Restaurant: Burdock & Co. (Fall Menu)
Cuisine: Canadian/Organic/West Coast
Last visited: Nov. 25, 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC (Mount Pleasant/Main Street)
Address: 2702 Main St.
Phone: (604) 879-0077
Transit: NB Main St FS E 12 Av
Price Range: $30-50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Chef/Owner Andrea Carlson
- Seasonal menu/Weekly changes
- Local and sustainable ingredients
- Mostly organic
- Emphasis on seafood & vegetables
- Vegetarian friendly options
- Vegan friendly options
- Gluten free friendly options
- Dairy free friendly options
- Nut free friendly options
- Wine/beer/cocktail list
- No reservations
- Tues. – Sat. dinner only at 5PM ’til Late
- Twitter: @BurdockAndCo
**Recommendations: Burdock Boilermaker cocktail, Rosemary Smoked Mussels, Halibut & Braised Radish, Heritage Pork and Burdock Sausage, Slow Roasted Bison Ribs, Braised Lamb Neck Risotto, Sunchoke Terrine, Sieglinde Potatoes with Pickled Garlic and Marjoram, FarmHouse La Pyramide Cheese
Vancouver is no easy place to open a restaurant, and while this spot has seen its turnovers, Burdock & Co. is here to stay. Of course no restaurant opens with the intentions on going under, but in this city you never know. Even “the best” struggle to make it. It doesn’t matter how good the chef, food, and decor are, you still need to open at the right time, in the right place, and serve the right menu to the right people… okay wait, stop.
I had to re-read my post from my first visit and I realized I was repeating myself. I really don’t have much to add and I said it all there. Basically, Burdock & Co. opened in the right place at the right time; and she’s doing a solid job satisfying the Main Street crowd without jeopardizing her culinary philosophy. The restaurant and ambiance is as honest as her cooking. What you see is what you get, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.
On this occasion I was invited to the launch of her fall/winter menu. Being in Vancouver, where there are four distinct seasons and limited growing periods, I was curious what chef and owner Andrea Carlson would do. She is known for her commitment to local and seasonal ingredients, which is what many chefs nowadays claim to do, but here, it feels natural and real.
The fall menu featured heartier courses and I actually enjoyed it more than her summer menu. Surprise, surprise! I would think it would be the other way around, but I tried almost the whole menu both times (I missed a few the first time) and the fall menu was more satisfying. It was not necessarily stronger, but the flavours were bolder, ingredients more filling, and thus more satisfying. Being fall, these characteristics are somewhat expected. It’s a comforting time.
Compared to last time, there was more of a focus on meat than seafood, which was not the original theme of the restaurant (from what I was told), so this could be due to tastes of her clientele. She also took away some minor details, but it was not lazy. Her food was never finicky, but to keep up with volume and production, there had to be some reasonable sacrifice which wouldn’t make or break the menu.
I mentioned in my first post it was a bit “granola” for my tastes, but it’s in no way boring. Her vision of “meat and potatoes” and basic dishes are inspiring and she still offers good variety. While I would not re-order every course, it left me something to come back for and recommend. Her style is consistent with a focus on quality ingredients, and as I mentioned in my last post, it’s “rustic and refined” and professionally executed.
It only opened April this year, and they seem to have already gotten the grasp of running a restaurant and making their clientele happy. I think she’s usually in the kitchen too, which is promising and helps with consistency. She’s truly passionate about ingredients and cooking and Burdock & Co. fits naturally and beautifully into Vancouver’s food scene.
On a random note, I’m 99% sure it’ll get a Vancouver Magazine nomination for “Best New Restaurant” and have a good shot at winning it.
On the table:
All cocktails are developed by one of Vancouver’s favourite and “best” bartenders, Lauren Mote. She would be in my top 5 bartenders in Vancouver list and she did a fantastic job at Burdock. They were seasonally inspired cocktails and the menu was limited, but well thought out. There was a whiskey, gin, beer and wine cocktail which covered the basics and they were suitable for Burdock and their clientele.
