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Ouest / West In Vancouver


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Captain Hongo

Ahhhh, brings back taste memories. We ate there on Sunday and we were certainly early enough to do a chef's table but decided against it at the last moment. Now I'm sorry we passed. Next time for sure. Your meal sounded wonderful and your post made me want to go back again this weekend, wish I could afford it. I too had the gazpacho and I was happy to see you used the bread to clean your bowl - I did too. I also ate almost half of my husbands parfait of foie gras and chicken livers with golden apple jelly (piggy that I am) - had to eat his since I simply couldn't justify ordering two starters. They offered a wonderful watermelon soup for the amuse bouche, truly delicious. I think the standout part of the meal for me was the dessert. I had the Passion Fruit Souffle with white chocolate creme anglaise - now that is one dessert I would go back for again & again. Thanks for the numbers on the chef's table, it's great to know how much it might cost and thank you for your report.

Edited by capers (log)
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(Anybody interested in discussing Seattle's Cascadia, Mistral, Earth and Ocean or Inn at The Market?)

This will be lost here - please post a new thread if you want Seattle opinions on these - though I think you will plenty of threads already exist. Inn at the Market has no restaurant, but Campagne and Cafe Campagne adjoin it. I imagine you have read/heard of the new(er)comers, Lark and Union - and by Christmas 2004, well, anybody's guess what might open.

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It may not have changed that much HKDave. My husband and I recently had a chef's table dinner at West as well and our post tax, pre tip total came to about $320. That's for two eight course meals, my husband's wine flight, my cocktail, sparkling water and digestifs with dessert.

It was an amazing meal, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Edited by plunk (log)
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I was interested to read this thread as I am hoping to visit Vancouver this summer and West will be one restaurant I will certainly visit should the trip come off. From a British perspective, your bill comes to £250 which is an absolute steal for a 10 course blow out with matched wines of that quality and service. I can't wait to get there!

Looking at the restaurant website, the most expensive main course would work out at £16.00 ( for lobster) and the $84 tasting menu would be £33.00, the equivilent of 3 courses in the least expensive Michelin starred restaurant in the UK.

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Not much to add other then the fact that I had one of the better meals at West. Definatelly going back whenever I come to Vancouver...

Isaac Bentley

Without the culinary arts, the crudeness of the world would be unbearable. - Kate & Leopold

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  • 3 months later...

The parfait of foie gras and chicken livers with golden apple jelly and brioche toast at West is like heroin. I would mainline it if I could. If I lived in Vancouver, I would need a fix at least a couple of times a month, if not weekly. When we first tasted this incredible dish, my husband and I briefly considered quitting our jobs, sending for our dog and starting a new life in Vancouver, without bothering to return to our home in Washington DC.

Two and a half months later, I still daydream about that foie gras.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, a belated 'thank you' to everyone on this board who offered restaurant suggestions for our trip to Vancouver.

During our trip in early summer, we celebrated our anniversary with dinner at the Chef'sTable at West. It was one of our best meals ever. We opted for five courses, which actually turned out to be much more because Chef David Hawksworth and his staff prepared two different dishes for the first, second and third courses, and for dessert. We shared everything, :wub: so each of us tasted ten different dishes, including the 'pre-dessert'. We did not do an ‘official’ wine pairing, but we each had several glasses throughout the course of the evening.

Service was friendly, relaxed and professional. Overall good karma. And even though there was a full house all evening and the kitchen staff was very busy, Chef Hawksworth, as he worked, spent plenty of time talking with us about the dishes he was preparing, his style of cooking, his experiences working in England, etc. He’s incredibly talented and he seems like such a good guy.

So, onto the food:

First Course

Classic tomato gazpacho with Tofino Dungeness crab tian with organic olive oil

Yellowfin tuna sashimi, jalapeno spiced sesame dressing with crisp shallots

Second Course

West bacon with tomato jam, roasted scallop and micro greens

Parfait of foie gras and chicken livers with golden apple jelly and brioche toast

Third Course

Marinated Sablefish fillet with shitake mushroom broth, asian greens and Chinese sausage

Roast Princess Island skate with sweet corn emulsion with lobster saffron risotto

Fourth Course

Roasted veal loin, nutmeg gnocchi and bacon essence

Pre Dessert

Strawberry sorbet with golden kiwis and roasted strawberries

Dessert

Lime sour cream mousse filled cornmeal tuile with mango salsa, sweet corn ice milk

Malted milk chocolate mousse white chocolate raspberry tart and dark chocolate cake with banana ice cream

Sorry, I don’t have specifics on the wines by the glass. We asked the waitress to please recommend British Columbia wines since we do not have access to them in DC, and she did an excellent job. I believe there were two semillon, a chardonnay (Cedar Creek, perhaps?), a pinot noir, I think, and an ice wine after dessert, to finish the evening.

