2183 West 4th Avenue
T: 604 738 2025
Brief Description: A local high-end favourite, Bishop’s has been in business for a long time doing what they do best; local, organic food with a definite West Coast influence. John Bishop was one of the first chef’s in Vancouver to emphasize the importance of local organic food. Prices are high but you are paying for quality.
As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, B and I got engaged recently (YAY!!). One of the many great things about getting engaged is that people want to celebrate with you and so my parents offered to pay for us to go for dinner to celebrate (thanks Mum and Dad!). Wanting somewhere romantic, and with my 2010 list fresh in my mind, we didn’t have to think twice about choosing Bishop’s. Bishop’s has been on my “To Do” list since I moved to Vancouver. How could it not be? With 25 years in the business and always one of the most popular restaurants on any foodie’s lips, I have only heard exceptional things about Bishop’s. Unfortunately, the price tags at Bishop’s have always had me opting to take my taste buds (and my wallet) to dinner elsewhere. So yes, first things first, it is expensive. Appetizer’s start at $14 and entrees are around the $35 to $40 mark, meaning that they fall into my “Ouch…” category. But John Bishop has nothing to worry about – the prices don’t seem to deter Vancouver’s more cashed-up diners that are in search of one of the best, local, mostly organic meals in town. There is a reason that Bishop’s has been in business for as long as it has and the formula is quite simple – provide quality food, made from local, organic ingredients and serve it up with a touch of class and top service.
Exuding warm hospitality you could easily be mistaken for thinking that you have stumbled into someone’s house when you walk into Bishop’s. With decor that is heavily influenced by the West Coast, the restaurant is split over two levels and both of the spaces are small and intimate. Personally, I found that Bishop’s was decorated with more mature tastes in mind. That’s my subtle way of saying that it was classy but not overly modern (think comfortable rather than chic).
Service was flawless and, in fact, they went above and beyond what we could have asked for. When I made the reservation I had mentioned that we were having our engagement dinner and upon our arrival, John Bishop (the owner) came over to congratulate us. For two foodie nerds this was pretty exciting! John also served us our appetizers and later on, when dessert was served, the pastry chef had added a pastry “Congratulations” to our plate. All were small gestures but all were noted and it really did add to our experience.
The food itself was good – I would have been livid if it hadn’t been – unfortunately, I was left slightly underwhelmed. I started my meal with potato soup with garlic croutons. The garlic croutons were really good and had a lot of flavour. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for the soup. Don’t get me wrong – it was still good soup but for $14 for a bowl of soup I had expected my socks to be well and truly knocked off but alas, my socks remained on.
Moving on to entrees and I chose the Qualicum Bay Scallops to dine on and they were absolutely melt-in-your-mouth fantastic. The buttery, tender scallops were served with a light and delicate mash and a small portion of savoy cabbage. B went with the other dish that I, too, had been considering, the Seared Lamb Loin and Braised Lamb Shoulder. The loin wasn’t much to get excited about but the braised lamb shoulder was worthy of some taste bud dancing. For dessert we shared a delicious chocolate trio plate.
Final Thoughts: Overall, our experience at Bishop’s was a good one. It was romantic, comfortable and, most importantly, the food was enjoyable. My only complaint is that I don’t think the food was necessarily worth the price. The prices are amongst some of the highest in town and although I didn’t leave with a bad experience, I also didn’t leave amazed. Perhaps my expectations were too high as I often feel let down by the more revered, high-end restaurants (Le Crocodile and Cioppino’s also let me down). I often find that I am more impressed by cheaper (but not cheap) restaurants that offer better value for money (La Brasserie, Nook and Pair are some that spring to mind). With that said, if you can afford it, and you are looking for somewhere to splurge where high standards of food and service are offered then look no further than Bishop’s. It is a long-time local favourite for a reason.