Le Vigneron – 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
- Pinot Noir, Solera Brandy, Dry Vermouth, Caraway & Fennel Shrub, Cascade Celery Bitters $12
- It was either wine or whiskey, used to be gin, but I went for the wine cocktail.
- It was very rich and too sweet so I had to sip it and really take my time with it.
- I got quite a bit of orange and it was fruity, herbal, savoury and sweet, but sweet was most dominant.
- It was a boozier cocktail and not for everyone.
**Burdock Boilermaker – 5/6 (Excellent)
- Whiskey, Saison, Gingerbeer, Burdock Root & Sour, Ginger, Plum & Rootbeer Bitters $12
- There were two whiskey cocktails and this was the whiskey-beer cocktail.
- I’m still learning to like beer, but someone else ordered this and I tried it and wanted to trade drinks.
- If you’re not keen on beer, this did not taste like beer. It was distinctly gingerbeer and it was light and almost refreshing.
- It was not too sweet and it tasted like a sophisticated soda. It was an artisan root beer meets quality ginger beer.
- There was a nice sweetness balanced with acidity and it was a great starter cocktail.
- I would recommend this and order it again… even if you don’t like beer, ginger or whiskey.
- It’s all about the person making it and you could be convinced with this cocktail.
Gondwana (Non-alcoholic cocktail) – 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
- Caraway & Fennel Shrub, Mumbai Spiced Red Tea, Clingstone Peach Bitters $7
- I mentioned non-alcoholic cocktails in my Top 10 Food Trends of 2013 post, and they offer a couple here.
- This was a sour soda and the caraway and fennel shrub (drinking vinegar) was dominant.
- It was quite aggressively sweet and sour (as shrubs can be), but it was still a good drink.
- It was nice and festive and a bit of a palate cleanser between courses.
**Cascade Silver Fizz - 4/6 (Very good)
- Pear & Anise Cordial, Lime, Kensington Dry Aromatic Bitters, Egg White, Sparkling Water $7
- This would be good with or without booze.
- Call it an old “cocktail trend”, but it has its place and I really like egg white foam cocktails (mind you, it has to be made well and serve a purpose in the drink).
- It was more tangy than sweet and I liked the frothy egg white foam which gave it body and texture.
- It was not quite fruity with pear, and I would have loved more pear, but it was a refreshing citusy soda with a hint of exotic spices.
- Pickled Garlic, Fennel and Cress $12
- These are a signature and it wasn’t like how “moules-frites” is a signature at many restaurants in Vancouver, but it actually felt original to Burdock & Co.
- It wasn’t moules-frites, which I still love, but so many restaurants (French bistro or not) are serving them, so it was nice to have a different version of mussels.
- These were smoked instead of steamed and it gave the mussels excellent flavour.
- The smokiness did not mask the natural flavour of the mussels, but it was smoky in the nose and on the palate.
- The mussels were well cooked, plump and juicy and the fennel salad was crisp and fresh.
- I’m reading my recap of the mussels from my old post when I first tried them and I’m repeating myself again (sign of consistency)… so you get the point. Order them.
- (V) $6
- I wasn’t expecting to enjoy these as much as I did. If I came on my own I would have overlooked them.
- They were the snoozer on the menu, but Andrea has the talent to take a simple ingredient and reintroduce it. She can make you appreciate it on another level.
- I’m not making potatoes at home like this, and not many people are.
- I would rather have it as a shared side, but they were good enough to eat as is, so I could see why they served it as an appetizer.
- The stone bowl was super hot which kept the potatoes nice and hot.
- The fingerling potatoes were aromatic and well infused with garlic and herb flavour.
- Marjoram is underused and it’s comparable to oregano meets thyme. It’s a bit lemony and mildly minty with a hint of pine.
