Hawksworth Restaurant & South African Wines at Marquis Wine Cellars

Restaurant: Hawksworth Restaurant
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast/Pacific Rim/Euro-Asian/Fine Dining
Last visited: October 3, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 801 West Georgia Street (Inside Rosewood Hotel Georgia)
Price Range: $30-50, $50+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5-5.5
Service: 5
Ambiance: 6
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • Chef David Hawksworth
  • Fine dining
  • West Coast/Pacific Northwest cuisine
  • Popular to locals & hotel guests
  • Organic local ingredients
  • Sustainable/Ocean Wise
  • Seasonal menus
  • Daily features/tasting menus
  • Incredible dining room
  • Large private room
  • Stellar wine room/list
  • Hawksworth Restaurant – Dinner post

Restaurant Hours:

  • Bar/Lounge area 11:00am – 12:45am (12:00am Sunday)
  • Mon-Fri Breakfast 6:30am – 10:30am
  • Mon-Fri Lunch 11:30am – 2pm
  • Mon-Fri Dinner 5pm – 11pm
  • Sat-Sun Breakfast 7am – 10:30am
  • Sat-Sun Brunch 10:30am – 2:30pm
  • Sat-Sun Dinner 5pm – 11pm

**Recommendations: Hotel Georgia Cocktail, Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio, 48 hr Beef Shortrib, Foie Gras Parfait, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Confit Pork Shoulder, Kalamanzi Cream

South African wines. Uh oh. It’s not something I know too much about since there’s such a limited selection available in Vancouver. That’s partly why it was even more exciting when I was invited to the Marquis Wine Cellars‘ South African Wine Luncheon at Hawksworth. I needed to change that “uh oh” to an “oh oh!“. These wines are now exclusively available at Marquis Wine Cellar and they’re brand new to the Vancouver market. Wine lovers, get ready for something different as the majority of these wines were quite easy to warm up to.

There is currently a limited selection of South African wines at liquor stores, but I’m not even sure which ones are worth celebrating or even mentioning. I spoke with Kevin from Marquis Wine Cellar and I was surprised to learn that one of the trends of South African wines was reducing alcohol percentages while maximizing flavour. There’s also respect to the land, so I’m happy that all the wines featured were sustainable.

Upon arrival I was given a book full of wines from South Africa, and honestly I didn’t even know where to start, and I hadn’t even started drinking yet. Luckily, the wines were previously arranged, however it wasn’t necessarily paired best with the food. I had to separate the two, which was difficult since they go hand in hand. There were six wines featured, and I don’t know how they compare to other ones, but the winners for me were the Mooiplaas Chenin Blanc 2010, and the Mooiplaas Rosiland 2006. All the wines I tried were relatively affordable, and although I appreciate our local wines, it was a nice change to try boutique wines from another country outside of North America and Europe.

Marquis Wine Cellars will be hosting some in store wine tastings as well as ticketed wine dinners featuring these South African wines in my post, so you’ll have opportunities to check them out. See their event listings here.

IMAGES OF THE RESTAURANT ARE TAKEN FROM THE HAWKSWORTH RESTAURANT WEBSITE – SEE GALLERY.

On the table:

**Tuna Tartar5/6

  • Charred avocado, cucumber, asian pear, yuzu, puffed rice $17
  • Wine pairing: Mooiplaas Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Mooiplaas Chenin Blanc 2010
  • I remembered this course from my first time at Hawksworth – see Tuna Tartar for dinner here. I was pleased to be reunited.
  • This one was a slightly different version and a bit more simplified, but the flavours still delivered. I think it was their lunch portion for the dish.
  • I actually liked the presentation better this time around although the tuna did look kind of like a rare beef patty.
  • The tartar was very creamy and almost mashed into a puree with some onions or shallots.
  • It was quite buttery and oily and the avocado was actually less buttery because there was so much lime juice in it. I couldn’t get that charred flavour though.
  • The yuzu foam brightened up the the fish without soaking it and the crispy puffed rice made for great texture.
  • There were lots of citrus notes from the orange yuzu, and the lime infused avocado, and I could have used some sweetness, but it was still delicious.
  • I think the sweetness was supposed to come from the Asian pear, but I couldn’t really tell it was there because it was so minced up and covered by all the other flavours and textures. I think it was mixed with the minced cucumber as well.
  • There was a little heat I think coming from the seasoned puffed rice, but it’s not a spicy dish. I think tuna tartar requires a little spice or wasabi anyways to open up the palate.

The Mooiplaas Sauvignon Blanc ($19.90) was a better match for the dish, although the Chenin Blanc was more memorable and better overall. The Sauvignon Blanc was a bit citrusy and it was an easy drinking wine or crisp starting wine, but not particularly memorable. There was some melon, grass and litchi, but I didn’t find it grassy. For some reason it smelt like apples to me.

The Mooiplaas Chenin Blanc ($19.90) was buttery smooth and sweet with honey notes, but it just overpowered the tartar a bit. It had a sweetness, but a strong acidity and the tuna tartar was quite acidic already so it was a bit strong. As a drinking wine, it’s certainly worth it though and this was one of my favourites out of the bunch. It’s great alone and the flavour lingers.

