2183 West 4th Avenue
T: 604 738 2025
Brief Description: A local high-end favourite, Bishop’s has been in business for 25 years doing what they do best; local, (mostly) organic food with a definite West Coast influence. John Bishop was one of the first chefs in Vancouver to emphasize the importance of local organic food. Prices are high but you are paying for quality.
Yes, yes…I know that I had said Valentine’s Day was over-rated so you probably think that I’m a traitor for talking about my romantic dinner at Bishop’s around Valentine’s Day…but I can explain! For months I had been looking forward to the “Hugs and Fishes” surprise that I had planned for B. It was a couples-only event at the Aquarium where we got to do fun things like make sushi, partake in a behind-the-scenes tour, stuff our faces at the cheese and chocolate buffet, fall asleep to belugas floating past the window, and in the morning, we enjoyed a hot breakfast surrounded by tropical fish. Even though it was classified as a Valentine’s Day event, I wanted to do it anyway because, seriously, how often do you get to sleep at the Aquarium?! To make the night even more memorable, we planned to start our Saturday night (see it wasn’t really even V Day!) with dinner at Bishop’s.
We were the first to arrive at Bishop’s for the 5.30pm seating and this meant that we were able to really take a good look at the dining room. There is one dining room but it is split into two spaces; an upper and lower room, separated by some stairs. It is small and intimate but, thankfully, the tables are not squished together so you can retain some privacy. The room is definitely geared towards more mature tastes and the reason for this became more obvious as other guests started arriving – we were certainly the youngest guests in there by quite a bit! Service was as efficient and friendly as last time and, once again, John Bishop popped out and welcomed all the guests (a small gesture that earns big brownie points with me). Keep in mind that Bishop’s menu is heavily influenced by the season, which means that it changes regularly, so what we ordered may not necessarily be available when you go.
Considering that we were using a gift voucher that we got as a wedding gift, we decided to splurge…big time! Vodka martinis and 6 Kusshi oysters started our meal and the oysters were fresh, chilled and the accompanying dressings escalated the clean flavour of the oysters.
The appetizers currently range from $14 to $19 and offerings include a Butternut Squash Soup, a Winter Bibb and Endive Salad, as well as a Baby Beet and White Anchovy Salad. I ordered the “Outlaw Meats” Lamb and Mushroom Tortellini ($19) which was served on a parsley root puree, with browned butter and sea asparagus, and finished with crispy sage. B opted for the Sloping Hill Pork Terrine ($18) which came with garlic confit and smoked prosciutto bianco, whole wheat brioche and pickles. We both thoroughly enjoyed our appetizers.
Just so that you are prepared, entrees are not cheap at Bishop’s. Prices start at $36 and climb to $41 for the most expensive dish. With only 5 entrées available, choices are limited but each dish is a different protein so there should be something that appeals to every carnivore. There was duck breast, beef tenderloin, and sablefish, in addition to the venison (which I ordered) and the tuna (which is what B ordered). The Sidney Island Venison ($37) was perfectly tender and bathed in a cider jus. The accompanying rye berry risotto complimented the meat by providing some texture and crunch. The Prosciutto Wrapped Albacore Tuna ($36) was impressive with its delicate flavour and Asian-influenced sides.
The dessert menu had a lot of tempting offerings for a dessert traditionalist like me. There was Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée, as well as an Apple Galette, but in the end we both ordered the same thing; Mini Chocolate Soufflé Cake ($14) which was paired with vanilla ice cream and raspberry beet coulis. The soufflé was, of course, perfect. It was light and airy but with an intense chocolate flavour. The candied beet was a highlight.
Final Thoughts: Overall, our Bishop’s experience left a good impression on us. I use the term “experience” because at a place like Bishop’s you are getting more than just a meal at a restaurant; it is about the whole experience. You usually go to these places to celebrate a big occasion or to splurge, so it should not only be about the food but also about how you feel when you are there. However, with that said, a friend asked me that if I had to pay for it myself would I think it was worth it? And my answer was “No”.
Yes, the service was flawless, the food was great, and the evening was incredibly romantic, but the prices are high. Our meal came to about $250, not including tip, so I do have a hard time trying to justify those prices. If money is no concern to you (Hello!! Can we be friends, please?) then your money certainly isn’t wasted at Bishop’s. But for those that value good food and don’t have an unlimited bank account, perhaps just stick to two courses, rather than three.