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West Restaurant-6

We’re back in full holiday mode and Vancouver restaurants are no exception. Toptable Group restaurants (CinCin Ristorante, West Restaurant, Blue Water Cafe, Thierry Cafe and newly-opened Bar Oso in Whistler) are offering diners a selection of tasting menus, light lunches and in the case of Thierry Cafe, a selection of festive pastries.

West Restaurant-2

This week we enjoyed two of West Restaurant’s three holiday tasting menus. A three-course prix-fixe lunch (11:30 am to 2:30 pm) tasting costs $45 while the five-course prix-fixe dinner (5:30 to 10:30 pm) is priced at $125 (Christmas tasting) and $98 (chef’s tasting).

The third option ($74) caters to vegetarians. Wine pairings range from an additional $55 to $69 depending on the menu you’ve selected.

West Restaurant-5

Entering West, you’re immediately greeted with a seasonal atmosphere complete with baubles, wreaths and festive touches. The large bar to your right houses a temperature-controlled wall-mounted rack containing 5,000 bottles of wine representing 650 labels that range from modestly-priced to collector’s editions.

West Restaurant-1

You’d think that high-end luxury resort destinations such as Vail, Colorado would include restaurants with a lavishly-stocked wine selection, but one of the hostesses here mentioned a couple flying up to Vancouver from Colorado to have one of West’s hard-to-find wines poured for them at dinner!

West/Qualicum Bay scallop sashimi
[Qualicum Bay scallop sashimi, local wasabi, dashi vinaigrette]

The main dining room is a lovely way to spend a relaxing long lunch or dinner but the real action is at one of two chef’s tables where we were seated on a mid-week evening celebrating the launch of the holiday menus.

These are the two most-requested booths in the restaurant; it becomes quickly evident how hard the staff work each evening to prepare – and present – the most beautiful, well-balanced dishes that include locally-sourced produce, seafood and meats.

West/Executive Chef Quang Dang
[Executive Chef Quang Dang]

Executive Chef Quang Dang and his team keep busy between two kitchens (one with an open counter), orchestrating an evening of coordinated service along with well-chosen wines to compliment each dish.

West/Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Chapoutier Occultum Lapidem 2012
[L to R: Louis M. Martini 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chapoutier 2012 Occultum Lapidem]

In addition to the regular and seasonal menus is an extensive list of cocktails (originals and classics), aperitifs, spirits, martinis, whiskeys, beers, brandy, liquors and digestifs.

West/Truffle scrambled eggs
[Truffle scrambled eggs, White Alba truffles, mushroom relish]

A truffle scrambled eggs dish arrives at our table, topped with white Alba truffles and on a bed of mushroom relish. Its wine pairing, a 2014 Argiolas “Costamolino” Vermentino, is citrusy and refreshing, hitting both the mushroom and truffle’s pungent notes while delightfully balancing the soft scrambled egg.

West/Branzino a La Plancha
[Branzino a La Plancha, Yukon Gold potatoes ragout, celery, chive butter sauce]

Another winning pour is Truchard Roussanne’s 2013 Carneros from Napa Valley, imparting a lovely lychee note that works with the grilled branzino and its accompaniments.

West/Braised Wagyu beef cheek
[Braised Wagyu beef cheek, roasted squash and apples, sage jus]

The braised Wagyu beef cheek is so tender, alongside seasonal roasted squash and apples in a sage jus, the 2013 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon marrying the silky textures of both meat and wine.

West/Foie gras parfait
[Foie gras parfait, Agassiz chestnuts, cranberries, toasted brioche]

My husband chose the chef tasting menu where the foie gras parfait (with Agassiz chestnuts, cranberries, toasted brioche) was enhanced by a glass of Pfaff Gewurtztraminer 2013, perhaps our favourite wine discovery of the evening.

West/Diver-caught scallop
[Diver caught scallop, red cabbage in textures, bacon jam]

The diver caught scallop (and its wine, Laughing Stock’s 2013 Pinot Gris) follow nicely on the palate, the Pinot Gris a tad lighter in profile yet no less flavourful in the mouthfeel.

West/Slow-cooked lamb neck
[Slow-cooked lamb neck, spinach, parsnips in textures, rosemary essence]

Slow-cooked lamb neck gets a lovely winter treatment, dressed with spinach, parsnips in textures, rosemary essence and if opted for, a warming glass of Chapoutier Occultum 2012 Lapidem, the shiraz/grenache combination complimenting the lamb very nicely.

A nice way to break the main entree with dessert is with the optional cheese plate ($10, includes two cheeses, fruit, warm multigrain mini toasts, quince jam and toasted Agassiz hazelnuts).

West/Quince cake
[Quince cake, calvados cream, apple sorbet, fresh pomegranate]

Desserts are served in small portions, mine a chocolate torte with strawberry poached pear, his a quince cake featuring calvados cream, apple sorbet and fresh pomegranate.

West/Chocolate torte, strawberry poached pears
[Chocolate torte, strawberry poached pears, pecan crumble, raspberry gelato]

While we didn’t sample the vegetarian tasting menu (including Porcini mushroom gnocchi, Glen Valley squash ravioli and grape pavlova with puffed grains), we were satisfied with both variety and portion of our two selected holiday tastings.

West Restaurant/bar

If you’re feeling in the festive mood or want to spoil your colleagues with a sumptuous, top-quality meal in one of Vancouver’s loveliest dining establishments, we highly recommend West, located at 2881 Granville Street (corner of West 13th) in Vancouver. They’re open for lunch, bar service (5:30 pm to late), dinner and weekend brunch (10:30 am to 2:30 pm).

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