**Heirloom Tomato Salad6/6

  • Speck, burrata, green olive $18
  • Almost anything with burrata is an automatic win, but this salad was reliant on fresh high quality ingredients, which they were (hence the price).
  • I could smell the fresh ingredients as soon as it hit the table.
  • This was possibly one of the best heirloom tomato salads I’ve had, and it helped that the wine was well paired.
  • The creamy clouds of melting burrata was a nice upgrade from a traditional buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte.

  • The Speck on the left (dark red) had a firmer bite and it’s cold smoked with a juniper berry seasoning, and the prosciutto on the right was more fatty, oily, soft and salty.
  • There were a few varieties of tomatoes and some of them were sweet while others were more acidic, so there was a nice balance.
  • I liked the thick beef steak slices of tomatoes contrasting the pops of plump round cherry tomatoes.
  • The bursts of fruity tomato juice almost acted as a natural dressing for the salad and the salt came from the buttery prosciutto, speck, and the aioli.
  • The creamy aioli was made with green olives as well as capers so it was sharp and savoury and strong enough to stand up to the cured meats.
  • I think there was supposed to be some deep fried capers, but I didn’t get any, although I can imagine it being amazing with them.
  • The little pieces of scattered fresh burrata was good quality Italian burrata and the inside was filled with buttery rich cream. I think the best burrata I’ve had is still from Federico’s Supper Club though – see here.
  • The acidic tomatoes just helped ease the richness of the dish and the bits of freshly cracked black pepper was all that was needed to play into the Rosiland wine.
  • It was topped with some arugula and I would have preferred a traditional basil since it was so Italian, but regardless it was a very well prepared salad.
  • It was a very simple salad, but the ingredients were showcased from excellent suppliers. Some fresh figs or cantaloupe would have been a lovely addition.

The Bean “Coffee” Pinotage ($18.90) is one of their best sellers, but it was hard for me to take seriously. I’ve never had anything like it. It smelled like coffee and espresso, but it tasted like wine with a hint of chocolate and coffee. It was almost playing tricks on me and it’s a fun and playful rookie wine that offers something different, but it wouldn’t really go with anything, but maybe a sundried tomato dish. It could maybe go with chocolate, but I’m not keen on red wine and chocolate for dessert.

The Mooiplaas Rosiland red wine ($34.90) was my favourite next to the Chenin Blanc. I think it helped that it paired with the dish so well though. It’s a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was quite bold, without being too oaky and it’s really ideal with tomatoes and I loved it with the dish.

**Confit Pork Shoulder6/6

  • Braised lentils, apple, walnut $20
  • I want to marry this dish, and if not, at least have it on every rainy day. When I see “confit”, I melt.
  • Being in Vancouver (where it rains often), I actually wouldn’t be able to have it every day though since it’s so incredibly decadent and rich, but once every other week would be no problem.
  • It was a classic combination of comfort food ingredients executed with fine dining technique and class.
  • I literally ditched my knife and used my fork for the whole piece of pork. It was so tender I probably could have used a spoon.

  • My fork just sunk right into the meat and it would shred away pieces of melt in your mouth pork.
  • Each layer and shred of pork was well infused with flavour and a marinade I couldn’t even deconstruct.
  • It wasn’t obvious with mustard, garlic or anything distinct, but I’m sure it was used and the flavours just absorbed into the pork.
  • The pork had the perfect amount of fat content without being overly oily or greasy and parts of it were juicy, while others were tender, but not quite juicy.
  • The whole thing was no doubt tender and it seemed sous vide, but it was confit.
  • I would have loved some sort of crispy crust or crispy layer on the pork because there just wasn’t enough crunchy walnuts for textural contrast.
  • The perfectly cooked lentils were soaking in a rich savoury pork au jus formed with the basic aromatics of onions, celery, carrots, and likely a bit of wine.
  • There was also some kale in the lentils making it almost like a hearty stew.
  • The kale seemed braised in some apple cider vinegar because it was a bit acidic.
  • The lentils were surrounded by a pool of rich, creamy, velvety and smooth puree.
  • I thought it was celeriac, but I think it was apple and celeriac puree.
  • The puree was almost like a pommes puree which is one of my favourites and it just soaked up all the pork au jus and sauce.
  • It almost had a chestnutty texture and was ultra creamy and sweet from the apples and tangy from what I’m sure was celeriac.
  • The sweet toasted walnuts just topped the dish off, but I wanted more of them and that was the only thing it was short of.
  • I loved how the apples were interpreted and overall the dish was sweet, savoury, and tangy with attention to various textures and detail.
  • This was comfort food for the queen.
  • It kind of reminded me a duck confit dish I had at Redd in Napa Valley too – see Crisp Duck Confit.

The Mooiplaas Shiraz Watershed 2008 ($27.90) was still a bit raw for me. I found it quite tart, spicy and bold and it wasn’t my favourite. It was a big jump from the Rosiland.

The Post House Missing Virgin 2008 ($29.90) is a blend of 70% Pinotage and 30% Petit Verdot and I’m not familiar with this kind of wine. I can’t say I was a fan of either of these reds and they were just a bit young for me. They needed more time and I just found them a bit underdeveloped. It’s definitely a wine for game.

Flat Iron Steakn/a

  • I tried a piece of the beef, and it was good, but just more normal and I definitely made the right choice with the confit pork shoulder.

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