by Andrew Morrison | Cinara, the new 40 seat European/Italian eatery from La Pentola owner/chef Lucais Syme and his wife Jill, is set to open next week at 350 W. Pender. That’s the 1,500 sqft space occupying the main floor corner of the recently renovated Victoria Block at West Pender and Homer, right nexG door to our friends at The Paper Hound bookshop, across the street from the original location of Finch’s, and umbilically attached to the Victorian Hotel.
I took a look inside the highly anticipated eatery this morning and they look very close to being finished. The final building inspection is slated for this afternoon, so the place was a hive of activity. All of their staffing is done, and if all goes according to plan, they hope to do a trial run with friends and family on Wednesday night. If everything goes off without a hitch, they’ll offer their first proper service to the public on Thursday.
The dinner menu had me drooling. There’s plenty of small plates (duck pie, venison bresaola, humpback shrimp in bisque sauce, seafood antipasto); starters (prosciutto-wrapped rabbit terrine, corned veal tongue with fregola and clams0; mid-sized sharables (stuffed squid, coarse-grained polenta with nettles and pecorino); mains (beef shoulder with anchovy salsa verde, roasted branzino with sauce grebiche); plus dolce with a selection of cheeses. It all reads very well, and since we know who we’re dealing with in Lucais and Jill, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Vancouverites are in for a real winner here.
But what’s in a name? Here’s what we made of it when we broke the news of Cinara’s coming back in October:
“The name of the place – pronounced Chinara – is a nod to the humble artichoke (“Prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside,” Syme says). While it is one of several ancient monikers for the wild artichokes of the Levant and the thistle family’s Greek catch-all (Cynarae), Cinara is actually a place, an almost mythic island in the Aegean Sea (now known as Zinara). It was said to be home to some especially alluring Sirens, as well as a mysterious place of banishment. It was where the emperor Tiberius once sent a cheeky Greek named Zeno who dared to employ some flowery language in his presence. Cinara was also the name of a particularly greedy but irresistibly sexy ex-lover of the Roman lyric poet Horace (“the grief I knew in my cups when the delicious Cinara left me” – the poor dear)…Alas, Syme, as far as I know, is not a poet (lyric or otherwise) and, thank goodness, has not been banished from Yaletown. Operations at La Pentola will continue as normal.”
Cinara will be open for breakfast 7 days a week from 7am to 10am and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm until 10pm. Click through the photos below to get a feel for the room and to take a look at a draft of their dinner menu (subject to change, natch)…
The GOODS from La Quercia
Vancouver, BC | La Quercia is hosting a Veneto-inspired evening featuring the wines of the Bonomo family of the Monte del Fra’. The Bonomos will be in attendance to guide you through their prodigious offerings. Chef Adam Pegg, in collaboration with the winery, is creating a four course menu inspired by the idyllic setting of the morainic hills surrounding Lake Garda. Diners can expect to be whisked away to the tiny town of Custoza, the heart and soul of the region’s culinary and wine growing culture, with dishes inspired by its traditional fare. The dinner is on Wednesday, February 26th at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $100 per person and available through the restaurant. Call 604-676-1007 for reservations. Read more
The GOODS from La Quercia
Vancouver, BC | “Whosoever says truffle,” wrote Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, “utters a grand word, which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas…” Then let the word be uttered! The West Side’s multiple award-winning La Quercia restaurant is getting set to plate their much anticipated annual Truffle supper on the evening of November 3rd (6:30pm start). “It is the best truffle year in many years,” says owner/chef Adam Pegg. “We got some in today and they look and smell unbelievable”. The evening starts with glasses of sparkling Bellavista Francacorta and then moves through several courses, all of which are are paired with excellent wines (Arneis Alutto 2010, Ruche Gatto Pierfrancesco 2010, Nebbiolo Travaglini Gattinara Riseva 2001, Barolo Dagromis Gaja 2008, Sfursat 5 Stelle Nino Negri 2009, Amarone Classico Sant’Urbano) and loaded with truffles (think pheasant, risotto ai porcini, vitello crudu, etc). Tickets are $350 and available through the restaurant by phone: 604-676-1007. