Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie | Beaucoup Bakery | $3.75
You know those soups that you sometimes chance upon on especially rainy and shitty Vancouver days, the ones that restore your affections for the wet and cold like angels singing Holst on vinyl next to a fire with two fingers of Talisker in one hand and something good smoking in the other? This was one of them: hot and silkily textured leek puree with lemon, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and a whack of black pepper on vintage china.
Soup of the Day | Finch’s Market | 501 East Georgia at Jackson in Strathcona | Take a look
by Andrew Morrison | Poutine can be pretty gross in and of itself, but what of the poutine that has gone ahead and coupled itself with some meat? A disgusting self-indulgence, right? An over-self-indulgence. Well, not always. It’s actually not all that far removed from a Sunday dinner, minus the sprouts, yams and Yorkshires. While it is absolutely excessive, it doesn’t have to be as disgusting as it sounds. This one – found recently at The Oakwood in Kits – was pretty damn decadent without being repulsive. The pile of brisket had been smoked in-house and was added last as a crowning garnish (still warm, and untouched by gravy). The meat had great texture and flavour; prepped to a standard a carnivore fetishist would aspire to with exacting care in the kitchen. In the photo you can see a fatty edge or two, and there in lies the magic, the draught that convinces the eater that all is right in the world, that no pounds will be gained, that the next Star Wars movies won’t suffer a Jar Jar Binks or dialogue made of pine. The fat accelerates the meat’s overall melt on the tongue, and it’s a beautiful thing to feel as much as taste; so much better than the usual soggy short rib’s molar invading chew. Added bonus: the dish is presented in a skillet on top of a tree stump. How cool is that?
“All Canadian Poutine” | The Oakwood | 2741 West 4th Ave. | www.theoakwood.ca | $10
Roast Beef Sandwich with French Onion Soup | $9 | East of Main Cafe | 223 East Georgia
This might just be the best sandwich since the peameal bacon number landed at Big Lou’s in the summer. It was a nice-sized roast beefer with globs of blue cheese soaking up roasted shallot demi and horseradish aioli; all covered by arugula in a perfectly toasted, garlic butter-lathered bun from The Swiss Bakery (check the action shot on Instagram). It was sold as a sandwich with a cup of the soup of the day, which just happened to be French Onion. Once the cheese/bread cap was removed from the soup, the whole thing became a pretty decadent beef dip operation, and there was much rejoicing.
Simple is when the only complication is salt and pepper | 315 Carrall St. | nelsontheseagull.com | $5
Outstanding dinner at The Acorn last night, even if creative chef Brian Skinner forgot the meat. Oh wait…
“Tete de Lion” | Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie | 163 Keefer St. | $11.50 | www.bao-bei.ca
Mmm, who doesn’t love new menu items at Bao Bei? This one – dubbed the Tete de Lion – sees a hot chicken broth surrounding and soaking into a fist-sized pork meatball underneath a thick and buttery puff pastry cap. And thus, winter was defeated. Let’s hope it stays. #noms
Gnocchi with Parsley, Lemon and Goat’s Milk | $13 | The Parker | 237 Union Street
by Andrew Morrison | A shockingly good dinner went down the other night at South Granville’s celebrated West Restaurant. This year’s Canadian Culinary Champion, Marc Lepine of Ottawa’s Atelier, was behind the line collaborating on courses with West chef Quang Dang. It’s hard to say which of their many dishes was the best of the lot (I was pretty partial to the slow-cooked pork belly with the ’09 Whitehaven “Greg” Series Pinot Noir), but the entirety was one of the best meals I’ve had so far this year, right up there with The Pointe at the Wick, Sonora Island Resort, and Chez Panisse. From start to finish, everything about it was seamless.
I had the good fortune to be on hand in Kelowna for the Culinary Championships this past February and was floored by what I saw and tasted from Lepine. The competition threw low food costs, harsh time constraints, mystery wines and a black box full of “who knows?” ingredients at the mild-mannered chef, yet he excelled. I mean this with no disrespect to his fellow competitors, but he quietly and confidently made short work of them. It was a freakish thing to behold, and it was not something that I or any of the other judges expected, especially with chefs like Rob Feenie and JeanPhillipe St-Denis in the mix. I’ve yet to eat at Atelier, but wow do I ever mean to!
Equally impressive on the evening, of course, was Dang and the whole operation at West. These days, most of the new restaurants that I test drive for work are decidedly more casual affairs, so it was a cozy thing indeed to see the orchestration of fine dining up close again. I couldn’t possibly do it every day, but from time to time it’s nice to be deliciously reminded of what the high end is all about. Take a look below…
Andrew Morrison lives and works in Vancouver as editor-in-chief of Scout, food columnist at the Westender, and National Referee & Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He also contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and television shows on local food, culture and travel; collects inexpensive things; and enjoys rare birds, skateboards, cocktails, shoes, good pastas, many songs, and the smell of camp fires.
Burrata Cheese | Les Amis du Formage | Comes in on Thursday and has a way of selling out | $14
I recently hinted that the first act of incoming chef Andrea Carlson at Strathcona’s Harvest Community Foods would be to create a proper ramen soup (something the neighbourhood is missing). As you can see from the shot above, it’s now on the menu. That’s candied bacon, egg, watercress, corn, and two slices of pork belly over a nest of ramen noodles in hot and silky trotter broth. They’re still tweaking it, but my first bowl was pretty damn zippy, especially with the accompanying chili oil. Nom nom nom.
Mmm, we love Mogu, the new izakaya-themed food cart, especially their pork cutlet (“katsu”) sandwich with its red miso sauce and hot mustard coleslaw. We dug into it with a side of chicken karagge (and a shocking amount of other things) at yesterday’s Food Cart Fest in the back parking lot of The Waldorf Hotel. There’s only one of these gatherings of our mobile food vendors left – a last blast of summer – and it’s this upcoming Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. See you there.
Bonus: there’s a beer garden and some pretty kickass DJs.
Mellifera Honey (Lemon, Vanilla Bean or Cardamom Infused)