Outstanding dinner at The Acorn last night, even if creative chef Brian Skinner forgot the meat. Oh wait…
by Andrew Morrison | Mark Taylor is closing his critically-acclaimed Cru Restaurant on June 30th, almost 9 years to the day after it opened at 1459 West Broadway. The sad news comes just a few months after he opened his second restaurant, the Mediterranean-themed Siena, located nearby at 1485 West 12th.
Taylor doesn’t believe that the coming end of Cru should be seen as further indication of Vancouver’s divorce from fine dining. “Look at Hawksworth, Blue Water, Cioppino’s…they’re all doing buckets,” he told me over the phone this afternoon. “Cru was actually busier after Siena opened, but the hassle to pleasure ratio is just not what it used to be. I know it sounds like politician’s cliche, but I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my family.” Though Taylor has sold the assets within, he’d like to assure Vancouverites that there’s a good chance that he’ll open Cru again somewhere else at some point down the line. In the meantime, however, he has a new baby to enjoy and a marriage/honeymoon on the horizon this Fall.
The wine bar will be fondly remembered for its award-winning small plates, its addictive duck confit, its “Cellar Door” Caesars, its understated elegance, its deep wine list, and its personal, whip-smart service. If you’ve never been to Cru before, you should while you still can.
by Andrew Morrison | Denman’s award-winning Kingyo Izakaya is reportedly heading east to open a new spot in The Big Smoke. Via our friends at Toronto Life:
Vancouverites dining at [Toronto's] Bestellen might do a double take when they spot Koji Zenimaru in the open kitchen. Though working under chef Rob Rossi, Zenimaru is actually corporate head chef of Kingyo izakaya and its sister restaurant, Suika, in Vancouver.
Zenimaru, known for dishes such as Chinese poutine and stone-grilled beef tongue (“do not touch the stone” says the menu) is hardly passing through town. “I will bring Kingyo to Toronto this year,” he promises.
Lucky ducks. (hat tip: reader KN)
We recently returned from an R&R trip down to Los Angeles. We were down there at the same time as Josh Pape, James Iranzad, and David Gunawan who were in town doing R&D for their upcoming Wildebeest restaurant on Hastings. We tagged along for several of their meals and got up to many other things besides, the delicious gists of which you can see from the 200 or so shots below…
by Claire Lassam | Setting rare to well aside, there are, in this girl’s opinion, really just two kinds of steak-eaters: those who like their meat tender at the expense of taste, and those who prefer to chew for flavour. If you’re in the first category, you probably spend a lot of money on tenderloins when you go out for dinner, and that’s lovely. Really it is, but this article is not for you. That’s because this piece is about steak frites, and when you get to a proper one you get a thick, juicy, chewy steak. Sure, it will have a bit of gristle and some fat, but it will be well marbled and – if you’re in luck – it will have been marinated long enough so that when you take your first bite, the meat gives way easily.
It should be a hanger steak, but a flank or a skirt steak will do. On the plate (or next to it) will be frites, a sauce of some type, and – hopefully – some freshly made mayo. That’s all you need for perfection.
The frites should be about the width of a pencil, and very crispy; the kind of crispy that comes from double frying so that when you get to the ones at the bottom of the plate they aren’t soggy. That’s very important.
The sauce is also vital, but the type is often left up to you. Any good steak frites will come with a few options, usually a red wine jus, a Bearnaise, a herb butter, a peppercorn sauce or one laden with mushrooms. I’m nearly always a sucker for a mushroom sauce, but sometimes if I’m feeling crazy or, as in the case for this article when I ate 5 steak frites in relatively rapid succession, I’ll mix things up a bit and get the peppercorn. And, as I intimated above, a good steak frites should come with mayo. If it isn’t on your plate when it arrives, you may not be in a very good restaurant.
To find the perfect steak frites on this mission, I only went to French bistros, and by that I mean places with large French wine lists and Boris on the beer list; the small, cozy kind of restaurant where for an appetiser you can get a solid onion tart or freshly shucked oysters (preferably both).
My search started out with a bang at Tableau in Coal Harbour, despite the fact that it broke a few rules. It was a sirloin steak, for starters, and it came with just one sauce (my beloved peppercorn). But it was a beautiful steak – very thick, and perfectly cooked; quite bloody in the middle but nice and charred on the outside. It had a bit of chew and just enough sauce to smear on each cut. The frites came on the side and were a deep golden colour with a big pot of home made aoli. And to really put things over the top, there was also a salad on the plate. That’s not essential, but a very nice perk indeed. For $18, it was also the cheapest steak I’d have on this mission. Afterwards, I suspected that I had already found the best steak frites in town, but I didn’t mind soldiering on to a few other places. Read more
How do you make a chef happy in January? Bring him black winter truffles of course. Chef David Hawksworth of Hawksworth in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia took delivery of a $10,000 pile of them this morning from Perigord, France, and will be using them in the restaurant starting this evening. Anyone else fancy potato gnocchi with oxtail dusted with black winter truffle for supper?