- The hot potatoes were tossed in a warm and savoury olive oil and vinegar dressing which had a nice bright acidity to bring out flavours.
- The potato flesh was buttery, the skin thin and tender but not crisp, and the sauce lighter than typical melted butter.
- I loved the shaved slices of pickled garlic which was a change from plain garlic.
- Something crispy would be nice, even if it was garlic chips, but it was still a solid dish.
- I love potatoes, but I would never really want to eat a bowl of potatoes like this… but I would consider it here.
- Sunroot Humous, Wild Mushroom and Baby Cabbage Saute (V) $14
- This was a last minute addition at the end of the meal, but it was the last savoury dish to try, so why not?
- It was the replacement for the Gluten-Free Potato Waffle I tried in the summer. Both brunch appropriate items.
- The bread was a bit chewy and soggy, but the smoky sunroot hummus was a nice change.
- I didn’t necessarily like it better than regular hummus, but it was lighter in texture and not as starchy.
- The hummus was thin and there was a bit of lemon in it, but I couldn’t really taste it when I ate everything together.
- It was a bit mealy in texture and the sunroot (sunchoke) was pureed with chickpeas as well to help bind it.
- I could bite into bits of chickpea skins which was intentional, and the wild mushrooms and cabbage were simply sautéed.
- The poached egg was wonderfully runny, but it was a bit dark to capture it.
- It was very simple and something you might do trying to impress someone at home on a Sunday morning, and there were no surprises.
- There was nothing bad about it, but it wasn’t a show stopper.
- Crispy Skin, Charred Chili Vinegar $14
- I wrote about it on my first visit and it’s changed a bit now.
- I actually liked the fried chicken more this time because it wasn’t pounded so thin and I could tell it was chicken and not pork.
- It was still similar to a pork katsu and I don’t see the hype for it, but people seem to love it.
- It used to be served with crispy chicken skin which I liked, but didn’t see the point of, so I didn’t mind that they took those away. (I can’t believe I just said that out loud.)
- The charred chili vinegar was also much thicker this time.
- For more details on this dish see my original post here.
- I ordered it to settle the curiosity, but I wouldn’t order it again… but I seem to be minority.
- Dandelion and Potato Salad $12
- This is another dish I had last time and it’s another mainstay.
- It sounded too “meat and potatoes” (it was), but it goes beyond the menu name and description.
- It was a sophisticated “Bangers and No-Mash”.
- The sausage was housemade and it was filled in a pork casing, but it wasn’t snappy and I love that snappy skin.
- I would have liked it more char grilled and crispy on the exterior, but the inside was delicious!
- It was quite soft, but not mushy or spreadable and it held together with a smooth consistency.
- It was a plump and fatty, tender, moist and juicy sausage.
- I almost thought it was chicken or turkey because it was so white, but it wasn’t nearly as lean although not oily either.
- The sausage was pureed with shallots, garlic, thyme and burdock, but it wasn’t strong with apparent spices or herbs.
- I could really taste natural pork flavour and it was very savoury and not just salty.
- The sausage had tiny little black bits in it and I’m not sure if that was the burdock root, but it tasted almost like olives or mushrooms.
- I’m not too familiar with burdock root, but it is often used steeped in teas or to make beer.
- I think the sausages could have been braised in a burdock beer, or burdock and beer, and it gave it umami.
- The potato salad was not a traditional potato salad, but just boiled and diced potatoes with mayo dolloped on the side.
- They were buttery with a waxy flesh and not starchy.
- I would have loved if half were crispy for a textural contrast.
- They were very simple, but tender and perhaps quickly sauteed in lemon and butter.
- The lemon was subtle if used at all so I wouldn’t mind more acidity to cut the rich sausage and mayo.
- They were simple, but still fine dining potatoes.
- The dollops of whole grain mustard mayo was house made and super thick and fatty.
- It was creamy and garlicky, but a bit bland and I could use way more mustard because it had no kick.
