Restaurant: West Restaurant + Bar
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/Fine Dining
Last visited: January 18, 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC (Fairview)
Phone: (604) 738-8938
Address: 2881 Granville Street
Transit: SB Granville St FS w 13 Av
Price Range: $50+ (Mains $30-50)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Top Table Group Restaurant
- Pacific Northwest cuisine
- Award winning
- Mostly local ingredients
- Some modernist techniques
- Excellent bar/cocktail program
- Excellent wine program
- Vegetarian friendly
- Chefs Tasting Menu
- Ocean Wise
- Restaurant Nightly from 5.30 – 11.00pm
- Bar Nightly from 5.30 – midnight
- Brunch 11.00am – 2.30pm, Sunday
- Lunch 11.30am – 2.30pm, Monday – Sunday
So what’s this!? I thought you said you hated Dine Out Vancouver? No, I never said I hated it, I said “I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with the Dine Out Vancouver Festival” – see my thoughts on it here. Anyway it was the first night for the festival and together with
@VancityBuzz, @YogaOnTheFlow, @cwistal, @odyjabroni, and @Christie_Lohr we Dined Out at West Restaurant in Vancouver, BC.
West Restaurant is likely going to be one of the busiest restaurants during Dine Out Vancouver. It is one of those fine dining restaurants with a strong reputation most locals know about, but either haven’t tried or don’t really remember. For a restaurant that should be in downtown, it isn’t, as to why it can easily fall off the radar even with its many accolades and awards.
I’ve been to West for personal and private events so it was nice to have something to compare to outside of the Dine Out experience. I know Chef Quang Dang and bartender David W. and I’m confident in what they do on a regular basis so I was hoping nothing would change for Dine Out. That being said, I still highly recommend going back to West outside of Dine Out for a better representation of what they can do. The cocktails will be the same, but the food and experience will be somewhat different.
For this post I’m going to talk about West just in the context of Dine Out since it is what I was invited here to do. Of course I couldn’t resist ordering off the menu a bit, which is also an option they welcome regardless of who is ordering from the Dine Out Menu.
For Dine Out Vancouver West is providing a 3 course dinner for $38 with vegetarian friendly options. In terms of price it is a very good deal because on a regular night $38 is an average price of a main. It is one of Vancouver’s pricier restaurants, but the quality of ingredients is there as well as the talent.
In terms of value you might still be a bit hungry after the 3 courses even if you don’t have a big appetite, so you might want to order some sides. Being a fine dining restaurant to start, they didn’t really size down their portions for Dine Out, which I liked, but you might need a kebab or “McDonald’s run” after.
In terms of the ambiance, it was a full house as expected for Dine Out. Although we were not rushed, they do have a 2 hour time frame which guests are told about in advance to keep up with reservations. On a regular night this would not be a problem so you could take your time and have an extra two or five cocktails… yes, the bar can hold down the fort and it is worth visiting alone.
In regards to menu and food, I prefer ordering a la carte over price fixe, but price fixe usually provides better value. I’m quite adventurous with food and price fixe menus tend to play it safe, but I was actually impressed with West’s Dine Out Menu. I talked to Chef Dang and he felt passionately about the vegetarian items, which was no surprise since that movement is quite popular (see here), but I still like my meat.
The price fixe menu was not off the beaten path and there were some stand outs, but generally the food was very good and a fair representation of West. The presentation was beautiful as always and they are capable of more, but I had a good time and even those new to West enjoyed their dinner. The company made for the Dine Out experience which is how I approach most Dine Out events anyway.
Note: I won’t go into detail with the food since it’s a one off menu designed for Dine Out Vancouver. Depending on what you order it may or may not be a fair representation of a regular night, but I will give my Dine Out recommendations. I also had a few sampler courses which are not included in the Dine Out Menu.
On the table:
Giffard Lichi Li Liqueur, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Jasmine Green Tea Syrup, Lemon (About $11)
- This is no “SOHO Lychee and 7”, although that has its place. I loved this!
- It was a lot less sweet and fruity than I expected and it wasn’t too boozy, but light and refreshing.
- It was lemony at first and then the flavour of the lychee (litchee) came afterward.
- I prefer gin to vodka so this was great for me and the Jasmine Green Tea syrup played right into the earthy gin.
- The cocktails are very labour intensive and David W. makes most of the syrups in house, so although pricey they are more or less justified.
- Just look at the brands he has in stock and you can tell the quality is there.
- Makers Mark Bourbon, Grand Marnier, Old Fashion Bitters, Lemon + Navan-Orange blossom Foam $13
- This is a signature cocktail and one of the house favourites. I didn’t order it, but I tried it.
- I like Bourbon, and this was aggressive, but not overly boozy and I enjoyed it.
- It was well balanced, floral and citrusy, but not sour or perfume like.
- It is not something I would personally order, but I also wouldn’t turn it down.
- I’m not sure if they’re just doing this for Dine Out, but usually they give 3 different kinds of house made breads, but this time it was just one.
- I have said it before, but this is always important to me especially at fine dining restaurants.
- The mini bread rolls are made in house and served warm with high quality butter and extra virgin olive oil.
