Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, Sep 18th - West Restaurant - Elegant West Coast Table

Amuse Bouche - Carbonated Heirloom Cherry Tomato with Olive Oil Powder
How is it that I have lived in Vancouver for over three years now and I have never eaten at West?  Even stranger is the fact that I assumed it was in Kits.  I don't know why.  I think I had even concocted an image of where I thought it was.  I was quite placed to see that the seafood dishes were unadulterated with Bacon or other meating accoutrements and if they were, the server indicated that adjustments could be made, unlike a certain Gastown establishment who claims to love you....and starts with the letter B. :^)

It is a warm and elegant setting though it is quite a large seating area.  Very neutral, unimposing and forgettable decor.  That is actually meant to be a compliment.  The design was pleasant and not worth noting because it was simply meant to frame the food.  If I leave a place and all I can remember is the heavy wallpaper or light fixtures, there is something amiss.

I was pleased to see that in addition to the Seafood and Beefy Tasting menu, they offered a Vegetarian option.  It was not in the main menu, odd.   You have to request it.  Actually, I do not know that I would have known if I hadn't visited their website beforehand.  It is Ovo Lacto and not Vegan.

Unlike, other tasting menu's I have seen, I would say that the portions per course were not reduced in size.  I had five courses to D's three and noting his portions, and they were certainly on par.  So be prepared.

We ordered a Domaine de Beaurenard Châteauneuf du Pape 2007

Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape 2007
Dinner starts with a very intriguing amuse bouche.  It was a chilled, peeled heirloom Cherry Tomato dusted with Olive Oil Powder.  What was most unusual about it was the fact that it had somehow been infused with carbonisation.  It sparkled on the tongue.  Amazing.  I could have had a whole salad of them.

My starter was a Goat Cheese and Burnt Onion Crepe, Okanagan Peach, a touch of Coffee and Hazelnut Emulsion and topped with a Porcini Tuile.  The crepe was served as a roulade with the creamy Goat Cheese.  It was a cold starter.  I quite enoyed it but I did find the temperature a tad strange.  When I say cold, I do not mean that it was not warm, it was ice box cold.  Though that was fine for the cheese, it was not the ideal temperature for the crepes.  Still, very pleasant.

D went on a meatastic meal selection.  His starter was the Sweet Breads and Beef Tongue.  Deep breaths.  D offered me a taste.  Hmmm.  He insisted that they were exceptionally mild and very tender.  Since the glands and at times, brains, are pretty much fat free, the gaminess is removed.  It had a texture not too disimilar to Fois Gras, not the best way to draw me in D.  I have said that I am a taste based Vegetarian/Pescotarian with the exception of some dishes which I mentally cannot 'digest'.  Those mostly fall into the category of Offal.  The irony of the homonym cousin of that word always seemed very appropriate to me.  The Beef Tongue was sliced paper thin.  D quite liked the dish.  Oddly enough for a French Canadian, that was his first go at Sweet Breads.

Goat Cheese Crepe with Porcini Tuile
My second was lovely warm Potato and Roasted Garlic and Leek Soup.  Now contrasting the first course, this was a bit of a switch as a warm soup. It was gentle hug of warm, not piping hot.  Very smooth and velty yet not suffocating in richness.

Crispy Poached Egg Summer Corn Succotash
My third course was the odd man out in the flow of the set meal.  The other pieces have the commonality of texture and balanced richness and then there is succotash.  Strange.  I can only assume they needed to fill out the menu and this was the best price fit?  I dunno.  So on the dish alone, I would say it was nice.  It probably had a better fit on a breakfast or brunch plate.  It was a soft Poached Egg breaded in Panko Crumbs served with a Summer Corn Succotash topped with a Coriander Hollandaise.  Strange thing was that the Egg was not poached in the traditional sense.  They cooked it Sous Vide, in Shell, then breaded and quickly fried to crisp it up.  Strictly speaking, I would call that a soft boiled egg.  One very interesting difference was that with this cooking method, the egg was evenly cooked throughout unlike when you softboil an egg.  The Succotash was fresh and bright and the Hollandaise was light.

Smoked Ricotta and Artichoke Agnolotti
My main was a Agnolotti with Artichoke and housemade Smoked Ricotta, topped with Fennel, Orange, and Parmesan. The fresh pasta was very good and really nicely cooked.  The Smoked Ricotta was wonderful.  I need to figure out how to do that or buy that.  The only sad point on this dish was that someone got out of hand with the Fennel Seeds.  They were whole toasted Fennel Seeds so they added an unnecessary course texture and a very strong distraction.  Once I set them aside, the dish was much nicer.

Pork Jowls with Carmelised Apricot Risotto
D had the the Snake River Farm Kurobuta Roasted Pork Jowls aka Cheeks. It was served with Carmelised Apriocot Risotto, Kale and a Fruit Chutney. The glaze on the pork was a tad to sweet for his taste though really well cooked. It is a lament of D's that Pork is always sweet glazed.

As part of my, set menu I had a pre-dessert and they were nice enough to give us both one.  It was a Berry Sorbet.  It was a pure block of sugar.  Neither of us finished it.

My set dessert was a Dark Chocolate Bourbon Pot de Creme.  It was pleasant.

The star postre was the cheeses we ordered.  We had the Manchego, Quebec Brie and Poplar Grove Tiger Blue.  The cheeses are served with fruit, toasted Walnut bread and what I think was quince jelly.  The Quebecois Brie was spectacular.  Brie and soft cheeses here are not as punchy with the pasturised milk but this one did not hold back.  The salty Manchego was a nice balance to the creamy soft brie.  The Tiger Blue has been one of my favourite cheeses for a while.  It is a VERY strong blue cheese and is not for everyone.  If you like strong blue cheese, I insist you try this one.

The overdose of Fennel Seeds aside, I enjoyed my meal.  The only downside of the whole evening was the insanely loud, woman sat next to us.  Seriously.  She was speaking several dozen decibels over everyone else.  I could hear her more clearly than D.  I could sense by the muted tones of her friend that she was rather embarassed.  Brutal.  If I wasn't already on course 2 by the time she was seated, I would have asked to be moved.

We finished dinner with a nice frothy Irish Coffee. MMMMM

Cost: $$$-$$$$
Ambience: subdued and warm
Staff: Attentive, knowledgeable and friendly
Wine list: stellar

West Restaurant
2881 Granville St
Vancouver, BC V6H
(604) 738-8938
West Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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