AWESOME THING WE ATE #904: Burdock & Co’s Fried Chicken With Pickled Vegetables

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by Andrew Morrison | One of the best restaurants to open so far this year is Burdock & Co.. It took over the old Cafeteria space at 2702 Main Street at 11th just a few months ago. It’s owned by noted local food promoter and former Bishop’s chef Andrea Carlson and her partner, designer/architect Kevin Bismanis. It’s gotten great press to date and even been shortlisted for enRoute Magazine’s 2013 Best New Restaurants in Canada list. The room is small and the look is airy, woody, clean and a little subdued, but not the least bit sleepy. A homey feel is achieved by way of mismatched antique silverware, natural linen napkins, and a floor staff that engages without being overbearingly “on message”. They know the contents and nuance of every dish on the menu, and can talk at length (with no small amount of pride) about every facet of the restaurant. Permeating everything is a sense of comfort. Burdock & Co. makes one feel totally at ease. There are no luxurious trappings or “talking point” design motifs. It’s honest and endearing, refreshing and real.

I fell hard for the fried chicken and pickled vegetable plate with crispy skin and charred chili vinegar [2]. The breading on the chicken sports great flavour and the pickle sting of the garden medley gels well with the gentle punch of the sauce. It’s also really pretty to look at, with its bright colours artfully arranged on earthy ceramic. The other hit was a well-composed plate of burdock and heritage pork sausage slices hiding amidst perfectly seasoned potato cubes, all under a canopy of fresh dandelion [3]. Neither were substantial in size, which left me wanting a little more. Still, their impact was more on the palate than on the belly, so the satisfaction comes from being wowed. It might therefore be especially prudent to order more than one dish per person. You can then share or hoard according to your miserly or generous sensibilities.

For drinks, they offer a tidy selection of wines and a handful of interesting beers (I love that Summer Solstice session ale from California’s Anderson Valley Brewing Company – so good with the chicken [1]), as well as some original cocktails and non-alcoholic concoctions, like the Cascadian Cooler of apple, fenugreek, lime, mint, and ginger beer was really refreshing [4]. The list reads well, with curation being the name of the game.

I don’t want to give Carlson and Bismanis any ideas, but what they’re charging per plate is shockingly low for the quality of the ingredients and the love that comes across loud and clear in the cooking (everything is local, sustainable, organic). I was a little taken aback by the price of their non-alcoholic drinks ($6.50 for the Cascadian Cooler), but dollar for dollar I reckon Burdock & Co. to be one of the better value restaurants on Main. If you haven’t been yet, go, and snag that chicken dish before it’s gone.

Burdock & Co. is open 7 days a week from 5pm on. They do not accept reservations.

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