Again, thanks to the locals for your great recommendations!

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Well, inspired by Capt Hongo's adventures above, on my last trip to Vancouver, the delectable Ms A and I booked ahead and did the chef's table/tasting menu thing at West. We let the sommelier do the pairings for each course.

I'll avoid doing a course by course food porn description here (several of the dishes we had are descibed in the posts above) but the food was very, very good. The wine pairings were skilled, but not exactly daring (foie gras w/Sauternes...) and were unrestrained in terms of price. The staff knew I had come from Hong Kong, maybe they think we're all rich here or something.

There was one 'miss' - the meat course, where we were talked up to a Canadian Wagyu tenderloin at an additional price. When I asked what the alternative would be, the waiter said 'I don't know'. OK, I get it, I'm supposed to go for the Wagyu. It was good, but the main benefit of Wagyu is the marbling and tenderness. You can see and taste that in the loin or rib, but there's not as much difference in the tenderloin. Nothing wrong with it - still was a fine piece of meat, perfectly cooked and presented - but I knew it wasn't a great idea when I ordered it, and it wasn't.

One thing I learned was that I can't eat as much as I used to. Despite requesting less courses than Capt Hongo, we still ran out of room well before dessert, which we had to skip. We were charged for it anyway.

The kitchen was impressive. They were slammed all night but everything seemed entirely under control, almost silent. I saw the sous giving one of the line cooks shit for running. Chef Hanksworth hires his line straight out of VCC (local gov't vocational school), he figures they haven't had time to pick up too many bad habits that way.

Overall, a great meal, with great wines, but simply too expensive (since you asked, $650 for 2) for me. But I had a look at the regular menu and wine list, and next time - and there will be a next time - I'll choose (fewer of) my own courses and wines and the bill will be quite a bit more rational. More than half of the tasting menu courses were also on the regular menu, and there were much better values available in the wines.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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It is no secret at all that West is my favourite dining establishment in Vancouver. There is fantastic dining in the city, and a bargain at that on a global scale, but ever since West used to have an "O" in it, I have been gorging myself on as many of Chef Hawksworth's creations as often as I have the good fortune to do so. To count how many different dishes I have had over the years is impossible, Chef and I already tried. Suffice it to say, it is in the hundreds.

What makes this amazing to me is that Chef remembers them all! The only time I have ever had the same dish twice was because it was requested. I have written countless accolades for West and have backed off for fear of sounding like a cheerleader with a boyfriend on the team, but...

I have to share this dinner with you.

The request to Chef: A birthday dinner menu with 14 courses.

What does he do? 17 courses of plates I have never had before and some with ingredients he not only hand picked (read: foraged for) but included specifically because they are some of my favourite. Grey Goose anyone?

Birthday Dinner 2004

Start with a bottle of: Krug “Grand Reserve”

01. Oysters on Rock Salt with Organic Cucumber

02. Organic Sunchoke Soup with Black Winter Truffle

03. Beggar’s Purse with Dungeness Crab, Grey Goose and Salmon Caviar

04. Lightly Seared Albacore Tuna and Sesame Vinaigrette

05. Vanilla Butter Poached Lobster, Smoked Red Wine Jus

06. Raviolis, Oxtail and Squash

07. Squab, Foie Gras and Truffle Tartlette

08. Pine Mushroom Carpaccio with Aged Balsamic

09. Grapefruit and Beetroot

10. Boudin with Bacon Essence and Cepes

11. Sous Vide Halibut with Osetra Caviar Crust and Saffron Foam

12. Pink Sea Bream with Artichoke and Orange Barigoule

13. Grilled Buffalo Ribeye with Chanterelles a la Crème

14. Cantaloupe Sorbet with Elephant Heart Plum Jus

15. Gravenstein Apple Hazelnut Tart with Crab Apple Ice Cream

16. Clafoutis with Chocolate, Raspberry and Almond

17. Petit Fours

Dinner was accompanied by bottles of:

Domaine Ostertag Grand Cru Pinot Gris “Muenchberg” 2002

Saintsbury Pinot Noir Carneros “Brown Ranch” 1996

I do not have a single "favourite" meal memory from all the places I have dined, but I do have a Top Ten List, and Chef David Hawksworth with his wicked little kitchen staff and Barman Jay Jones have easily and permanently notched very well earned spots for West on that list.

"Expect nothing, be prepared for anything."