- I could feel the mustard seeds, but I couldn’t taste much mustard flavour. A touch of dijon mustard would be nice too.
- I’m not used to seeing dandelion greens draped on sausage, but dandelion and burdock beer is something I read about here, so maybe that’s what it was going for.
- The dandelion greens were bitter so they helped cut the fattiness of the sausage. They’re good for digestion as well.
- I would have liked more of a veggie component, or some fried sauerkraut patties or crispy pretzels to dip into the mayo, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this dish.
- If Martha Stewart made Bangers and Mash, it might come out like this.
- Nasturtium Salad, Pistachio, Gala Apple Vinaigrette (VE) $13
- I didn’t give this enough credit in the moment, but thinking back I actually loved it.
- This sunchoke terrine was impressive in concept, technique, execution and flavour. It was very suitable for Vancouver and the area.
- I enjoy meat terrines, but this didn’t make me miss them. They’re incomparable and I appreciated this version, vegan or not.
- It was such a creative way to use sunchokes.
- I’m not sure the exact process, but it involved roasting and smashing and she treated it like a meat terrine.
- The chunks of caramelized sunchoke were still large and meaty and it was sliced and pan seared for crispness, but served room temperature.
- It was sweet, savoury and tangy from a sweet and fruity Gala Apple vinaigrette.
- The gala apple pieces were powdery though and there were not enough pistachios for the amount of terrine.
- The addition of pistachios reminded me of Mortadella and it was a nice overlap and play.
- I could see the pistachios only sprinkled on top, but they didn’t contribute to flavour and only texture, so I wish it had more.
- I just loved the overall technique and idea and it was a thoughtful and inspiring.
- This had legs and it could be a mainstay. It could also easily turn into a soup and it would be excellent.
- Baby Artichoke, Chestnut Browned Butter (V) $11
- I really wanted to like this more than I did.
- The flavours are right up my ally and I was looking forward to this dish the most. It just had “fall comfort food” written all over it.
- People kept calling them gnocchi, which you could, but I wouldn’t. They were a distant cousin of gnocchi.
- I like that they called them “squash dumplings“, but then I also expected something along the lines of a ravioli or pierogi.
- The dumpling noodles were doughy and dense rather then pillowy light and fluffy. I would have preferred them lighter.
- I would have liked them as traditional Northern gnocchi in texture, or in ravioli form, but ravioli form would remind me of Rob Feenie’s Butternut Squash Ravioli at Cactus Club, which I actually love.
- It was a sweeter dumpling dough, but I couldn’t actually taste much squash.
- I wished they were a bit creamier and softer rather than chewy.
- They were pan fried in chestnut browned butter, nutmeg, and artichoke, but I couldn’t taste the chestnut.
- I would have love pieces of roasted chestnut and one more ingredient to give it substance, or it was a bit plain or repetitive.
- Mushrooms, brussels sprouts, hazelnuts or even cranberries would have just given in more life and flavour, but I liked the sound of it on the menu.
- Smoked Tofu, Roasted Crab Apple, Kale, Porter Caramel (VE) $12
- This was a vegan plate for a vegan. It would be hard to appreciate it outside of that context.
- I love beans and cassoulet, but there was a bitterness to the dish I couldn’t overlook.
- It was a meaty stew, but quite mushy and I wanted some contrasting texture.
- They tried with the fried tofu “fries” and crispy kale leaves, but it wasn’t quite enough.
- There were some crisp deep fried matchstick smoked tofu, but they were also a bit chewy.
- On the menu as the second ingredient, the tofu came across as a main component, but it was used more as a garnish.
- The Porter Caramel (made from stout) was the cold brown puree on the plate and that was the bitter component.
- It was bitter and sweet which I don’t mind, but I found the flavours a bit mucky and muddled when the puree was mixed in.
- Everything had to be eaten together, but the ratio of components seemed a bit off which meant the flavours were a bit off.
