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La Chaîne: Cask + Bruno

On this special night, I was invited to attend my very first Chaîne event, as the guest of long time members: Dennis and May of @pangcover. Chaîne des Rôtisseurs (full moniker) is an international gastronomic organization based in Paris, with chapters all over the world. The focus of the group is the appreciation of great food and wine, in the company of good friends. Based on the description of this exclusive club, I figured I would fit right in!

Members and guests alike pay for their tickets to exclusive events. The perks of being a member is the ability to attend one of a kind dinners and galas, and take part in the offerings not otherwise assessable.

This event happened to be their first after the more lax dining requirements have been announced, and as a result everyone was in more jovial spirits. I have yet to visit the new fine dining option in Richmond: Bruno, so was especially excited to have my first experience like this. Bruno is located in the new hotel property Versante, adjacent to the Richmond Night Market grounds.

But first there would be a reception at Cask (within the same property). This can be considered their lobby lounge with its own Whisky vault.

At Cask we were free to mix and mingle with other members, claiming the whole of the darkened space. It was dressed like a library study with mahagony wood and rich green leathers. But it was the circular room housing whiskies by county of origin that caught everyone’s attention. Where else can you be surrounded 360 by such fine spirits?

Guests were treated to a taste of one of these premium bottles. Snifters of Bruichladdich were offered neat or chilled over ice.

To pair with this, guests were invited to help themselves to one Beef tongue skewer marinated in a kabayaki sweet soya sauce, topped with sesame seeds and saffron; prepared by Cask staff. It was a lovely meaty morsel, but like the whisky taste, you were only allowed the one. I had my hand metaphorically slapped, when I reached out for another stick.

So instead, Dennis and I shifted our attention to Cask’s bar and had their dapper bartender crafting us two classic cocktails. Dennis’ go to is the Negroni. Negroni is an Italian cocktail, made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel

I went with the Cask Old Fashioned which was listed as your choice of bourbon, 13 spice demerara syrup, orange bitters, king cube, orange zest, and cherry.

Dinner was then called, and our troupe made our way towards Bruno, at the opposite entrance of Vasante. Here, their Executive Chef Will Lew treated Chaîne members and their guest to a unique menu created expressly for this occasion. Dinner was complemented by fine wines from the Chaîne cellar as selected by our Chef together with Chaîne Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique, Bob Charlton. (Chaîne members have titles and some have designations based on experience and expertise).

Seating was assigned with a table chart and place names. I would be seated with a lively bunch from all walks of life. From the moment we were seated, to our first pour of sparkling, we clinked glasses and declared our table the best. We were certainly the rowdiest.

The Bailly Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne Reserve from Franz was a light sparkling to help set the tone. This, and all our glasses to come, would be kept fulsome.

Our meal became with the most sumptuous pastry I have ever had. A flakey buttery round served with a foie gras butter, for self application. So delicious, so perfect, it definitely set the tone for the rest of 10 items to come.

Our fresh seafood course was served with 2021’s Misty Cove Estate series Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. This was a fruity yet sharp white, with the gentle sweetness of apples.

Fresh BC oysters done two ways. Raw with a preserved lemon mignonette, and northern devine caviar. As lovely as this was, it was but a tease. Each person only had a morsel each, with no ability to really satisfy or make out the freshness or sweetness of their oyster in half shell.

The second set was slightly cooked with a torched nduja Remoulade and ikura. This had a lovely smokey, creamy, and spicy quality. However, all the flavour masked any oyster flavour, and once again each bite Wasa too small to appreciate.

The Saffron shellfish platter was a free for all per group of four. A serving with mussels, clams, pink scallops, and fennel in a saffron vin blac sauce. Here, you can absolutely make out the freshness of the shellfish served in shell, accented by the fragrance of the crisp vegetable. The sauce was a creamy coconut curry, so tasty I had it like soup. I just wanted a side of spongy focaccia to dip into it, instead of the hard pita chosen.

Dinner got progressively heavier with the Kurobuta pork belly with a black garlic balsamic glaze and peppercorn lime aioli. The pork belly was fatty and lush. The fennel topping was critical in balancing out the dish, adding some brightness. Although the Spring burrata salad below served in conjunction, was also helpful in this regard.

Spring burrata salad with strawberries, fig, baby basil, pomegranate, candied walnuts, and a avocado purée. Our table described this as sunshine on a plate. As fresh and as tasty as all its bright colours looked. This was just fun to eat.

Our third course, family style share platter came with a 2018 Umberto Cesari Sangiovese Riserva from Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

The mains were a handsome assortment for four. Incredibly tender, perfectly pink Bone-in ribeye Oscar with bearnaise, crab, and red wine jus. The creamy seafood topping was like the icing on a succulent meat cake.

The the Truffle lavender duck with foie gras was my favourite. Lean duck meat with a terrific smokey nuance, accented by flambé apricots, confit duck croquettes, candied hazelnut crumb, and duck glace. I wished I had the full serving of this, and not just one fatty strip.

The sides paired with our proteins were perfectly chosen classics. The truffle potatoes gave you potatoe all ways. Crispy, mashed, and firm; smashed and fried with a garlic truffle butter, Parmesan, and a green peppercorn aioli.

The Crispy Brussels sprouts were dreamy and had you eating your greens with gusto. Prepared with marcona almonds, Calabrian chilli, and Parmesan.

To finish, our classic dinner ended with a classic dessert. Creamy and rich with fine ingredients. A Rustic tiramisu with vanilla cream, espresso infused savoiardi, cocoa, and chocolate shavings.

Served with the Castello del Poggio Moscato from Pavia, Italy. If there ever was a dessert wine this is it. It drank like candy and was even sweeter than the second dessert below.

Our meal concluded with the spectacle of Anti griddle made ice cream popsicles. Dabs of flavoured cream flash frozen in the dining room and topped with a strawberry gel. Not sweet, more milky and tangy from the fruit purée than creamy.

Our meal ended with thank you speeches and an award of our Executive Chef Will slew. After each Chaîne dinner the chef is awarded a commemorative plaque in appreciation.

In conclusion, this was such an amazing experience that I very quickly put forward my name for future membership! In writing this review I have earned my entry grade of Dame de la Chaîne. Where my papers and official Chaîne ribbon of membership will be presented to me at their annual gala dinner! So stay tuned for more reviews of such extraordinary events.

Bruno at the Versante Boutique Hotel
8499 Bridgeport Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1R7
(604) 242-2750
clubversante.com/bruno

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