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Yew Review?


easternsun
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I am thinking of making reservations for a birthday dinner at Yew. I was wondering if anyone had been lately and what you thought of the place.

I tried to search the forums for Yew but didnt come up with anything. I am curious if it is "all that and a bag of chips" as some friends have mentioned.

Thanks.

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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Much nicer room than before, however, the open kitchen layout resulted in a dining room that is slightly stuffy, despite the high ceiling.

Very busy, very good wine list (you can have any wine on the list as long as you order two glasses, which means you'll be paying for roughly half of the listed bottle price).

Food was on the pricey side. Cheese fondue quite good, so is their creamy macaroni and cheese. Steak was average, a little dry. Chicken liver pate very good.

Very lively, not a bad place for birthday. There is also a glass private room in the middle of the restaurant, minimum food cost was around $1,000 if I recall correctly.

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My pre-edit from back in January.

***************

Hotel restaurants should never really be too busy in a food mad city like ours. If sophisticated out-of-towners have a quarter ounce of savvy in them, they see dining rooms that are somehow emblematic of our province as crucial to the entire BC experience. Though many try, few local hotels hit those notes and make them sing. Yew, brand new to the Four Seasons downtown and housed in the old Terrace Restaurant location on the second floor, is poised to move to the front of that choir. Not only will it seduce many of our visitors, it may also bed some locals, too.

A Christmas reunion with some far flung family members had me there last week, just a few days after its opening. It's a modern, sexy room with soaring ceilings looming over 204 seats (79 in the front bar and lounge area, and 128 in the dining room proper). According to their press materials, Yew (named after one of BC's indigenous trees) was designed "to capture the essence of British Columbia's natural environment". They've accomplished an approximation of such with greys, tans, and blues playing against light ambers and aqua greens, wood-paneled walls, and a sandstone look-through fireplace.

The synthy soundtrack is a little incongruous, but Four Seasons playing the hipster card is nonetheless good for a laugh. Pity about the swirling, puke-promising carpet, though. It's the one thing that reminded me that I was still in a hotel (much like those blinding wall-to-wall, nauseating jobs one avoids looking at in ubiquitous Vegas casinos).

Towards the rear of the room is the "talking point" feature: a transparent glass enclosed not-so-private room crowned by a skylight high above. It's reminiscent of Hannibal Lechter's cell in The Silence of The Lambs, complete with the wine cellar he always wanted ("I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti").

We were in no rush and signaled as much to our server, a deferential fellow who understood the signs. He deftly swooped in to whisk away plates and topped up our many glasses like a silent pro without sacrificing a single service protocol, interjecting verbally only when it was time to choose another bottle. We throttled some Chablis and some promising cocktails before we moved into chef Raphael Gonzales' 30+ item menu.

The dishes weren't as BC-focused as I expected (like the guests really care in this game of illusion), but the quality quotient was there in spades. We began with a raw bar sampler that saw a citrusy ceviche of scallop hinting of coriander, some poached lobster flesh gently flavoured with almond, grilled octopus dusted with saffron and chili, and a finely chopped Ahi tuna tartar sweetened with pear. It was all so subtle as to border on the perfect ($28).

Moving on to a middle course, my slightly overcooked shrimp were over-doused in a weak wasabi ponzu ($12), but there were some salads on the table that were worth trying (the hamachi tuna in particular - even at $23 for an appetiser portion).

For mains, one of my dining companions and I split a huge, $82 roasted rack of venison from the "share" section of the menu. The juniper essence of the Hendrick's Gin sauce was hard to discern, and the reduced sweetness of what remained masked the subtler flavours of the thick cuts of meat. A bottle of 2002 L'ecole 41 Syrah from Washington State ($125) may have been to blame (powerful enough to shoot the deer), and the accompanying bowl of black truffle and potato gratin was heart-squeezingly rich (we like), if a little on the cool side in the very center.

Tastes and nods from around the table suggested the $29 grain fed chicken was a pleaser (the porcini marmalade was something I'd never tried - a great idea executed well), as was the black cod laced with aged Sherry vinegar and the tang of Sungold tomatoes ($35).

After a closing bottle of velvety Sangiovese (actually a blend, the 2004 Sandhill "Three" - jammy with strawberry and blackberry - $90), dessert saw over-sized and nut-crusted brownies plated with bananas Foster and scoops of house-made banana ice cream, very much worth $10 apiece. Though I enjoyed my dinner tremendously, I'm nevertheless very glad that some one else at the table was picking up the tab. I couldn't even bear to look at it. It could very well have been fatal.

With intuitive attention to detail in the service, a high end, well chosen wine list with the heft of a Chaucer epic (150 wines by the glass), and a dinner menu that is firing on all cylinders in its first week, I'm thinking Yew is a thoroughbred. It might not play the BC card as well as it purports, but it's still thematically sound.

I'd like to next slip in for one of chef Gonzales' Latin-inspired Sunday brunches, if only to see what the light is like in the day. Like most hotel dining rooms, they open at 7am, a fact I was reminded of when we eased gently away from our dark wood table to find the closing bussers lining up breakfast cereal boxes for the next shift. It was late for us, but it was clear that Yew was just getting started.

Yew Restaurant + Bar | 791 West Georgia St | 604-689-9333 | FourSeasons.com/Vancouver/Dining

Food **** Service ***** Atmosphere **** Value ***

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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I've been to Yew a few times - and the food, service, and drinks all really work well.

However - the crowd is a little odd - think Bravo TV on a late Friday night. Hell's Angels, pro's, businessmen with expense account money to burn... it makes for interesting viewing to say the least.

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I've been for lunch - and a very delicious lunch it was! I had striped bass, prepared similarly to the black cod mentioned above - with aged sherry vinegar and an assortment of cherry tomatoes. SO had a paella - with a generous amount of seafood buried among the rice.

It was a rather sunny day and some of the tables in the center were completely in direct sunlight - I was relieved when we were sat at one where I could sit in the shade and my sun-loving SO could bask in the warmth.

The crowd was mostly business types that day (even though it was a holiday Monday), and one fellow felt the need to broadcast his voice throughout the room. The room is gorgeous and airy, but perhaps a bit vulnerable to noise propagation.

I haven't been for dinner but I'm keen to return for lunch again soon. They had some yummy sounding sandwiches on the menu. I fancy myself popping in for a lunch at the spacious bar, and enjoying a sandwich with one of their Caesars (which looked pretty fine from what I saw).

Nice wine list, and interesting options by the glass. However I found their markup to be a bit steep.

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