3689 West 4th Avenue
T: 604 676 1007
Brief Description: A small, intimate neighbourhood restaurant located on the corner of Alma and West 4th, La Quercia offers exceptional Italian food and wine at reasonable prices.
Occasionally on my dining out adventures I stumble across a restaurant that completely wows me and leaves me wanting to return immediately. Although I had heard only glowing reviews of La Quercia and although the restaurant is always booked solid, I didn’t really believe that La Quercia would be one of those restaurants. Boy, was I mistaken! Considering that I’ve only been once, this may be a bit premature, but I’m going to go out there and say that it is already up there with my favourite restaurants in the city.
The restaurant is quite small – it likely only seats about a dozen tables. The interior of La Quercia is minimalistic, naturally lit and very welcoming. Wood flooring, framed art and simple black seating paired with crisp white tablecloths, gives it a classic style. Seating is somewhat squishy – we were practically sitting with a couple and their child for dinner which wasn’t exactly romantic. However, it didn’t dampen the experience too much for us. We were immediately welcomed at the door and given an introduction to how the menu works. Quite simply, you have two choices: 1/ Order a la carte, or 2/ Order Alla famiglia where you and your fellow diners are at the mercy of the chef. The chef chooses your dishes (based on your guidance, of course) and you and your companions share a 5 or 9 (!!) course dinner. As I’ve previously mentioned I love the concept of sharing food and so we could not pass up the opportunity for the 5 course Alla famiglia. Service was very attentive throughout our meal as the waiter took a lot of time to explain the daily specials and what each dish was when it was served. Perhaps it was because we were there for the 5.30pm seating on a Sunday but we could not fault the service. With our order for the Alla famiglia dinner in, all we could do was sit back and sip on our drinks, awaiting the arrival of the first course.
Course 1: Lattuga con salsa Bolzanese (Butter lettuce, dressing of chive, horseradish, egg). This dish reminded me of egg salad, which I just adore (it brings back lots of great childhood memories). Refreshing and light, it made for an appropriate starter.
Course 2: Sformato di Parmiggiano (Parmesan soufflé with aged balsamic). I was glad when it was delivered to the table as it was one of the dishes that had caught my eye on the regular menu. We both thoroughly enjoyed the soufflé - it was light and fluffy but had a lot of cheesy flavour. Delicious.
Course 3: Quail and Pork Belly drizzled with an anonymous, yet incredible sauce. The pork belly was the highlight of this dish. It was perfectly tender with a crunchy piece of crackling that oozed delicious fat that had B and I battling it out for a piece. I have not had a piece of pork that has tasted that good in a very long time. Hats off to the chef. Quail is a meat that is lost on me and although I did try it, I gave up the small offering of bird to B. It was his birthday after all ;). We used the complimentary bread to mop up the rest of the sauce. We weren’t letting any of it go to waste.
Course 4: Agnolotti di Guido (Stuffed pasta, veal, chard, ricotta, parmigiano). This dish was absolutely delicious. The delicate jus that lightly coated the pasta parcels complimented the ingredients in the pasta, rather than stealing the limelight from them.
Course 5: Spaghetti al’amatriciana (smoked pork cheek, chillies, san marzano tomatoes). A rustic and traditional spaghetti. Simply divine.
Course 6: Tender lamb and vegetables. This was a surprise dish as we thought we were done at course 5. Thank goodness they were being generous as this dish was one of the highlights of the meal. The lamb was juicy and tender and the vegetables were extremely tasty (including the brussel sprouts!).
Course 7: Apple-Raisin Strudel, Stewed Rhubarb and Crema de Limone, and a Blueberry Semifreddo. At this point, we were so impressed by all of the other courses that they could have served us up dirty gym socks for dessert and we still would have left happy. The fact that there were 3 dessert options instantly won me over (they had me at “hello”). If that wasn’t enough, they then had to go and make them all vastly different yet each as spoon-lickingly wonderful as the next. My favourite was the Blueberry Semifreddo – it was dense and creamy, yet refreshing. The ice-cream that topped the strudel was a close second. I cannot recall exactly what the flavour was but my taste-buds remember every happy moment of it. Even though the Semifreddo and the ice-cream were my favourite part of the dessert that didn’t take anything away from the deliciousness of the other desserts. What a fantastic way to end an amazing meal!
Final Thoughts: Well, I think it goes without saying that I loved our visit to La Quercia. Honestly, I could not fault the experience one bit. The value for money was a big reason why I enjoyed it so much – we received all of this exquisite food for only $43 each. With quite a few drinks and gratuities, we left spending about $160 for the two of us; well worth it for the evening that we had. I found La Quercia to be unpretentious and inviting. I will definitely be returning and I will be recommending it to anyone and everyone. Make sure you book well ahead – the word is out – so it fills up fast.