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Fairmont Waterfront, Summer Dinner Series

As I reported on during my last visit to Fairmont Waterfront, the hotel will be hosting a summer dinner series on their roof. A lovely oasis in the city, sandwiched between the hotel’s pool and garden. The latter of which is where they grow and harvest their own vegetables, and host hives where they collect honey for their own line of hotel gin.

The Garden Dinner series will be held on three evenings; Thursday, June 20, Thursday, July 18, and Thursday, August. Tickets are $185 plus tax and gratuity.

Labeled as an enchanted garden experience it not only includes dinners, but an interactive cocktail reception and the opportunity to learn about both the crops of the garden and the bees of the hives that you stand amongst.

We were given a preview of this, but our time first started at their lobby hotel restaurant Arc for some champagne and oysters. From Monday to Friday from 6 to 9pm at ARC’s Chef’s Bench guests can enjoy an exclusive (only 8 seats available) wine and oyster experience. A curated library collection of BC wines available by the glass or as flights, and a selection of 5 coastal oyster that vary nightly. The after live shucked in front of you at the bench.

All the oysters are on ice, each labelled so you know what you are tasting. I had an Apex oyster which was sweet, the Lighthouse oyster was salty, and the Irish Points more on the briney side. All of which paired well with the citrus forward glass of their sparkling wine that welcomed guests.

A few bite in, we were led up the elevator to their third floor. A trail that cut through the hotel’s gym and spa, then past the pool with its downtown roof top view, bee-lining to a clearing of green.

Here, live music sets the tone as we were ushered to the cocktail presentation. You begin with a cocktail featuring the hotel’s exclusive gin made in partnership with Wayward Distillers from Vancouver Island. This is a honey gin made with honey harvested from the aforementioned hives. Each glass finished with a spritz and a light from a flame. It was a very easy, sweet sipping cocktail, where honey is the star. We all found it a great way to warm the mood and our appetites.

With drink in hand guests get a hands-on garden and bee tour by the resident head gardener Carissa Kasper and the chief beekeeper, Julia Common. Majority of the vegetables are harvested by the Arc kitchen staff with a message of sustainability and appreciation for how long it takes to cultivate. There isn’t enough to feed all their restaurant patrons, so what they can’t grow themselves they reach out to a local organic farm for.

Dawning a bee keeper shroud, we then got a close look at a bee hive and how to smoke the bees to make them docile. Our resident bee keeper then removed a hive screen to reveal a sea of buzzing honey bees.

For those daring, we were also able to pet them and hold them in our hands. A very empowering experience, as many of us are prone to running away from bees when they hover. Worth mentioning is this showing is available daily at the hotel, at 3pm.

As guests continued to mingle, learn, and explore we were tempted with canapés designed by Fairmont Waterfront’s culinary team. To start there was a tangy tomato based gazpacho in a shot glass that helped to open up the appetite.

The Bison carpaccio on a potato chip was great foreshadowing of the quality of food to come for dinner.

In a similar sense, the whole morel over caramelized onion and ricotta cheese set on a cucumber slice spoke to the premium ingredients that would be featured during dinner.

And the tuna ceviche over a beat chip is from their luxury seafood tower, giving you a tease of that experience.

When time, guests were invited to take their seats at a long table pre-set with fresh picked wild flowers, woven straw chargers, and flameless candles to really cultivate the scene.

For those interested in the process, all the dishes to come would be assembled adjacent, to ensure the food would be served hot and fresh. This is a multiple course dinner by ARC executive chef, Adam Middleton, with wine pairings by some of the Okanagan’s top wine producers. Each dinner a different winery, bringing the flavours of summer in British Columbia to the table.

Tonight that would be Burrowing Owl from Oliver, BC. Starting with their 2021 Chardonnay. This was a dry and tart, almost briney wine to pair with the caviar and to contrast and perk up the sweetness of the rest of the first course.

Honey and shallot tartlet with caramelized onion and honey from the the hives. This was a strong start, continuing to lean into the bee theme, even more so with the honey comb patterned charred tuille. The butter crust was the perfect vessel to carry the sumptuous honey, the only gently acidic pickled carrot, and the finery of the caviar. A well balanced two bites with a wonderful aftertaste to linger on.

The next course was so simple, yet so delicious. Simply labelled as asparagus, this is Asparages from Hanna Brook Farms (where the hotel sources all their salads and greens), cooked on grill for a minute and not blanched. Then topped with quail egg, hollandaise, and generous slices of truffle. Like a light vegetarian take on egg Benedict, but without the English muffin. Best warm to capture all the roasted flavours. This was such a clean and deliciously refined plate.

This was paired with the 2022 Burrowing Owl Sauvignon Blanc. It was bright with white peach and other barely rippened stone fruit. The dry tart wine added some brightening acidity to the asparagus and heavy hollandaise.

Our wine speaker of the night went into detail on how this wasn’t a New Zealand or Californian wine. And that it gets a good agitated stirring in the wine barrel during the fermentation process, which is called bâtonnage. The result is a sweeter wine that has the familiar scent of a Gewurztraminer, but is a lot more tart by comparison.

In between courses we got to one of their reds. Not designed to pair with our meal, but our wine speaker thought it would be a shame to not have one of Burrowing Owl’s reds within the line up. So he uncorked their aged 2017 merlot in a Magnum bottle. It had a freshness and acidity with notes of red cherry and strawberry. I enjoyed it on its own, and definitely not as a part of the rest of the meal. The lightness of the courses would have been drowned out by the red.

We were then back to our regularly scheduled 4 courses with Halibut Cheeks, described as having the consistency of chicken and scallop. The texture was so gentle and light, buttery on the lips, it ran parallel to the spring pea risotto with morels in a mint sauce. The risotto was little on the salty side, the sweet peas and mint added freshness to the heavy rice. Although I would have preferred the peas cooked softer to match the overall textural profile of the dish.

For dessert there was more honey. Bay Creme Caramel with honey roasted peach blackberry and honeycomb. Honey tuille and honey comb, and honey lavender from the garden for the gelato. The dessert had a wonderful, creamy butterscotch flavour over the texture of panna cotta. The candy comb added a crispy element and pops of sugar to perk up bites. Even the pansy was edible, adding on a grassy kick to the dish.

Our wine pairing here was the Wild Goose, Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2019, from the Okanagan. It has less residual sugars than ice wine, offering hints of spice and rose water to help wash the palate clean.

In short this was a lovely dinner series and a great way to experience the diversity of what BC offers, all on the rooftop in the heart of downtown Vancouver. I highly recommend this experience for the visuals alone. Get your tickets below.

As per the press release, this “dinner series will take new heights as Fairmont Waterfront, along with industry partners presents a unique alfresco dining series at the hotel’s rooftop garden venue. Set amidst a canopy of twinkling lights and meticulously manicured gardens, each dinner party in the series promises an evening of culinary delights and thematic immersion. From themed menus inspired by seasonal ingredients to curated beverage selections that tantalize the palate, guests will be transported to a whimsical world of nature’s bounty and gastronomy.”


ARC Restaurant
900 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 3L5

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