- The butter was good quality butter and it was salty with a grassy flavour without being greasy and oily.
- The olive oil was intense and potent, fruity initially, and then lingered a spiciness in your throat.
- That peppery spice is a sign of really high quality olive oil with high antioxidants.
- I was almost using a 1:1 ratio of bread and butter as well as bread and olive oil.
Wild BC Salmon Tataki Granville Island Sake Emulsion, Ikura – This is not part of the Dine Out Menu, but it was a sampling of an appetizer from their a la carte menu. I actually really enjoyed it and the salmon was excellent quality. Being in BC, it should be and it was well sourced. I’m curious what the actual appetizer portion looks like and based on this I would consider ordering it next time.
Dine Out Menu – Appetizer (Choose one)
Caramelized Parsnip Soup Smoked Ham Hock, Parsley Crème Fraîche – Just reading it off the menu this would have been my second choice, but I actually ended up liking it the most. It sounded very simple, and it was, but there was just so much flavour and it was well executed. It was creamy, rich, velvety and thick and it was a classic velouté which is my favourite style of soup. It was very parsnip forward in flavour but still had the basic aromatics of celery or celeriac (?) and onions etc. to give it depth and natural sweetness. It had excellent texture with the added parsnip chips and the smoked ham hock was the best kind of salt I could ask for.
Shaved Endive and Pear Salad, Toasted Almonds, Preserved Okanagan Cherry Vinaigrette – This was the vegetarian option and it was a pretty good option, although not my first choice. Those sweet and savoury crisps on top were delicious and they weren’t simply parmesan crisps. It was fresh, light and not a beet and goat cheese salad (which I love, but I welcome change). I could have used more toasted almonds but I liked the combination of ingredients and natural flavours.
Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Roasted Cauliflower, Thyme Crumble, Truffle Emulsion – This had my name all over it and I would have ordered this just by looking at the menu. Anything with “egg” and I’m usually there. It reminded me of this Poached Egg I’ve had at L’Abattoir before.
It was definitely the more adventurous appetizer of the three and it showed Chef’s modernist side. The hen’s egg was sous vide and perfect and the yolk was the same texture as the white. I liked everything except for the truffle emulsion which tasted more like cauliflower than truffle to me. The texture of the truffle emulsion was also a bit acquired and I couldn’t get the flavour of the black smear, but my guess is some sort of vegetable ash or squid ink.
It was the most interesting of the three appetizers and seeing a creative risk on a price fixe menu is always appreciated.
Of course I had to get an egg yolk shot for my Runny Egg Yolk Series.
Seared Foie with Pears in Textures – This is not part of the Dine Out Menu, but I ordered it as a special on their a la carte menu. I loved this and it was served with toasted brioche bread. This is how I like my foie gras – as is. Classic and traditional French with a couple modern garnishes. I appreciate other interpretations, but nothing beats a perfect sear on high heat and sweet and acidic elements to enhance foie’s natural and effortless umami.
Diver Caught Scallops, Glazed Wild Mushrooms, Celeriac in Textures, Banyuls Brown Butter ($3.50 each) – This is not on the Dine Out Menu, but an appetizer from their a la carte menu. The scallops were perfect with a caramelized sear on both sides and it delivered to the description.
Dine Out Menu – Entree (Choose one)
House Made Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi, Mushrooms in Textures, Sherry Emulsion, Parmesan – It was the vegetarian main, but as a meat eater I still enjoyed it. The modernist presentation actually made me feel like I was foraging for wild mushrooms. The “dirt” tasted like dehydrated mushroom powder meets a rye bread crumb and it was very interesting although mild in flavour.
The house made Yukon gold potato gnocchi was cut consistently and denser than expected, but pan fried nicely. Depending on how you like your gnocchi this one was more doughy compared to say the lighter pillowy soft ones from Federico’s Supper Club, La Quercia, or CinCin Ristorante.
It was actually a rather filling dish because the sherry emulsion, mushroom puree and sauces were quite creamy and rich, but I enjoyed it. It was a substantial vegetarian dish which made it more appealing. I actually started dipping the gnocchi in the truffle mayo served with the fries. This was my second favourite entree, and I would even recommend it as a shared side if possible.
Pacific Ling Cod Seared a la Plancha, Braised Kale with Preserved Lemon, Fingerling Potatoes Garlic Scape Salsa Verde – I wasn’t too enthusiastic with the description so I probably wouldn’t have chosen this although I enjoy seafood. I loved how the ling cod was served with a crisp golden brown skin which was my favourite part. I also enjoyed the braised and deep fried kale for texture. The fish was moist and cooked perfectly, but without the sauce it was mild and under seasoned for me. The salsa verde was almost like a sweet and tangy relish, but overall I liked the next course the most.
Red Wine and Cinnamon Braised Beef Flatiron, Crispy Polenta, Fraser Valley Carrots, Caper-Raisin Jus – This was my favourite entree and my first or second favourite course of the night. I love braised beef short ribs or braised meats in general so I knew I would love this if they didn’t mess it up, and they didn’t. I didn’t care it was “expected”, it was savoury, sweet and tangy and just well executed and thought out.
