There aren’t many fine dining options in Richmond, and with the closures of restaurants and the need to separate, that specific genre of the restaurant industry has seen better days. Lacking in the opportunity to dress to impress and enjoy small plates with fine wine, I was thrilled to learn that Richmond’s only French fine dining option was reopening and would be featuring a new winter menu that I would be able to try the bulk of.
And given the lack of patrons dining in and the need to separate, it definitely felt like we rented out the whole restaurant, which easily lent itself to the grandeur of our experience.
The new menu is set up like a pick your own adventure. Three course with multiple choices, I recommend dining with your bubble buddy to be able to try more. They call it their “Table d’Hôte” option. $65 gets you your choice of one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert. The following are a few options within each category.
Although first you are encouraged to start your experience by ordering some shareables to pair with wine. Origo Club is better known for their wine selection. French vintages from all the wine producing areas in France. A healthy collection that reaches from affordable to luxury; all thanks to the exuberant owner and well travelled wine connoisseur, Woody. Woody himself often tends to the restaurant’s customers. And this evening we had him pouring bottles himself, regaling us in stories of where he found the wine and what he likes about it. It and he definitely elevated the experience and fed my desire to be wined and dined. Naturally we started with a glass of sparkling to mark the celebration.
Warm focaccia is brought to the table to start. Where most figure it to be a starter to tide you over for the food to come. Bread at French restaurants is actually mention to sop up sauces, to be dipped into soups, and to be used as a base for certain dishes. It is replaced if you should finish a serving, with the intention that you should be frugal with your consumption of it.
We started off with the best oysters I have had to date, so clean and fresh. Kushi oysters served with a classic French style champagne mignonette, horseradish, and lemon. Deliciously sweet as is, and given some depth with the dressings above.
The charcuterie was a lovely gathering, fine cured meats and pickles to nibble on and wet the appetite with. You can see and taste the quality of the two types of spiced and thinly sliced meats, but it just didn’t have the same pageantry as the share plate above or below. So I would recommend this the least.
Our six snails served in lemon, garlic, and parsley butter was done authentically, and we were giving the proper accoutrement to best tackle them. A specialized pair of tongs to select and place each shell gingerly on your plate, and a tiny two pronged fork to make quick work of removing chewy morsel from shell. I am not typically a fan of snails due to their similarities with slugs. As a mental component I find it harder to swallow (purposeful pun). But with these well buttered and herbaceous snails, I had no issue eating my three with gusto. Here, the slightly sweetened focaccia proved instrumental in catching all that extra buttery goodness.
Next course is your small plates. Our first course was paired with a light white, a great choice given all the seafood present. You get a choice between four different options when going with the set menu priced at $65 for three courses. A roasted tomato and seafood soup with sole, prawns, and squid. Or a salad with poached prawns. We had the scallops and foie gras below, and I would recommend you do the same.
Pan fried scallops with cauliflower purée, pickled cauliflower and jalapeño, and green apple. The butteriness of the scallop was best highlighted by the contrast of the tart and tangy ingredients surrounding it. Here, less is more and two ideal in leaving you wanting more.
For something more decadent, look to the pan fried duck foie gras, with an Asian pear salad and cherry jus. Here, the fruit lifted the density of the fatty duck liver. I enjoyed it better over bread and as a spread.
You too have a choice between four for your entree. Here would indulge in all four, so I can safely recommend the steak with truffles and the pasta with truffles as my favourite two. Though all four are great with red. Naturally, for such a heavy course our host of the evening served us a fuller bodied red. One of the many he has scoured from France, scouring North to South for.
The cassoulet is a classic French dish. Duck leg confit over a bed of white beans and Toulouse and veal sausage, and carrots with celery in a tomato sauce. If you are looking to be stuffed, this is definitely the largest entree and the most filling. I personally am not a fan, given the beans. I am not a fan of beans given their texture, plus found the duck meat on the drier side, despite its good crisp, (as per its standard execution). This dish is simply just not for me.
Looking for something light for your main? Then lean towards to shoyu-glazed sablefish with maitake mushroom, and basil spinach in a shiitake broth. The white fish is so tender that you can practically drink it, much like the broth that sips like soup. Soothing and comforting this clean and straightforward classic best highlights the buttery fish with a good amount of saltines.
Dishes get heavier with the steak. Striploin steak with black truffle, accompanied by roasted king oyster mushroom, a basil spinach salad, and a cherry jus. I did find the steak on the tougher side, but the softer mushroom and thicker sauce did help to tenderize it. And the thin slices of truffle helped to gloss all the above over with its ability to heighten the umami flavour of the anything it touches.
But hands down, my favourite dish of the night and the one I would recommend most, and go back for is the truffle tagliatelle with morel mushroom, in a truffle cream sauce. As a new found fungi enthusiast, the ability to enjoy the hard sought after truffle and morel mushrooms fresh and hearty like this, in one serving was incredibly satisfying. Not to mention the instant lusciousness of the chewy noodles and heavy cream were spot on.
Last course is dessert with a choice between three options, including a fresh fruit sorbet that changes every day. We didn’t have any of that; but if we did, it would have been black currant for the day. Instead, we had their panna cotta and espresso brownie. The former was flavoured in vanilla with only a slight nuance of rum, and plenty of orange flavour. It is basically a cross between jello and pudding in texture, with the snap of the caramel-like flavoured tuile topping it for crunch.
For the chocolate lovers the chocolate and espresso brownie, made with their own house bean is the way to go. Not too sweet, the moist brownie is paired with a nice peppery earl grey and some candied nuts for contrast. I am not a big fan of chocolate myself, but found this dessert, with its sides, just splendid.
For those who like to drink their dessert, I highly recommend this sake. A yuzu forward batch that had me thinking of a beautiful lemon meringue pie. Much like their wine program, Origo’s owner, Woody is working on cultivating a just as impressive sake collection to match.
But you cannot leave without trying their coffee. Day or night, a cup made with their own cultivated and roasted beans is a must try. Origo has its own roastery in China. And the large latte I was enjoying right before bed was made using an award winning blend of three beans. It was so full bodied and flavourful with good crema, that I had to bring a bag of it home with me. And luckily me, our visit coincided with the delivery of a fresh batch.
In short, for those looking for a change of quarantine pace, or are looking to celebrate an occasion quietly and privately, I can safely recommend Origo for a good time.
6888 River Rd #110, Richmond, BC V7C 0B5