- The tartness of the crab apple helped break things up, but it also seemed a bit random. It was almost the “roasted tomato” on the side.
- It just needed more savoury sauce and umami and the cassoulet itself didn’t seem to extend further than black beans and lentils.
- The thought and effort was there, but the flavour acquired and visually not as appetizing as everything else.
- Poached Egg, Candied Bacon $14
- This is not something I would have ordered here, but it was a popular request by the group.
- I’ve tried Andrea’s ramen and noodle bowls at Harvest Community Foods and again at Burdock & Co. on my first visit, but I’m just not the clientele for it.
- I prefer authentic versions, which is not comparable to this.
- I can appreciate this for being a modern ramen bowl and I wrote about it in an article here.
- On that note, this was probably my favourite ramen bowl out of her 4-5 versions I’ve tried now.
- There are expectations that come with hearing “ramen” and it’s hard to let go of what you already know and expect.
- It’s rare to find a beef based ramen broth in Vancouver let alone Japan, so I found this more Taiwanese in style.
- Taiwanese and Chinese are known for their delicious beef brisket noodles, and I found this a hybrid of Japanese ramen (by the way, ramen is actually Chinese) and Taiwanese beef noodles.
- The noodles were firm, but the broth not quite hot enough.
- I could taste some star anise and cinnamon flavours in the broth, and it tasted like a Taiwanese style beef broth.
- Vietnamese style beef broths (pho) also use those spices, but the darker broth and this style is typically Taiwanese.
- The soup was rich, smoky, savoury, sweet, aromatic, and delicious and I loved the depth of flavour.
- It was perhaps on the salty side, but I have a high tolerance for salt so it was fine for me.
- The big slice of beef brisket was also tender, moist and less fatty than ones you normally see at Asian restaurants.
- This was good, but catered towards a Western palate.
- Spinach, Smoked Chili Oil (V) $13
- This was the only thing I really wasn’t keen on.
- It was served hot, but the broth was very bland and not really sweet or savoury or anything.
- It was a thick broth and I love squash and miso, but the flavours were so mild and I couldn’t taste the smoked chili oil either.
- I could taste some ginger and sesame, and there were pieces of tender squash and vegetables, but it didn’t stand out especially after the beef ramen.
- It was a vegetarian option, but I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be vegan.
- Spicy Tomato Glaze, Charred Green Onion $20
- Home run. I want another. This was my highlight of her fall menu and dinner.
- Short ribs are almost always good and it’s an affordable cut of meat that tends to showcase well.
- It came with 3 bison ribs.
- The meat slipped off the bone, but they were not pre-boiled.
- People debate with whether meat slipping off the bone is good or bad because smoked ribs shouldn’t really do that, but I don’t mind.
- The connective tissue came off with the meat and the bone was clean, but the tissue was also broken down and not tough.
- Being bison, it was going to be leaner than beef, so I was worried it was going to be dry, but it was fine.
- Mind you it was covered with sauces, but I didn’t care. The meat was still tender and moist.
- The spicy tomato glaze was also great and it was basically a home made barbeque sauce.
- It was thick, savoury, tangy and slightly sweet and I think it had some cinnamon.
- There was some heat and it had a kick, but it wasn’t that spicy. It was mild.
- The other sauce was a yogurt and I love tomato sauces and sour cream together, so this was similar.
- The yogurt balanced the mild heat of the spicy tomato glaze.
- It was a bit Middle Eastern in style and the sauces enhanced the bison ribs rather than masking it.
- Those Sieglinde Potatoes with Pickled Garlic and Marjoram would make a great side to this.
- This was my next favourite fall menu item. I would order it again.
- For many downtown restaurants, lamb can be a hard seller, so lamb neck was definitely bold and risky. I loved it – pushing palates and boundaries.
- Lamb neck can be a really rough cut and it’s a bit gelatinous and fatty, so ideally it should be braised like it was.
