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Page history last edited by Mark P 15 years, 7 months ago

Background on Vancouver Restaurants


As part of my trip to Vancouver (partially to watch its international fireworks competition), I did much research via chowhound, Vancouver Magazine's restaurant awards, Fodor's discussion boards, and other web sites on good restaurants within the city.


Context for this Particular Restaurant


All signs pointed to West Restaurant as the best restaurant in Vancouver.



I went to it without a reservation early on a Wednesday evening, under the belief that if I couldn't get a table I could probably at least be seated at and eat at the bar.


I needn't have worried. When I arrived around 6:30pm, the restaurant was still mostly empty. As I learned over the course of my trip, citizens of Vancouver tend to eat late. (This may be a feature of major metropolises. Or it may be a property of Vancouver during the summer, when the sun sets late, like 9:00pm.) By the time I left around 8:30pm, virtually all the tables were occupied (and those that weren't I'd bet were reserved).


West Restaurant Review


I had a fairly good but expensive meal at West Restaurant. I probably would've liked it much more if I could have ordered items I tend to like; for every item I ordered, while the menu description was technically accurate, what arrived what not what I envisioned from reading the description.


Upon entering, I was greeted with a very good amuse bouche of smoked tuna with cucumber relish and creme fraiche.


They also provided an assortment of breads at room temperature accompanied by a beautifully sculpted, creamy piece of butter. (You can really identify top notch restaurants by the quality of their butter.) The basket also came with a small bowl of olive oil: very delicate, flavorful, olive-y, and clearly extra-virgin.


For an appetizer, I ordered "roasted Vancouver Island octopus, red chile, and lemon vinegar cucumber and heirloom tomato salad."


As you can tell from the picture, this wasn't an octopus salad. Rather, the octopus was two long tentacles on top of a beefy slice of tomato (yes, I know the menu said red chile, but it really was a beefy tomato), topped with a bit of salad. The green at the bottom of the pile is a cilantro puree.


The dish was pretty good, with each flavor in the pile distinct, though it was a bit hard to get everything in one bite. The octopus actually felt -but didn't taste- beefy -- i.e., solid, ample, and large.


Next came my seared scallops and smoked corn ravioli.


The scallops were excellent, juicy and buttery. Kudos to them for giving me a special scallop knife. The scallops lay on a bed with a few chanterelle mushrooms, peas, and a scattered lima bean or two. These didn't add much.


The two little raviolis were great as well. And when I called them smoked corn ravioli, I was right. They were infused with the smoky flavor that good barbecue has. And we all know how well corn (on the cob) works at barbecues; the smokiness worked equally well in this novel context.


I then had another appetizer-sized dish, salmon ceviche.


This wasn't traditional ceviche. For one, the salmon was cooked (smoked). For two, no acids were involved anywhere.


I loved the smoked salmon. Served in tiny red balls much like caviar, they were nicely salty and exploded wonderfully on the tongue when bit.


The broth, dominated by the flavor of cantaloupe, was refreshing and enjoyable. Lemongrass also accentuated the light and refreshing nature of the soup. I also learned from the waiter that the soup included star anise.


He actually tested me first, asking me whether I could identify the ingredients in the broth. I think he was doing this to see if the notes and photographs I was taking meant I was a real restaurant reviewer or simply a hobbyist. I failed the test, proving my original claim that I just like to eat and document my thoughts.


At this point I was still hungry, as you'd likely guess from the portion sizes, I decided to order the chocolate tasting dessert.


On the left is a chocolate nobo tea mousse with a lemon wafer.


In the middle is a chocolate hazelnut frangelico cake. This was my least favorite dessert. The cake, slightly dry and with a hard chocolate coating, had a mere one hazelnut on top.


On the right is a chocolate sorbet, topped with vanilla ice cream and lemon meringue. I didn't enjoy the hard sugar piece of lemon meringue. I did, however, enjoy the warm chocolate, at least when I ate it by itself. Eating it with the cold ice cream dropped its temperature too fast and ruined it. The ice cream, permeated with slivers of lemon rind, was good on its own.


As I began to think about leaving, the waiter brought me a complimentary dessert, an amuse bouche dessert if you will.


The "banana butter cream wafer" was, for a change, exactly as it sounds. Although it was a bit too buttery for my tastes, I nevertheless enjoyed how infused with the flavor of bananas it was.


The raspberry hazelnut chocolate truffle was good, with a truffle with raspberry filling hidden inside a coating dense with hazelnut fragments. (Is this where all the hazelnuts from the hazelnut cake went?)


The atmosphere at West Restaurant was nice. I'd initially smirked when I read in my guide book that the decor made "the space feel simultaneously energetic and cozy." But it was apt. It did feel energetic, yet I was in my own comfortable space, separate from the energy. Here's the only picture I took of the inside of restaurant:


During dinner I drank a glass of sancerre (a white wine) from France. It was strongly redolent yet mild in taste and with a very shallow finish.


As I said, this meal was expensive -- by far the most expensive from this trip. I paid C$122 including tax (and liquor tax) and tip. The individual items were C$16 for the octopus salad, C$18 for the melon soup, C$14 for the glass of wine, C$39 for the scallops (yes, that's 20 dollars Canadian per scallop!), and C$12.50 for the chocolate tasting.

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