along side the saltier mash.
This night they were out of trout so we settled on “Halibut”. It was prepared with a chorizo bouillabaisse, mussels, polenta crouton, and a parsley crust. A sheet of parsley laying off centre to the pure white fish, gave this dish an artistic appeal. With help from the halibut and mussels the broth was given a rich warm seafood flavour. The corn meal polenta sat at the bottom, below the fish; it soaked up all the sauce from both sides like a delicious sponge. The vegetables added a crunch component, and the spiciness came from the meatballs. A very hearty dish considering it was fish.
“Duck breast” over a rhubarb and caramelize onion tart, with creamed cabbage and an apple purée on the side. This was such a luxurious and unique dish, my guest let out a “wow” at first bite. This was a savory entree made sweet; with assistance from the apple, sweet onion, and rhubarb. Even the cabbage tasted candied. We were impressed to discover that the tart was literal and made with an flaky crust. This is nothing you have tasted, and something you would go back to rediscover. Great textures and complimentary components. A scrumptious blend of savory brown sauce and sweet apple purée. Amazing how the chefs were able to make soggy cabbage and bitter rhubarb taste this good.
“Lemon meringue parfait”, the usual suspects in this homespun pie, with the addition of streusel and tarragon ice cream. The tart lemon gel was offset by the sweetness of the beautifully browned fluffy meringue. In the middle, hidden, was the ice cream slowly melting over the crunchy streusel. The tarragon was mild and added no real interrupting flavour to the parfait. Over all the beautiful presentation was worth the difficulty in eating. After a spoonful or two we deflated the dessert and had to quickly scoop up thick meringue from dripping down the sides.
To round up, I was enamored with the level of customer service the staff at “Fable” provided. We were well taken care of by all three ladies working the floor. They checked in on us and saw to it that we enjoyed every part of our meal. The parts where we didn’t, we were offered solutions to rectify the situation. This was done without us having to press for it or even suggest it. How refreshing to be put first. Each waitress possessed great energy and was happy to go into detail over the food. I asked for suggestions and explanations over menu items. Not only did they added clarity but sold me on them as well. And for those reasons alone I will be coming back. Not even mentioning how delicious the food was. I enjoyed every creamy bite knowing it was made with the best ingredients and I was putting good healthy foods into my belly.
Would I recommend it? – Absolutely. I was awestruck over the decor, swept off my feet by the staff, and given an experience close to angelic with the food. There was nothing I did not enjoy about tonight. And if the line ups were any indication, most of Vancouver felt the same way. Don’t deny your cravings to sample what the best of the farms have to offer.
1944 West 4th, Vancouver BC, V6J 1M5