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | One of our favourite West Side lunch spots is shutting down for good after service this Saturday. The Italian-themed La Ghianda delicatessen at 2083 Alma St. has proven to be too much work for chefs Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme, who also own the nearby multiple award-winning La Quercia, it’s neighbouring L’Officio wine bar, and Yaletown’s new La Pentola Della Quercia. “It’s our fault for not being able to spend enough time there.” Adam told me by phone this afternoon. “That’s the bottom line. We just couldn’t be there as much as we needed to be, and that’s not fair to both our cooks and our customers.” They could keep it as a commissary space (for salumi, etc.), but since it picked up a liquor license back in August it would be a crying shame to see the West Side lose an option for a solid meal with a glass or two. Word has it that Yuji from Yuji’s Japanese Tapas has taken a peek at the address, and that’s pretty exciting. He may have shut his West 4th location nearly two years ago, but he’s been on the lookout for new digs. Wouldn’t a finely tuned 20 seat izakaya be awesome for this space? Either way, I’m sad to see La Ghianda go. After a muddy, Saturday morning hike through the Endowment Lands, their meaty orrechiete with ragu always hit the spot!
We’ve invited Yaletown’s La Pentola in the OPUS Hotel to join our GOODS section. The Northern Italian-themed restaurant (from the same folks who brought us the award-winning La Quercia) are now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be posting their news in addition to hosting a page for them on our awesome list of goodnesses. We’d like to take this chance to thank them for their support, and for making Vancouver a more delicious city to live in.
by Andrew Morrison | Yes, it’s true. The second most delayed restaurant in the entire city (1st is the new Vij’s) has passed all its permits and is on the very cusp of opening to the public at 3687 West 4th. I saw the finished L’Officio with my own eyes last night, and the wee 20 seater is clearly ready to go. But there’s a snag, because of course there’s a snag! It might even be open to the public already if they weren’t short three or four workers. They can’t pull an opening off without them. Specifically, they’re looking for at least two wine-savvy front of house people and a pair of cooks. So if you know of any good people with a passion for food and wine who are currently looking for work (sure you do), please instruct them to send their resumes to owners/chefs Adam Pegg or Lucais Syme at email@example.com as quickly as possible to save us Vancouver diners from further wait. As you can see in the shots above, right now the staff from La Quercia next door are using the little would-be wine bar as a place for staff meals alla famiglia before service. I consider such behaviour to be of a taunting nature. That could be us, damnit! So tell you friends – look under rocks – let’s get this place staffed and good to go. Thank you.
by Andrew Morrison | Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme’s acclaimed West Side lunch spot, La Ghianda, has just secured a liquor license. It has accordingly shuttered for a rapid aesthetic upgrade and will reopen with table service, beers, tumblers of wine and new hours this upcoming Tuesday (11:30am until late). The deli is shrinking to accommodate the expansion – to 9 joinable two tops – but rest assured we’ll still be able to score their awesome sauces, cured meats, pastas and such at retail. As for the menu, it will be a set affair of La Ghianda greatest hits: veal scaloppine, orecchiette bolognese, duck confit, penne arrabiata, and so on. The “no reservations” policy will continue as is. Stoked.
In other news, the long anticipated L’Officio (a seemingly false-started restaurant project next to Syme and Pegg’s award-winning La Quercia), has been resurrected after a lengthy entanglement with red tape. They are on track for an opening this winter – November at the earliest.