The GOODS from Cibo Trattoria
Vancouver, BC | Cibo Trattoria plays tribute to Venice, Italy for a special Venezia (Venice) Dinner on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, from 5pm into the night. This special and fun-filled evening is one of Vancouver’s “must attend” events for those who love Italian food, wine and history. Guests will enjoy an evening of romance where violin musicians will set a lovely mood with the entire room solely lit by candles and Cibo’s inviting staff appropriately dressed in attire from the 1600’s. Details after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Red Truck Beer Company:
Vancouver, BC | The fine brewing minds at Red Truck have come up with our latest limited release, based on two styles of German beers, Bock (Strong Munich Lager) and Schwartzbier (Black Lager). The colour is black…sooo black, with a tan head. Rich coffee liquor, dark caramel, burnt sugar, dried raisins and plums, dominate the flavours of this beer. It has a sweet malt finish, a subdued hop character, yet despite the colour, is surprisingly clean flavoured. This should go very with any char grilled meats, sausages, wild game, smoker BBQ, blackened food, mole sauces, sweet sauces, sweet roasted vegetables, custard flan desserts, and anything chocolate… Read more
We’ve invited Granville Island’s Dockside Restaurant & Brewing Co. to join our GOODS section as a recommended local company. They are now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be publishing their news on our front page and hosting a page for them in our list of local and independent goodness. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support of our little website!
If you think your business would be a good fit for Scout, we want to know.
News from Scout supporter Cibo Trattoria
Vancouver, BC | Cibo Trattoria, the award-winning Italian eatery in downtown Vancouver’s chic Moda Hotel, is serving a taste of Tuscany. Executive Chef Neil Taylor and his talented kitchen brigade have used fine, fresh ingredients to craft a three-course menu that promises to transport guests to the idyllic Italian region.
Available until February 6 in addition to the regular a la carte menu, guests will savour three courses beginning with a choice of ribolita – soup of cannellini beans, bread, kale and extra-virgin olive oil — or chicken-liver Toscana served with house-made pickles and bruschetta. The main course features include: cacciucco, a Tuscan fish stew of rock cod, mussels, clams, octopus, tomato and chilli; tagliata di manzo, a marriage of skirt steak, cannellini beans, rosemary and green peppercorns; and pici, hand-rolled Tuscan spaghetti with pork ragu and pecorino. The grand finale is panforte – spiced fruit and nut cake — or chocolate nemesis river café.
Cibo Trattoria’s three-course Tuscan menu is $35 + tax per person, available in addition to the regular a la carte menu until February 6, 2011. Learn more about Cibo after the jump… Read more
News from Scout supporter The Refinery
Vancouver, BC | The Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen Series welcomes four “bartender finalists” in January, 2011. As the competitors quickly approach the wood for their chance to win the first ever Cocktail Kitchen at The Refinery and a trip to California, we can’t help but look back at the highlights from the four finalists’ performances over the past 6 months.
During July’s launch month, David Bain of South Granville’s West Restaurant caught guests off guard with his cocktail “The Triple Threat”. This well thought out and super creative cocktail used several different techniques and components. Guests were impressed by the fresh-foam which sat atop a simple four ingredient cocktail, including a homemade triple-chili infused heated agave nectar, The Refinery’s chocolate sweet vermouth, citrus and raw cacao nib Hornitos Reposado Tequila. This cocktail was an instant winner with its pairing of Driftwood Whitebark and Achiote marinated flank steak. Read more
News from Scout supporters Abigail’s Party
Vancouver, BC | Abigail’s Party kicks off the first of a series of monthly cask nights this Tuesday, January 11th. A cask of Red Truck Ale will get tapped by Sam Payne and Brewmaster Dave Varga at 6pm, and they tell us it’s pretty aggressively flavoured with Cascade hops, bringing a slightly sweet grapefruit character from the lightly carbonated amber ale. Chef Cameron is working away on what promises to be cracking Cottage Pie should you like to stay for dinner. More details below… Read more
News from Scout supporters Nu, Raincity Grill, and C RESTAURANT
Vancouver, BC | The Kambolis Group, never content to just do the “tried and true”, is going the extra mile for this year’s Dine Out. C Restaurant, glowing with new chef de cuisine Lee Humphries comfortable cooking, has forgone the typical three-course menu and replaced it with a five course-tasting menu, still for only $38. (A whimsical “to-go” course, petit fours and chocolates, complete the evening). Nu, reinvigorated by its delicate reimagining of Greek cuisine, does four courses: diners will be welcomed with crisp pita, homous, and olives as they settle in.
Proprietor Harry Kambolis (who’s in chef’s whites a lot these days) has already received strong notices for his deft and breezy handling of the Aegean Sea classics. And while Raincity Grill’s little sisters are going the extra mile, the English Bay-infused bistro is keeping those miles to a minimum: Chef Jennifer Peter’s commitment to the 100 mile diet is as steadfast as ever. “North Arm, Sloping Hills, Rossdown and Hannah Brook Farms are all 25 to 98 miles away from Denman Street,” proprietor Harry Kambolis is pleased to say. “I actually had one of my team Google map each farm.”
“I don’t see Dine Out as downgraded experience,” continues Kambolis, “I see it as an audition. Our patrons are here to see if they’d like to come back during the year, and I’ve imparted that mindset to my kitchen and staff. Guests can expect an experience that’s equal to the rest of the year.” Why did Kambolis decide to add the extra courses and courtesies? “Each new year, Dine Out effectively reinvigorates the hospitality industry, but for me, it’s not a cash grab: it’s a chance to give back. In my experience, our group always shines when it’s giving back.” Read more