My husband and I started the weekend off with supper at Herons West Coast Kitchen + Bar at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. Though I’d recently had the opportunity to sample Chef Dana Hauser’s menu, the beautiful spring evening enticed us to enjoy the experience of a three course meal. We were seated by the window, taking advantage of Canada Place, the Vancouver Convention Centre West, and the North Shore mountains as backdrop.
What I like about this restaurant is that the tables aren’t too close to one another. Panels separate sections of the dining room, creating separating spaces and a feeling of airiness. There’s also Heron’s Nest, a private dining room at the back of the restaurant, for more intimate and important occasions.
We started the evening with freshly baked bread served with creamy butter and a clove of honey garlic, using honey from the hotel’s rooftop garden. It makes a big difference when hyper local foodstuffs are used.
Herons takes pride in their beekeeping. Since June 2008, The Fairmont has been keeping bees on the third floor terrace, adjacent to a 2,100 square foot food herb garden. Between May and September, anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 honeybees visit there. Flowers and plant sources are provided for them, encouraging pollination. The hotel harvests the collected honey in September during the annual Honey Harvest. Over 600 pounds of honey are produced yearly!
The herb garden mentioned above was started in 1991 and is considered one of Vancouver’s first green roofs. Over 60 varieties of herbs, vegetables, fruits and edible blossoms are grown and used in the restaurant’s dishes.
We ordered a bottle of Mission Hill 2010 Reserve Chardonnay ($58) for our meal, sipping away as the sun gently set, leaving streaks of colour across the sky. As well, Herons uses the sustainable in-house Vivreau water system, offering both still and sparkling bottles at the table ($3/person).
For starters, we ordered a dozen Fanny Bay oysters ($28) and seared Qualicum scallops ($18). The medium sized oysters were served with a few different accompaniments, our favourites being the tart and flavourful red wine cucumber mignonette as well as the more traditional cocktail sauce.
Our server mentioned that Chef Dana is entered into a lentil competition for Lentils.ca; naturally I decided to order the scallops, served with with Puy lentils from Saskatchewan, a tiny lentil variety, and delicious together with bacon and a sherry jus.
The scallops were perfectly seared, and well married with a thin swipe of sherry jus and sherry vinaigrette alongside the plate.
A unique amuse bouche was served next. With a bowl of applewood smoke (via hickory chips) underneath, another bowl containing Salt Spring Island’s Beddis blue cheese, pine nuts, the restaurant’s own honey, Pacific mushrooms and bread crisps provided something truly different.
The sweetness of the honey together with the pine nuts and pungent cheese was delicious. I used the bread to soak up the sweetness that remained in the bowl. At one point, we lifted the bowl to watch the smoke meet the air and it reminded us of a woodsy cabin in nature. This inventive approach to presentation also added subtle smokiness to the dish.
As we’re in the middle of spot prawn season in BC, my main course was spot prawn ravioli ($35), three homemade large pieces filled each with delightfully plump spot prawns. The prawns contained just a finish of citrus on the palate, and the pasta was al dente as it should be. The dish was served with diced butternut squash, crispy green peas (complementing the sweetness of the spot prawns), more prawns on top (!) in a delightful butternut squash sauce.
This was a match made in heaven for the chardonnay’s mango and pear flavours, as well as the seven month American and French oak aging process.
My husband ordered a combination of AAA Prime beef tenderloin served with a spot prawn ravioli ($39). The beef was succulent and served with a sauce and fresh al dente vegetables. He also loved the homemade ravioli, filled with plump local spot prawns. The olive oil whipped potatoes went well with the beef, though his one comment was that there could have been a little more jus served with this dish. Otherwise it was spot on (pardon the pun).
As for desserts, Herons doesn’t disappoint. Pastry chef Stephanie Greenslade has designed a menu to satisfy most sweet tooth palates. I couldn’t resist ordering the Textures of Chocolate ($10), with a dark chocolate brownie, milk chocolate mousse, caramelized white chocolate creameau and cocoa nibs on the side.
The delicate square of milk chocolate mousse was sprayed with a cocoa dusting, adding to the presentation. I enjoyed dipping the bits of dark chocolate nibs into the sauce.
The brownie with creameau layer was superb. As for that dark chocolate ring on the side? Dee-lish.
My husband ordered the apple Tarte Tatin ($10) with a scoop of homemade rosemary brittle ice cream. The delicate layers of pastry enhanced the warm apple; bits of caramel were to be found inside the tarte. Not a bad way to finish a meal.
The lemon curd and apple jelly accents were truly flavourful and not too sweet. A splash of chocolate and fresh fruit completed the plate.
When the restaurant learned that it was my husband’s birthday, they kindly added a chocolate greeting to his dessert.
Herons West Coast Kitchen is an amazing place to savour a lunch or dinner and we plan on returning to try their Sunday brunch offering.
Find Herons at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, 900 Canada Place Way in Vancouver. Visit the website for opening times and detailed menus, including breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, an all-day menu and dessert.
Our dinner was compliments of Herons West Coast Kitchen + Bar. We paid for our wine and gratuity.