Luke's Executive Chef Jesse Joban

With a new chef on board, it was time to revisit Luke’s Corner Bar and Kitchen on Granville Street.

Executive Chef Jesse Joban has an impressive resume. He worked for Melissa Craig at Bearfoot Bistro for five years, was the first sous chef at Victoria’s Noodle Box, and helped open Parkside, La Buca, Pied à Terre, and Hawksworth. After stints at Little Nest and Pentola, Luke’s followed. Chef Joban’s been brought on to take the menu up a notch, after Megan Anahaw’s departure.

Luke's Lunch-5

Several proven Luke’s menu items have been revamped while Joban has added a few new dishes such as the Halibut Ceviche and Lime Chili Chicken. His ceviche is prepared in the Brazilian style, thanks to a Brazilian colleague who gave him tips on authentic preparation. Jesse makes most of the sauces from scratch and is influenced by Thai flavours. One of his favourite late-night dining spots is Gyoza King; he also enjoys a good pho or ramen on occasion.

Luke's Lunch-4

I took a seat on the covered patio to capture the final day or two of dry weather, sipping a Phillips Blue Buck while classic rock tunes played on the speakers.

Luke's Tuna Terrine, sashimi-grade tuna, avocado, citrus, mustard tatsoi, ginger potato chips, wasabi mayo
[Luke’s Tuna Terrine]

Lunch began with Tuna Terrine ($13), a beautiful marriage of flavours and freshness derived from sashimi-grade tuna, avocado pieces, citrus wedges, mustard tatsoi (adding some bite), homemade ginger potato chips, and wasabi mayo.

Luke's Tabbouleh/Quinoa salad, mint, tomato, cucumber, lemon-tahini dressing, minced green onion, chopped red onion
[Luke’s Tabbouleh/quinoa salad]

Half-size portions of Tabbouleh quinoa and Watermelon with oven-roasted tomato salads followed. While the tabbouleh quinoa salad (with its mint, tomato, cucumber, minced green onion, chopped red onion and lemon tahini dressing) is a regular on the menu, the watermelon and oven-roasted tomatoes salad (with Thai basil, brie-topped crostini, arugula, and balsamic dressing) was the speciality salad of the day (regular salad portions are $10, specialty salad, $11).

The tabbouleh and sweet tomatoes combined so well with the mint and arugula. The dressing isn’t overpowering and the bite of the arugula together with the cucumber and tabbouleh added both crunch and texture to my palate.

Luke's speciality salad: watermelon, oven-roasted tomatoes, Thai basil, arugula, crostini with brie, balsamic dressing
[Luke’s Watermelon/oven-roasted tomato salad]

Watermelon and oven-roasted tomatoes is a combination worth further exploration. Doesn’t sound like it would work, but somehow it does, especially with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and fresh-picked arugula from ‘out back’ added for heartiness.

Let me explain what ‘out back’ means in Luke’s world.

Urban Stream micro greens, grown onsite at Luke's

Owner Mark Roberts is dedicated to a sustainable operation, so much so that organic waste composting takes place directly behind the restaurant with the help of Nick HermesUrban Stream. Nick has turned over 1,000 lbs. of organic waste into usable compost since the restaurant’s opening, and grows a hearty supply of herbs and micro greens inside his container office.

Urban Stream micro greens, grown onsite at Luke's Urban Stream micro greens, grown onsite at Luke's

Whenever Chef Jesse Joban needs a few sprigs of Thai basil or a bunch of arugula, he’s not far from the source. This is truly a zero-mile diet in action.

Luke’s is a strong supporter of Ocean Wise seafood. I also noticed a gluten-free menu available.

Luke's Wild sea scallops, bacon, lardon lentils, green beans, carrot purée
[Wild sea scallops, bacon, lardon lentils, green beans, carrot purée]

Pacing of the dishes allows enjoyment and savouring between them. I didn’t feel rushed but did anticipate the entrée: Wild sea scallops with bacon, lardon lentils, green beans, and carrot purée. Yet another gorgeous creation and presentation with flavour-combining victory. Snappy, thin green beans play against the soft, tender scallops, while the slight smokiness of the bacon works wonderfully with the lentils and carrot purée.

Luke's Lunch/Mighty Leaf Tea break before dessert

A dish of lemon posse ($7) with homemade shortbread (chef Joban’s also studied pastry arts) arrived just as I finished with a pot of Mighty Tea Leaf’s Moroccan Mint tea. Mighty Leaf is a California tea company (with a Canadian presence) that I’ve enjoyed as far away as Phoenix, Arizona.

Luke's Lemon Posse, fruit compote, housemade shortbread
[Lemon Posset, fruit compote, housemade shortbread]

Posset is an old English dessert that originated as a hot drink with curdled milk and ale or wine, used as a cold remedy in the Middle Ages. Its modern equivalent is a type of thick, eggless custard.

This version arrived with fresh blueberry, raspberry, and pear compote, with scrumptious (and light!) shortbread cookies on the side, also prepared by Chef Joban (a former pastry arts student). I found out just how thick the custard really was when I tried to dip a shortbread cookie into it, breaking the cookie right in half. Even so, it was a divine and not-too-sweet finish to a meal where everything I ate looked and tasted fresh and wholesome.

The chalkboard inside the restaurant lists current craft beer tap offerings. A flight of three 6 oz. sampler glasses is $7.50 and on Micro Mondays, all rotation taps are a buck off the regular price.

Next to a BC and international wine menu are Luke’s red and white deals, a $5 glass of wine picked by the restaurant. Caesars, mimosas, lemon drop martinis, and Luke’s Lemonade are some of the cocktails on offer.

Luke’s is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch and is located at 2996 Granville Street at 14th. Visit the website for detailed menus and news.

My lunch was compliments of Luke’s Corner Bar & Kitchen.

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