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I ate at Ouest and thought Chef Hawksworth creative in all the ways I want a chef to be, and thoughtful, as in: I had the feeling that whatever he was preparing for me was for ME, and his dishes just sublime, there is no other word for it: sublime.

i remember especially a warm saffron scented tomato tea. and a divine tomato gazpacho chockful of cilantro if i remember correctly.

i'd love to go back, if only i had an excuse to go to vancouver! i might just park myself in West and stay the duration, though i might wait until next tomato season as british columbia tomatoes are too too divine.

in the meantime i get the odd press release of menus etc and follow the flavours vicariously.

cheers,

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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  • 1 month later...

My co-workers and I got very spoiled at West on Friday evening. It was a celebration of the end of the season for us and Chef Hawksworth and his staff proved why they are one of the, if not the best, restaurants in Vancouver.

It went like this:

Amuse: parfait of foie gras

1st: kumamoto oyster with cucumber and basque pepper

2nd: wild bluefin tuna tartare with golden brook trout caviar, spiced citrus dressing and greens

3rd: seared weathervane scallop with shellfish espuma

4th: twice cooked foie gras with star anise and cinamon crab apple jelly

5th: white alba truffle buttered handmade gnocchi

6th: white alba truffle lobster salad

7th: soy marinated sablefish with pine mushrooms and oxtail broth

8th: clove infused coronation grape juice with orange

9th: squab with brioche foie gras crust, date and nut risotto

10th: grilled veal with saskatoon berry braised red cabbage

11th: ermite cheese

12th: quince sorbet

13th: star anise marinated pineapple wedge with kiwi sorbet, house made marshmellow and pomegranate salad

14th: chocolate souffle with lemon marzipan center, mandarine sorbet

Service was gracious, effortless and seamless. Especially that we had seven in our group. I am always interested in finding B.C. wines that I haven't tried before. So I was most impressed with Hawthorne Mt's "See Ya Later Ranch" brut, Grey Monk's "Oddessey" Pinot Gris and my always favorite Poplar Grove Cab Franc. If memory serves me correctly (there was a lot of drinking this weekend) we also drank Kettle Valley

All in all, I cannot wait to go back.

Edited by paul mitchell (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Mooshmouse, Mr. Mooshmouse, Jeffy Boy and I enjoyed an excellent meal last night at West. On reflection, I also believe it is the best service I've ever received in a restaurant and the best wine pairing. We all ordered a la carte and requested wines to be paired with each of our courses (appy and main). As Moushmouse mentioned in another thread, conversation rather got the best of us, and although we were all advised of the wine details, we sadly have no record of them. I had the special stuffed artichoke appetizer, which came with an unexpected addition of seared foie gras (Thank you Chef Hawksworth!). My main was the veal t-bone with saskatoon berry braised red cabbage, which was outstanding and the wine pairing (something from Sardinia) was perfect! I believe I uttered the words “I have died and gone to heaven”.

For dessert I had the chocolate souffle. The souffle had a lemon marzipan center and was served with mandarin sorbet. I’ve never encountered a marzipan that I could say I really liked till last night at West. As well, the mardarin sorbet was a hit! All helped of course with a well paired late harvest.

We were seated within good viewing range of the kitchen, which is always my favourite dining vantage point. Any time I get the chance, I like to spend some time observing the kitchen activities. The West kitchen ran like a "well-oiled machine"; quick, efficient and quiet.

This is definitely a “do again”!

Support your local farmer

Currently reading:

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Just finished reading:

The 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith & J. B. MacKinnon

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Mooshmouse, Mr. Mooshmouse, Jeffy Boy and I enjoyed an excellent meal last night at West.  On reflection, I also believe it is the best service I've ever received in a restaurant and the best wine pairing.  We all ordered a la carte and requested wines to be paired with each of our courses (appy and main).  As Moushmouse mentioned in another thread,  conversation rather got the best of us, and although we were all advised of the wine details, we sadly have no record of them.

Upon further reflection, I believe my Wild Bluefin Tuna Tartare was surprisingly and deliciously paired with a Muscat, and my Soy Marinated North Pacific Sablefish was paired with both a Chablis and a Yalumba "Y" Series Viognier 2004. Outstanding on all counts. Perhaps Jeffy Boy will have more luck with the wine recall than lemon curd or I did.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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  • 1 month later...

west remains above the rest in my books as far as vancouver is concerned. twas the best experience i've ever had in a restaurant, anywhere, and has yet to be topped.

brian hopkins is about as gracious a host out there.

Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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  • 7 months later...

Dinner at West last week not only "knocked my socks off" , it sent them into orbit. I'll list what we ate but my words can't come close to doing justice to the presentations, quality, imagination and sheer impact of flavor of each course.

There simply aren't enough superlatives...

