After a successful friends and family service last night, Chef Bardia Ilbeiggi is set to open the solarium section of his highly anticipated 60-seat, Persian-inspired Delara restaurant at 2272 West 4th Avenue this Wednesday, August 18th.
The veteran of acclaimed local restaurants like Farmer’s Apprentice and L’Abattoir took over the old Burgoo space in Kitsilano this past Spring with the goal – now being met – of being ready for launch before the end of summer. It was a pretty straightforward transformation (see the beginnings of it here) with zero in the way of structural changes and nearly all attention being paid through paint, plaster and furnishings, the end results being the work of interior designer Carmen Cheung, whose basic brief from Bardia was to take the 2,400 sqft space “from dark to light.”
I’d seen computer renderings of the design but there’s no substitute for the real thing, which is why I checked out late last week as they were still working on a few things here and there. The look has indeed gone from dark to light. Where it was once woody and hearth-like is now airy and bright, with the solarium frontage and sidewalk vantage really leading the witness. Go deeper into the room and you’ll find hanging greenery, geometric lattice screens, and a thought-provoking painting by local Iranian artist Golnaz Kianipour. It’s very pretty, and I’m very much looking forward to taking it in properly with glass and fork.
Speaking of which, I don’t want to fully give the menus away, but it all reads very well. Between the lines is the daily influence and guidance of Bardia’s mother, Mina Parsa, who has been very present in the restaurant’s development in order to ensure her son gets the textures, flavours and spices well within the ballpark of her approval. That isn’t to say she’s reigning in Bardia’s natural creativity, experience with modern techniques and love for West Coast ingredients, but rather I suspect she’s been keeping him focused on the things he needs to get right. At least that’s my personal take on the dynamic I’ve seen, and you will likely be able to taste it in the seedy sourdough flatbread with kale borani; Ling Cod sauced with preserved lemon and turmeric; yogurt and saffron marinated chicken kebabs; and slow-cooked, grilled short rib on eggplant and tomato stew with labneh and pickles. Oh, and there’s brunch, too, which means we’ll get to try some especially cool things like kookoo sibzamini — crispy savoury pancakes with fried egg and watercress. I screened the wine list as well. Expect a short selection of interesting bottles with tersely evocative descriptions. For example, Summerhill’s Baco Noir 2018 gets this: “Night hike to the fire pit, fresh blackberries.”
NB: When Delara launches this Wednesday – for brunch, lunch, and dinner Wednesday through Sunday – only the solarium will be operational. The main dining room and bar should come online by September.