Tonight I was at Versante Hotel, here to check out their newest dining experience. Acre is the new farm to table restaurant that has taken over the space once held by their high tea concept, and I think it is a much better fit. Not only is it quintessential Vancouver, but it also speaks to the caliber of the chefs at the property and the produce and proteins available to the province.
At the time of my visit, they had only been open for 3-4 months and were introducing their second set menu. And in the time of me writing this, I have already purchased tickets to one of their upcoming long table dinners with wine pairings. Definitely deeming it worth it after this tasting.
The hotel property owns their own farm on Cortez Island, which they have named Acre. Like the fresh produce they use in their dishes, their name comes from the farm. And for everything else they partner with local producers like Fanny Bay.
I appreciated that the work of art on the walls spoke to this partnership with the land, showcasing the ingredients that are common in their cuisine. They are especially fond of lavender, and proud of the fields that yields enough for them to have as decoration on their plates.
The aforementioned set menu is best paired with carefully selected wine so I started with the Bench 1775 Pinot Gris to be partnered with the first two courses. Hailing from Naramata Bench the wine was fruity and smokey with ruby red grapefruit and stone fruit. A nice light start to whet the appetite.
The first course was titled “Snacks”, a collection of 4 one bite morsels. We were luckily to have the chef present majority of the courses to us, and as a result I was able to inquire as to the order of eating he recommended. Starting from the lightest to the heaviest.
The Foie Gras was not heavy for something known to be rich. This was made lighter with the sweetness of strawberry and the refreshing notes of rhubarb. I also got a hint of floral from the use of lavender.
The Spot Prawn Taco included finger lime, avocado crema, and serrano. The fresh spot prawn with its gentle sweetness was able to shine amongst the simple and clean, classic flavours of a citrus forward ceviche.
The Roti was Chinese/Indonesian style roti stuffed with truffle, herb neufchatel, and birch syrup. It ate like a filled doughnut hole. A centre of herb cheese with plenty of seasonings. Sadly I did not get as much of the summer truffle as I had wanted or hoped for.
And saving the best of last was the Eggs Nest or eggs 4 ways: “deviled egg”, masago, trout RCC caviar, and katafi. The crispy woven nest was a great contrast for all the texture. Textures from the jelly-like boiled whites to the creamy pops of the fish roe, following though to the distinct brininess of their in-house caviar. A wonderfully fun concept well executed into a delightful dish.
As impressed as I was with the first, I was even more taken in by the second course. And truth be told, this was the way it was to be course after course. I thought I had found my favourite, only to try and fall for the one that came next.
The second course was titled “Tomato” with a thai basil sorbet, silken tofu, lime dressing, and an aged fish sauce. Served with charcoal foccacia drizzled over with a balsamic reduction. The textures of this really sang. The silken tofu, the juicy sweet tomatoes, and the herbaceous tang of the chilled sorbet and its pesto quality. Coming all together on crunchy toasted bread that was a striking juxtaposition in black to the vibrant colours of the would be salad course.
For our third and fourth courses to come we had the Little Engine Chardonnay as our wine pairing. Also from Naramata Bench, the grapes for this was hand harvested in 2021. This was a creamy smooth white with the undertone of lemon curd, making its citrus a nice pairing with the following seafood course.
Scallop & Kohlrabi with buttermilk yuzu kosho, bubu arare, and pickled sea asparagus. The use of the kohlrabi was such an interesting take on noodles. The texture was firm yet soften, resembling tagliatelle. Smooth on the lips and crunchy on the teeth. If all vegetable based noodles were this good, I could skip gluten and pasta all together. They were definitely the highlight in this for me, despite fully enjoying how buttery the scallop was and the fragrant sake in the sauce.
The next course was all about “Corn” and this one was fun, despite the lack lustre presentation. I could have used a sprig of something or some cracked pepper to add some depth to the sheet of pasta covering chanterelles, chorizo, cotija, and tajin. This is Mexican inspired and a unique way to enjoy the popular smokey charred and creamy cheese corn.
We missed out the option, but I highly suggest that if you decide to go, take advantage of the ability to add on 5 grams of Australian black truffle to this dish for $20 more. The plate is already so tasty with premium chanterelle mushroom, I can only image where fresh truffle takes this.
For course number five and six it was suppose to be the Painted Rock Red Icon from the Okanagan Valley for wine, but they were out during my visit. The goal was to pair the courses to come with a full and structured BC inspired Bordeaux style blend. So in order to replace it, we were given the Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon. Similarly, this was a full bodied wine, dark with berry fruit and hints of vanilla. The richness of this would befriend the wagyu dish below well.
Course number five was Fried Steelhead Trout with cucumber gazpacho, apple, watercress, and dill yogurt. The fish was dried for a week then cured for one hour, before being marinated in buttermilk. And all this work translated well into the flavours of the fish. Crispy fish skin and firm vegetables coupled with the freshness of dill and the notable cucumber and apple in the gespacho all jibed well.
Next we had the 36 hour Brant Lake Wagyu Zabuton with potato foam, courgette, radishes, okanagan cherry, and red wine jus. This was a visual treat, art for the plate and the palate. Tender steak partnered with a mashed potato that was so smooth and rich that it ate like soup. Its heaviness balanced out by the crisp vegetables and the sweetness from the cherries.
And for dessert we had Mission Hill Riesling Ice Wine to pair. From the Okanagan Valley this ice wine is sweet with the following fruit: citrus, ripe pear, pineapple, and hints of orange peel. So sweet and creamy in the mouth, this very much so drank like a liquid dessert.
To play off the fruits in the ice wine we had a Grilled Peach Patisserie with cereal milk semifreddo, raspberry gel, chiffon cake, and almond “dirt”. All the ingredients looked apart, but together they were something special. Country classics of sweet preservatives and comforting flavours.
In closing I enjoyed my meal and highly recommend this it and its wine pairings to anyone who loves quality food. The weakest dish was dessert, and only because everything else was so amazing and I am not a big sweets person. Be sure to make their acquaintance yourself by purchasing a ticket to their IWBC Wine Dinner at ACRE on August 30th, 2023. Link below.
Acre Through The Seasons
8400 West Rd #115, Richmond, BC V6X 0S7