by Michelle Sproule | The last St. Lawrence pop-up preview dinner went down last night at sister restaurant Ask For Luigi. The dinners, four in total, have been collaborative in nature, this time pairing St. Lawrence’s chefs – co-owner JC Poirier and chef de cuisine Ashley Kurtz – with chef Mark Perrier of Savio Volpe. There were two seatings, and I was fortunate enough to sit with the staff for the first.
The dinner kicked off with a small but delicious taster of ham and parsley suspended in aspic and continued with a wild dandelion salad arranged with salted pork and hard-boiled egg before getting especially meaty with venison pie and lamb. The service closed with a puff pastry, cream-filled swan swimming in chocolate sauce. Drink pairings ranged from cider and Champagne to beer and Bordeaux, the evening being fittingly bookended by Labatts 50 tall cans at the start and a coffee stout at the end.
The standout was the venison tourtiere (the original meat in the Quebec delicacy), which was richly flavoured, delicately spiced and – considering the Montreal Canadiens flag piercing its top – charmingly unsubtle in its long distance call home (and a recurring theme). Though crazy in their variation, the sides of Heinz ketchup, cornichons, beets and chutney were entirely traditional accompaniments, and a joy to sample.
With the last of these pop-ups out of the way, St. Lawrence enters the final month of its construction in the old Big Lou’s Butcher Shop address at 269 Powell St. (northwest corner of Gore St.). If the dinner I enjoyed last night was any indication of what Vancouverites can expect of the 45 seater when it opens in June, I think we’re in for a real treat — a fun, casual, wistful and idiosyncratically genuine taste of Quebec that can’t be had anywhere else in town.