Pacific Northwest fare with French influences in Yaletown. This one has been on the list for a while. So just being in the neighbourhood and being hungry lead us here. Located in Gastown, the restaurant looked and felt the part.
Walking in, there is plenty of room in the foyer. The host at his booth greets you under a lighting piece created from light bulbs in mason jars. From here your seating is available across several options. Stools at the bar, narrow tables on the second floor, or booths towards the back of the restaurant, by the washrooms.
We were happy enough sitting at a high top betwixt the kitchen and the bar. Surrounding us there wasn’t any art work or really any decorative elements, but there was enough visual interest in their industrial elements, supporting the room. Red brick walls, a wood plank staircase, metal detailing, and their black and white tiled patterned feature.
The bar on our right was a conversation starter, a wave of zig zag shelves showcasing glasses and bottles for use. It was dimly lit by tea lights in cocktail glasses and additional low hanging mason jars lamps over the bar. Some of these glass jars were short and stout, others tall and lean; all came with their metal lids screwed on tight.
And to our left, if we arched our backs we got a good glance into their kitchen; past the tiled wall separating their busy back of house operations from us and our stillness. There, the battalion of chefs in white were steady in their craft, they hardly spoke, but moved with perfect communication. It made the meal to come all the more anticipatory.
Interestingly the menu was divided into “cold” and “hot” small plates and full “mains”. What little I know of fine French cuisine was present, minus the more stereotypical frog legs and escargot. Tartare, pāté, and sweetbreads. Though they also had more modern renditions of more familiar proteins to reflect their Pacific Northwest influence. Entrees like beef tenderloin in marrow butter, seared scallops and chicken wings, pacific ling cod, and stuffed lamb loin. Nothing read as second best, which made ordering all the more difficult.
I was thrilled to have our meal start with a complimentary bowl of bread. As it may be expected, our dishes to come were smaller in size. I find French cuisine rich with flavours, hidden in smaller parcels. So these heavily seasoned and perfectly toasted sesame and herbed crispy sheets, the fluffy buns topped with smoked crumbled bacon, and the buttery flaky twists; were a greatly appreciated start.
The “Torchon of duck foie gras with preserved fruit, yogurt, and sour brioche” was a pretty plate. Refined simplicity in small, self curated bites. The contrasting flavours just went; you found what you were missing in one, in the others. Salty paste, cooling cream, and sour cherries. After the first bite I understood the ratio of given bread to pāté. The meat paste was pretty mild, it could a have done with a more salt, but a heaping serving on each chewy crostini sufficed.
The “Grilled squid stuffed with pork and herbs” was an intricate plate. It had several elements that kept each morsel interesting in different tastes and textures. Like the crunchy crusted potato with a mashed centre, the zesty mint, the refreshing cucumber, and the salty squid ink. I would have liked more cucumber chunks to break up the heaviness of the stuffed squid sections, especially with the light vinaigrette they were coated in. I also would have preferred the squid not breaded, as after each bite the taste of oil lingered in my mouth.
“Assiette of suckling pig with grilled sauerkraut, potato, and mustard”. Our server recommend this over the duck breast roasted on the bone, as it was the largest portion of food on their menu. The word, “assiette”was described to us as being various parts of the pig depending by week and what they get in. Today it was pork belly, pork chop, marinated ham, and braised pork in milk. The pork belly was naturally fatty and easily tender. It was salty, without necessarily being flavourful, and therefore would have been better with some rice. The braised pork was light, though it was missing depth in flavour. It would have been better as an accompaniment, like a topping on brioche or a filling in a sweet bun. The ham was chewier and more heartier than regular processed meat. It’s brininess went well with the pickled and charred cabbage. The pork chop was the best preparation out of the three. It had a full bodied sauce enrobing it and you could tasted the charcoal of a hot grill scoring the meat. Though overall we agreed we would have preferred a serving of Chinese style barbecue pork instead; wherein we would have gotten more for less.
When the staff attended to us they were all courteous and polite. Each plate came out with a directed run through of its elements. Though throughout our meal no one checked in on how our food was or came to see if we needed anything. Although they were not to blame as there were no servers tending to our awkward table, other than the host who had another job to do and the bartender who was crafting cocktails for the whole restaurant.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I love the beauty of these French inspired plates and appreciate that its all about the flavour. But being a more bang for your buck girl, I truly missed the quantity. Eating like this is definitely how some women stay thin. Small portions and satisfying servings, though it all left me still hungry and craving pizza after. Everything was good, but it just didn’t hit the spot. This would be nice as a first date option where small plates mean polite eating. But, sadly we came from heavy drinking and wanted grease to coat our bellies. I would come back if invited, but not voluntary nor would I suggest it. I felt like I paid for the beauty of the plate, not the food on it. Though I am sure that they used the finest ingredients and that doesn’t often come cheap. Don’t deny your cravings.