The most interesting thing about this was it was braised beef flatiron and not short ribs. I’ve never had flatiron served like this and it tasted like pot roast. Think pulled pork, but beef. It’s an affordable cut and a very smart way to serve it. It was hearty rich comfort food and it was fall apart tender, moist and flavourful.
The carrot puree was beautiful, the cinnamon was mild and the crispy polenta was fabulous. The polenta was super creamy and rich and I ate this with the truffle mayo from the fries too.
Braised Brussel Sprouts, Smoked Bacon, Pickled Raisins $8.50 – This is not on the Dine Out Menu, but a shared side from their a la carte menu. The brussel sprouts were perfectly cooked and not mushy or too crunchy. There was a good amount of smoked bacon which I wouldn’t have minded more brined/braised before being smoked. It wasn’t as tender as I prefer but it was good quality bacon.
West Fries House Made Ketchup, Truffle Aioli $9.50 – This is not on the Dine Out Menu, but a shared side from their a la carte menu. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to make and although I wouldn’t normally order fries here, I’m so glad someone did. If I didn’t know I would have thought I was at a French Bistro. They nailed these fries. Hot, crisp, golden brown outside, creamy and tender inside, consistent, well cut and well seasoned. It’s only pricey until you try them with the house made sauces.
Truffle Mayo – This is no truffle oil mayo, but actual truffle mayo which is leaps better. This is mayo that I wouldn’t judge you for using on everything. I did. I dipped my gnocchi in it, smeared a bit on my polenta and of course ate it with the fries.
- Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, PEI Sharp Cow’s Milk (rare cheese)
- David Wood’s “JULIETTE” Camembert, BC, Goat’s Milk, Sem-soft
- Humboldt Fog California, Surface Ripened Goat Cheese, Ash Layer, Creamy Texture
- Served with warm walnut raisin bread and seasonal compote
- $6.50 per selection
- This is not part of the Dine Out Menu, but we ordered it a la carte.
- They have an excellent selection of local and imported cheeses and the staff are knowledgeable and patient in describing them.
- It was served ideally at room temperature with some candied hazelnuts, fruit jelly, apples, pears and concord grapes.
Humboldt Fog, California, Surface Ripened Goat Cheese, Ash Layer, Creamy Texture – It was soft, creamy and a bit tangy with a signature edible vegetable ash which runs down the middle. I’ve actually had this at Salt Tasting Room before too.
Dine Out Menu – Dessert (Choose one)
Apple Galette Orange Confit, Cranberry Ice Cream – I would have loved more ice cream to match the portion of apple galette, but the galette was a fair size. It was very Parisian rather than American in style so it wasn’t heavy with cinnamon or spices. The galette was served on an apple puree and I would have loved some nutty texture or frangipane. I actually started eating this with little bits of the cheeses and candied hazelnuts (from the cheese plate) sprinkled on top of the tart. I highly recommend doing that, but also come back on a regular night to try the desserts.
Banana Cake with Lemon Caramel Parfait, Maple Butterscotch Marinated Pineapple – This one sounded the best to me on the menu, but the outcome wasn’t how I imagined. I think it was toned down with components and it looked like an ice cream sandwich, but it was a French parfait as the description said. A French parfait is simply a frozen dessert made from cream and sugar and it’s almost like a half frozen mousse meets a semifreddo. I’m a sucker for ice cream and she makes them well here so I would have liked ice cream instead, but that’s another dessert entirely. I’ve had desserts here before on regular nights and I did like them better with more components.
Chocolate Truffle Cake, Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream – The cake was on the drier side, but it could have been just due to the night. The layers were even and it kind of reminded me of a double chocolate chip muffin in roulade cake form. The coffee chocolate chip ice cream was a hit and I could have just had a big bowl of that.
- Chocolate Crème Brûlée, Baked Meringue with Dark Chocolate Mousse and Raspberries, Chocolate Cake Layered with Cream Cheese Butter Cream $15.50
- This is not part of the Dine Out Menu, but I ordered this a la carte from their dessert menu.
- Chocolate Crème Brûlée
- I never go crazy for crème brûlée just because I can find it everywhere and it seems a bit basic, but this was a very good crème brûlée.
- The texture was thick, creamy and smooth and the chocolate tasted caramelized.
- It was a solid recipe and excellent custard. It was the richest of the 3 desserts.
- Chocolate Cake Layered with Cream Cheese Butter Cream
- I would have loved texture in the cake and I actually couldn’t tell it was cream cheese.
- The raspberry sorbet on top helped break up all the repetitive chocolate and sweet notes which is nice.
- Baked Meringue with Dark Chocolate Mousse and Raspberries
- This mousse was well made and I don’t get too excited for mousse, but this was consistent and good.
- I liked having the crispy meringue for textural contrast.
Complimentary Caramel Popcorn Truffles – These are standard for everyone even if you come on a regular night. The flavours change regularly and I’ve never had one I didn’t like. These were salty, sweet and a bit buttery with a creamy centre and it actually tastes like caramel popcorn. It was “Salted Caramel” 2.0 and you can also buy a pack of 6 truffles to go.