As one of the newest members of La Chaîne, the Vancouver chapter I have been signing up for each of the monthly meet ups, as a way to meet all the members and get better acclimated to the organization that appreciates fine food and wine, globally.
The latest dinner brought us to L’Abbatoir in Gastown, for what the restaurant describes as “Pacific Northwest cuisine with a French touch”. They are known as a destination restaurant, not only for locals, but as a must visit for gourmands travelling from around the world as well.
We were directed to the back of the restaurant and gathered in their annex, a test kitchen and private event space. Guests were seated across two long tables with name cards and individual menus. This particular dinner was two years in the making, after covid put the world on standstill. So there was much anticipation for this long awaited Chaîne des Rôtisseurs fine dining event, at one of Vancouver’s most celebrated restaurants. And a first on all accounts for me.
The evening began with the customary “bubbles” of sparkling from the Chaîne cellar. A great way to start the night and get the conversation flowing as we mingled during the reception portion of the evening.
This was then followed by a special menu custom-designed by Chef Cooper. Each dish was accompanied by a fine wine from L’Abattoir’s cellar. Worth noting is that the first menu item is available on the regular menu, but the others after it were not.
The Baked Pacific oyster is like oyster motoyaki with summer truffle and whipped garlic butter. Presented in shell, you don’t see the actual oyster as it is concealed by a thick layer of cream that masks the actual flavour and texture of the oyster. I like my oysters raw and want to taste them fully. This was delicious as far as a baked oyster goes, but for that very reason I tend not to be a fan of them. It was smokey with so much depth that it is hard to pin point and describe. The entire room was certainly a buzz with what they had. Although, it would have been nice to have two smaller portions to be able to try one and then go back to really taste what you are getting with the other.
Our first course was paired with Tantalus’ 2018 Chardonnay, Blanc de Noir from the Okanagan Valley.
The Barely cooked spring salmon was another crowd pleaser. This is definitely one of the best salmon dishes I have ever had (not including the coho we caught and cooked ourselves). Fresh caught and butchered in the morning, the salmon fillets are lighted salted and coated in brown sugar. It is left on skin and baked on one side, before being removed from heat and flipped over to continuing baking with residual heat from the pan. Served in a pool of green gazpacho the succulent salmon was like silk to the lips. Best to take in, in smaller portions, really savouring the fish’s natural sweetness married with the herbaceous-ness of the chilled soup. Simply beautiful.
This was well paired with Saolheiro 2018 Alvarinho Vinho Verde from Portugal.
Our third course was a slow roast rack of pork with strawberry, rhubarb, and mustard greens. This was a luscious and fatty piece of pork. The meat was so tender that it was difficult to discern fat from flesh. So succulent and juicy, yet not the least bit greasy. The fresh greens and tangy vinegar-like flavours of the fruit and vegetable puree did much to create balance for this dish. Although many of the guest did leave some ounce of gristle on their plate.
Paired with Carnier et Fils 2018 Pinot Noir, Epineuil Bourgogne.
For dessert we enjoyed a light Summer berry pudding with rum and mascarpone. It paired well with the richer and sweeter Maculan 2017 Vespaiola Torcalato Breganze DOC, Veneto. The dessert was not too sweet, a supple sponge with fresh flavours that mimicked the pork’s puree, the course before.
As my first time to L’Abbatoir, this was a lovely introduction. The dinner was a great way to showcase the difference fine produce and protein makes to a meal, and to weight the contrast between price and product. Truly a lesson in fine dining.
217 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J2