- It was a bit gamey as lamb can be and served shredded on top of the risotto. There was a lot too.
- Naturally it will be a bit gelatinous, but it wasn’t overly so and it had good flavour.
- It was a richer and heartier red wine infused risotto, but the rice was creamy and nutty.
- Red wine risotto is a traditional dish in Northern Italy, but the addition of lamb neck was modern.
- The red wine and lamb jus was well absorbed in the rice, but there was also some extra poured over top.
- I won’t say no to more jus and it didn’t make the risotto runny.
- The wine was also mild and not overpowering or bitter.
- I would have loved some pomegranate seeds and mint leaves or even yogurt on this. I actually did eat it with some yogurt from the bison ribs.
- It was just missing a bit of acidity and bright flavour as to why I wanted pomegranate seeds and mint.
- The lamb neck can be gamey so the mint just offsets it, and it’s a classic pairing.
- Hives 4 Humanity Urban Honey (V) $12
- This is another signature. I saw several people ordering it on my first visit, but it sounded like something I could do at home so I overlooked it.
- I’m so glad it showed up on the table this time because I understand why people love it now.
- For what it was, it was excellent and I would order it too. It works as an appetizer or cheese plate for dessert.
- While it is something you could do at home, the dish had integrity and style.
- It was only three ingredients and it was very “let the ingredients speak for themselves”.
- It was simple, natural, and effortless, but thoughtfully considered.
- The bread was excellent. It was chewy, lightly toasted, and had a nice thick and crisp crust with good nutty flavour.
- The La Pyramide cheese was a soft, ash-ripened goat’s cheese and it wasn’t too gamey or goat-y.
- It was rich, complex, and buttery in flavour and you get a good chunk on each piece of toast.
- The cheese was served a bit colder than room temperature though, but it was a beautiful cheese.
- Her selection of honey also supports Hives 4 Humanity.
- Last time I came this was a Salted Caramel Apple Pot Pie with a gluten free crust, but this new version was much better.
- I really don’t recall the white scoop being bitter almond yogurt or tasting like it, but I liked the idea.
- I’m almost sure it was a vanilla ice cream, but the website says differently.
- The apple crisp was bubbling hot with big chunks of tender semi-sweet apples bathing in salted caramel sauce.
- The salted caramel thing I’m seriously over, but it’s still good and it has its place.
- It wasn’t that salty though and I could have used more salt, and it was the sweetest of the desserts.
- The crunchy crumble was much better than the gluten free crust and it just had more flavour and texture.
- An apple crisp is an apple crisp, but she puts some personality into it.
- I’m pretty sure this dollop was the bitter almond yogurt, not the vanilla ice cream like the website says again.
- The bitter almond yogurt tasted like plain freshly whipped cream.
- Frangipane is one of my favourite components used in pastries.
- I love nutty desserts, so naturally I knew I would like this.
- The frangipane was soft and moist with a bit of chew and a crisp caramelized top.
- It was a simple pear and frangipane tart with no surprises and it was classic.
- I missed her personal touch with this whether it was adding a savoury herb to the crumble, or even just serving it with a bitter almond yogurt.
- This was another “no surprise”, but good for what it was.
- It was made with East Van Roasters Chocolate, which is a non-profit organization and social enterprise.
- It was rich, creamy, smooth and consistent and maybe about 60-65% dark chocolate.
- It was well made with perhaps a hint of coffee to bring out the flavour, but it didn’t taste like espresso.
- I prefer 70%+ dark chocolate, but this wasn’t too sweet although decadent like most chocolate pots de cremes are.
- Again, just like the other desserts, she probably could have done more with it, but it was enjoyable.
- I feel awful because I didn’t know Andrea’s mother was gluten free and the one making the cookies (not the macarons) here.
- I already wrote about them in my previous post and I wasn’t too keen on them (no turning back now) – but for the full rundown see here.