First off, I felt we had the best seats in the house....a big, comfortable booth across from the kitchen. Normally I would consider this a bad seat with all the commotion of waitstaff picking up orders but this kitchen runs smoothly and with little fanfare. Chef David Hawksworth is a quiet force behind every plate that leaves the kitchen and a delight to chat with as the meal progressed.

We opted for letting him choose our Tasting Menu with the stipulation a course of seared foie gras be included.

Amuse: A tiny teacup of Sweet Corn Soup with a Single Chanterelle. (I knew the night would go well after the first few sips)

Tuna Tartare Timbale with Gazpacho "Water": Well, this was simply fabulous. The tuna by itself would have been perfect but the waitperson poured a clear broth...crystal - clear with flecks of comfetti-like color throughout. It was more of an "essense" than anything else. As light and clear as it appeared it was packed with flavor and when I closed my eyes I tasted gazpacho though I wasn't looking at a tomato-based liquid. It rocked!

Ravioli of Goat Cheese with Artichoke Hearts in a Basil Sauce I don't know how he does it but the "sauces" are SO light that I tasted every flavor yet never felt full...or anywhere close to that as the meal progressed. For me that's what makes a great tasting menu. The ravioli was amazing.

Sable Fish with Enoki Mushroom Broth: Another winner...

Seared Quebec Foie Gras over Roasted Peaches: I've eaten more Foie than I even want to think about but this combination was new to me and, once again fabulous. The Foie was perfectly seared....practically running into the peaches as I cut into each piece.

Saddle of Lamb Stuffed with Spinach: While not one of my favorite cuts of lamb this one was delicious. I don't even like spinach and I ate every bite.

Lobster Bisque: Well, that's probably not the official name but who cares. Big chunks of lobster floating in a foamed bisque. I loved watching David create the foam while chatting with us. When I'm using my emulsifier it needs my full concenteration or things go flying. The bisque was SO rich and flavorful. Again...beyond words.

Gelatin with Apricot Sorbet: This delightful bite came on a large spoon and just slid into our mouths. YUM !

Dark Chocolate Kumquat Millefeuille with Vanilla Ice Cream Truffle: Well, the Millefeuille was light enough to still be enjoyed after our huge meal and the Truffle was somehow cracked open...as one would crack an egg....all jagged edges..with the TINY bite of ice cream in the center. Fabulous taste and very clever presentation.

I'm not sure what to call the final dessert...A Straberry Shortcake sort of creation...the strawberries had been soaked in red wine with very delicate cake-like pastry in between. It went SO well with the chocolate dessert.

The final bite of the evening was a plate of petit fours with the most delicious morsal of Cheesecake...about one inch square. Couldn't resist that one...

For me it was the perfect restaurant experience. Excellent, unobtrusive service. No faltering delays between courses and a softspoken but very warm and engaging chef who makes even two strangers feel welcome in his restaurant.

It was a memorable evening in every way.....

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  • 1 month later...

From a Top Table press release this morning. Congratulations to all at West!

Vancouver, BC. On October 16th the UK’s Sunday Independent broadsheet reported Vancouver’s West restaurant to be amongst “ten of the best, worldwide.” In the article, West is the only Canadian restaurant to be mentioned alongside cutting edge gastronomic greats such as Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV, Monaco; Arzak, in San Sebastien, Spain; Fergus Henderson’s St John, London; Alinea, Chicago; David Kinch’s Manresa, Los Gatos and Marque, Sydney.

“David Hawksworth trained with notables including Raymond Blanc before returning to his native Vancouver to open West.” reports the Independent, declaring “Wagyu beef with Cascadia porcini and broken red wine jus is one of the best plates of animal protein you’ll ever eat”.

More delicious dishes currently featured on West’s menus include a 36 hour slow cooked local lamb with parsley and grainy mustard dumplings, “the lamb is cooked ‘sous-vide’” explains Hawksworth “to retain moisture and flavour, it’s succulent and beautifully textured.” Fresh handmade spaghetti with truffle veloute, and shaved white Alba truffle, has also proved to be a current seasonal favourite.

Both Chef Hawksworth and Restaurant Director Brain Hopkins are thrilled with the Independent report “we are honoured to be placed in such high regard and to be in such excellent company”, says Hopkins, adding “it just makes us more determined to continue to raise the bar, to strive for excellence in service, cuisine and wine and to play our part in placing Vancouver firmly on the culinary map”.

Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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I have to admit to being rather taken aback to being the cause of a press release - it was my first time, but they were gentle so I rather enjoyed it!

I've explained the criteria I used for the article a bit over on this thread but the bottom line was to use the opportunity to expose restaurants of real quality to an audience that might not have heard of some of them before. I didn't see the point in yet another list that said el Bulli was one of the best restaurants in the world; I did see the point in one that said West was among the best.

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