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Sorry this review is so long in coming. It is a review of a dinner I had at diva at the Met in November 2006.

I find that Vancouver has some of the best hotel dining rooms in the country, and diva at the Metropolitan Hotel is one of the best. I'd describe the cuisine as quintessential Northwest-fresh, seasonal, local ingredients (including many Canadian products), classic French technique and upscale presentations, accompanied by local wines and refined yet relaxed service. I guess that would describe a lot of the nicer 'new American' style restaurants in the States.

I was in Vancouver in November, 2006, to spend a few days before starting off a 4-day journey across Canada on the "Canadian" streamliner train #2-a trek all across the country ending up in Toronto.

I am a big, big, fan of Seasonal Tasting Menus (see my review of the tasting menu at Wing Lei-Las Vegas) because I find the tasting menu challenges the chefs creativity in ways you might not find in dishes off the regular menu. And I always order the wine pairings with each course if they are offered-another challenge to the chef and the wine steward to present the customers with wines that accent and enhance the flavors of the dishes.

Anyone sitting in the dining room at diva at the Met can order the tasting menu-but I'd recommend reserving one of the two 'chefs' tables. You get personal attention from the chefs and waiters who personally describe each dish for you and the wine steward personally gives you an explanation of the wine selections as he pours the wine into a proper Reidel crystal goblet.

At some restaurants the chefs tables are located right in the kitchen, but at diva, the two chefs tables are on a small landing area just to the right of the small, open-air kitchen. While you have a close-up view of the chefs and the kitchen, you aren't actually sitting in the kitchen, which I liked. I preferred being a bit out of the chefs way. I was served by the restaurant manager, one of the head waiters and the wine steward. While they also served other customers, their priority seems to be to serve the customers who are seated at the chefs table.

I hadn't yet mastered the art of taking food photos, so I don't have any photos of the dishes to share with you-all the more reason to go back to diva at the Met at another time.

The price was a steal-$75 Canadian last November for 6 courses, another $40 for the full wine pairings. That's only $115 Canadian, plus a bit more for the champagne cocktail, coffee and tip. I don't have a lot of other Vancouver restaurants to use as a comparison-but compared to the prices of tasting menus in Las Vegas, diva at the Met was about 1/3 the price of places like Alex or Guy Savoy. And I'd rate diva at the Met as every bit as good as Alex at the Wynn Las Vegas.

This is the menu from November 10, 2006

Ahi Tuna Tartar, Yuzu Citrus Foam.

Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer, Private Reserve, Okanagan Valley (BC), 2005

The hints of citrus and spice in the wine cut through the fattiness of the tuna. Yuzu can be bitter and overly tart but in this case, the chef created a subtle, yet intensely sweet lemony foam of yuzu which went perfectly with the rich tuna.

Warm Golden Chanterelle and Black Trumpet Salad, Soft Poached Hen Egg, Glazed Salsify, Brioche Croutons, Grainy Mustard, Sherry Vinaigrette.

Benziger Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma, 2004

It sounds like a complicated dish with potentially strong acid flavors in the grainy mustard and sherry vinaigrette-but this was really just a simple salad of wild mushrooms and salsify with a counter-balance between the tangy mustard and vinaigrette against the rich and creamy egg. The wine was less acidic and more refined than the bold Gewurztraminer served with the strong citrus flavors in the first course.

Winter Chestnut Apple Veloute, Celeraic Apple Saute.

Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc, Okanagan Valley (BC), 2005

The waiter placed a bowl in front of me that held a small cluster of prosciutto crisps in the bottom. He then ladled the hot soup in the bowl and topped the soup with a small spoon of the Celeraic and Apple Saute. My only complaint is that the portion of soup was too much-chestnut soup is very rich so I only need a small bowl. The julienne of celeraic and apple added a refreshing crunch to the rich soup and the prosciutto added a bit of salt and smoke. The pinot blanc was strong enough to hold up to the strong chestnut flavor of the soup and added its own herbal notes to the dish.

