2881 Granville Street
T: 604 738 8938
Brief Description: One of the gems in the Vancouver restaurant crown. West is where local West Coast ingredients meet fine dining. Prices are high but for the service and the quality, it is not unjustified.
Another birthday has come and gone and I am now a year older (and hopefully a year wiser). B and I were apart for my birthday so we only got around to celebrating on Friday night (a month later!). As a birthday gift he told me that I could choose any restaurant in the city for my birthday dinner – his treat. Woot! It took a few days of deliberation before I settled on West (other contenders were Le Crocodile, Cioppino’s, and L’Abbatoir). I wanted to ensure that Dine Out Vancouver wasn’t on when we went and so last Friday night was when we finally settled into the chef’s table at West, eagerly awaiting to be spoiled.
I did find the menu slightly confusing to read (more so the on-line version) as it has grown considerably in size since the last time I was there. The menu consists of your standard “first course” and “main course” selections yet there are also “elements”, which are basically smaller plates. These “elements” are then categorized into sea, starch, pasture, and vegetable options. As well as all of that, there is also a sea tasting menu and a land tasting menu. Phew! There is a lot going on. (Now that I’ve summarized it, it doesn’t seem so confusing!).
The small touches that makes West stand out from other local restaurants shouldn’t be overlooked. Freshly baked miniature bread rolls with olive oil and housemade butter were constantly topped up and, once we had placed our order, an amuse bouche of creamy carrot soup was delivered to our table. The kitchen knew it was my birthday in advance and my dessert was piped with “Happy Birthday” which was a nice touch. These things all help to create the experience.
B, always the food enthusiast, decided to order the land tasting menu which consists of six courses, plus extras like an amuse bouche and petit fours. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat all that so ordered from the standard menu. Let’s start with the dishes that I ordered as there are less of them…
I started with a delicate, but meaty, venison carpaccio which was finished with a truffle pecorino (hello!?) and a sweet basil gel.
My main course was the daily special which was an Artic Char, served with Dungeness crab, savoy cabbage and bacon.
We were then given a taster of pineapple infused with passionfruit and a pineapple and passionfruit sorbet. This was spectacular. So simple but so delicious.
Dessert for me was chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! I ordered the chocolate tasting menu which was made up of three small desserts; warm chocolate cake filled profiterole, 75% cocoa barry chocolate ganache with raspberry compote and ice-cream, and raspberry chocolate almond cake, milk chocolate semi freddo and almond croquant. It was honestly a little too much for me after having the other two courses so if you do order it make sure you have someone to help. My favourite part was easily the warm chocolate cake filled profiterole.
B’s land tasting menu was epic. He sat like a King on his throne all night, sampling this and slurping on that. You would have thought it was his birthday celebration! Ha!
The first dish that unfortunately we couldn’t get a good photo of (blame the booze!) was a plate of Oyama proscuitto, finished with housemade cheese, plum jellies and basil. I really wish we had a photo of this because it was splendid. The housemade cheese especially stood out.
The second dish was Thiessen quail, Pemberton beets and toasted almond gel – absolutely wonderful.
The next dish made me squirm a little when I read it on the menu; pickled veal tongue with foraged mushroom risotto. I absolutely love risotto…but tongue?! Tongue, I do not like. But I did try it…and I still don’t like it. Yes, it is a mental thing!
Apple cider braised pork cheeks were up next. They were finished with cous cous, apple and brown butter jus. I was too busy enjoying my fish to sample this but now looking at the picture I can’t help but wonder what on earth I could have been thinking?!
At this point, you could also add a selection of two cheese for a $10 supplement, which B did…of course (no picture).
The tasting menu finishes with a dark chocolate pistachio torte with frozen white chocolate green tea mousse and it was paired with an almond cake with a blood orange sorbet.
So, you are probably thinking that the tasting menu must have been ridiculously expensive? Surprisingly, no it wasn’t. It was $68 (plus $10 supplement for cheeses). I think that is a great deal, particularly with the level of service, the quality of the food, and all of the added extras that you get when you dine at West. I am seriously considering returning to have it all over again next week! West always improves a celebration by really spoiling you and making you realize that when food is done properly it really is just a wonderful thing.