And there’s also good news for Syme and Pegg’s upcoming Yaletown adventure, La Pentola Della Quercia (in the Opus Hotel): they’ve hired on former restaurateurs Nathalie and Stephan Meyer as manager and chef respectively. This will be the French couple’s homecoming to the Vancouver restaurant scene. You may remember that they gave up “the life” a few years ago when they closed their restaurant, Saveur, on Thurlow off Robson (it became the Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe and is now home Ensemble). Welcome back!
The GOODS from La Quercia
Vancouver, BC | On Wednesday March 14th at 6:30pm, La Quercia will welcome Aldo Steccanella from Italy’s Tenuta Sant’Antonio (makers of fine Amarone, Valpolicella and Soave). We will be pairing six of Aldo’s premium wines with a menu crafted by La Quercia chefs/owners Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme. The menu will reflect the Veneto, offering several classics dishes from the region. The event is nearly sold out already. Tickets are $150, which includes all wines, food, taxes and gratuities. To book, call 604-676-1007. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from La Ghianda
Vancouver, BC | La Ghianda, the busy little delicatessen (and brother to La Quercia) on the West Side, is currently looking for a full-time counter person. The hours would be Tuesday through Sunday from 10am til 7pm. Resumes can be dropped off in person and in confidence at La Ghianda during opening hours.
The GOODS La Quercia
Vancouver, BC | Our 3rd Annual Truffle Dinner takes place on November 11th. We are very excited about this year’s event as we are partnering with Cru Wine Selections. The truffle dinner will be paired exclusively with the wines of Angelo Gaja (except the reception bubbles). Each of Gaja’s three properties will be represented (Gaja in Piedmont, Ca’Marcanda in Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast, and Pieve Santa Restituta in Montalcino). Tickets are expected to sell out fast ($300 per person), but note that we’ll have white truffles in house for the week leading up to and after the event. A La Carte diners will have the opportunity to sample truffle in a variety of ways, whether it be with egg, Carne Crudo, Tajarin, and so on. Read the special Truffle/Gaja Dinner menu with pairings after the leap… Read more
by Andrew Morrison | Lucais Syme and Adam Pegg, the chefs/owners of the award-winning La Quercia (inarguably one of the most respected restaurants in Vancouver), have secured the address next door to their location at 4th and Alma with the aim of turning it into an Italian wine and tapas (stuzzichini) bar.
Syme and Pegg (who also own the nearby La Ghianda) are calling it “L’Officio”, or “The Office”. It is so named because the new project will finally afford them the square footage for an office. The new – and rather small – restaurant at 3687 West 4th (formerly a shop called “Garden Party”) will have separate frontage from La Quercia (though it may umbilically connect at the rear near the kitchen), fewer than 20 seats, many wines poured by the glass, and what I can only imagine will be a menu card of Italian bar bites that will blow us all away. L’Officio is still in its conceptual stage (ie. construction has yet to begin), so we can only ballpark the date for opening in early 2012. Since these fellows aren’t in the business of doing anything half-assed, I’ll wager it’ll be well worth the wait.
Job posting from Scout supporter La Quercia
Vancouver, BC | La Quercia owners Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme are looking for a good cook or two as well as a counter-person for their new deli/lunch spot, La Ghianda (2083 Alma). Applicants are asked to please drop either establishment with a resume between 10am and 5pm. Read more
News from Scout supporter La Quercia
Vancouver, BC | At 7pm on Friday, November the 19th, La Quercia restaurant will play host to twenty lucky gourmands for an incredible feast of white truffles paired with the Piemontese wines of Angelo Gaja. Chefs Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme have built a menu of classics, highlighting the exquisite nature of this rare tuber that will be served in hedonistic proportions.
James Johnson of CRU distribution, Angelo Gaja’s exclusive importer in British Columbia, will talk about the Piedmont region and the wines of Angelo Gaja. Angelo Gaja is internationally recognized as not just one of Italy’s, but one of the world’s greatest winemakers. Angelo Gaja’s wines have been described by Wine Spectator as “perhaps the finest Italian wines ever made.” Menu and details after the jump… Read more