Sauteed Filet of Vancouver Isand Snapper, Little Neck Clam, Artichoke and Leek Fricasse, Olive Oil Emulsion.

Chauteau Gaudrelle, Vouvray, 2004

This was my favorite dish of the evening-fresh snapper from the waters off Vancouver, seared crisp on the outside, yet soft and delicious on the inside. I thought that the 'olive oil emulsion' sounded a bit strong flavored for a delicate white fish like snapper, but it actually was light and rich and creamy in texture with just a hint of olive. I expected a heavier oil type sauce.

Fig Stuffed Loin and Sous Vide Rabbit Leg, Creamy Spatzle, Roasted Butternut Squash Puree, Cippolini Onion, Haricot Verts, Thyme Jus.

Edmeades, Zinfandel, Mendocino County, 2003

This was my first introduction to 'sous vide' cooking and the results were excellent-the rabbit leg was stuffed with a forcemeat and the sous vide kept it incredibly moist and tender. Any chef who serves spatzle with Rabbit in November is in my good graces-a much better accompaniment to game meat than potatoes. The wide, brush-stroke of thyme jus on the plate was actually more the consistency of a rich rabbit demi-glace accented with thyme.

Milk Chocolate 2 Ways, Sweet Spice Honey Poached Pear, Pear Sorbet.

Chateau Gaudiet, Loupiac, 2001

This was the best wine of the evening-a thick elixir with the scent of fresh, ripe pears on the trees.

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Exec chef Ray Henry has left since you last ate there, so I'd suspect there would be noticeable differences.

Thanks. Do you know where Chef Henry went or who the new chef at diva is?

Thanks.

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The new chef is Dino Renaerts. Here's some background from the press release announcing his appointment:

Locally born and trained, the Dubrulle International Culinary Institute graduate has invested his culinary prowess in Vancouver’s vibrant dining scene. Enticed by quality kitchens, Renaerts’ pedigree is impressive. Apprenticing years were spent at The William Tell under the tutelage of Chef Lars Jorgensen, at Bishops with Michael Allemeier, and at Le Gavroche under Scott Kidd, before entering the hotel dining realm at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and the Hotel Vancouver.

I recently had a 3 course prix fixe lunch at Diva that was excellent.

I don't know what Chef Henry is doing except that he paid a visit Saskatoon this summer to cook at Weczeria Restaurant, you can read about the restaurant here.

It's been a while since we have had anything to report but this weekend (Aug 17 + 19) We have Chef Ray Henry coming from Vancouver to host a dinner with us. Both nights are sold out and we are looking forward to having Chef in Saskatoon

Cheers,

Anne

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Yes indeed we were paid a visit by Chef this past summer. Chef is currently at Burrowing Owl giving Chef Casvant a break and is working on.... I am not allowed to say... I do know what his next move will be. I am sure that it will make a splash no matter what he does. We are hoping to convince him to come out again in the fall, if the Riders can hold on to first place and the Lions come second there will be a game at Taylor Field and we promised we would take him. If you do see him ask him to show you his Roughrider hat.

We'll post our pics from the dinner and his weekend on our thread once I get to that on the to do list.

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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Riders? Lions?

Who d'ey...what's that?

Oh CFL football? We have not have much around these parts for at least a couple of years :rolleyes:

I will have to check out some more Sunday open spots and let you know for your next visit Junior.

It happens more often than not with people flying in for work or conferences and they want to get out and eat somewhere other than the hotel's restaurant and as we discovered, not an easy option.

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It's nice to know Chef Henry is on to other exciting possibilities and sounds like diva is in good hands with Chef Renaerts. I'm especially thankful that the management of the hotel seems to realize the importance of the food at diva and their Chefs in terms of showcasing some great Northwest/Canadian food. Great moves on their part.

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