1038 Canada Place
Signature Drink: Geisha
Signature Dish: Shoyu ramen with Berkshire pork
Dinner & drinks for two: $90
The piano was the first thing to draw my eye. This, despite the monolithic expanse of glass surrounding the new Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel lobby, the light wood and marble accents, and the floating origami sculpture that beckoned like a sly dragon to the upstairs dining area. Truth is, the white Fazioli grandâ€”think Steinway, but with richer toneâ€”brought out my inner music geek as I contemplated how Rachmaninoff would sound on an instrument like that.
I tore myself away eventually, wiped the drool off my shirt, and headed upstairs to check out the more intimate setting of Oru, the hotel’s flagship restaurant and the new home of executive chef David Wong, a former Bocuse d’Or finalist who placed in the top ten worldwide.
The room, like the rest of the hotel, was designed by North Vancouver-based architects McFarlane Green Biggar, and is a minimalist monument to sustainable design. A long, white oak wallâ€”cut and laid to mimic the folded sections of the origami sculpture aboveâ€”bisects the room, along with a communal dining table, and separates the space between the banquet seating and open-concept kitchen. MGB, along with local artist Joseph Wu, are also responsible for the 180-foot-long origami sculpture, which doubles as a light fixture.
As for the food, it exhibits the same clean, sustainable focus as the interior. Wong is a master of ramen, and his handmade noodles are slurp-licious. One version with shoyuâ€”a dark salty soy sauceâ€”and slow-braised Berkshire pork belly ($15) was an amazing mix of clean, rich, fat, salt and crunch (the latter came from the fresh bamboo shoots). A hot and sour broth ($9) with early B.C. spot prawns, shimiji mushrooms and a dash of chili oil was an aromatic and heady bowl, poured over the solids table-side. Most dishes are made to share tapas-style, so count on ordering about four or five for two people. There are some mains that can stand alone, if you wish, like the phenomenal chawanmushi ($26), a round plate of egg-based savoury custard topped with seared Qualicum Bay scallops and braised daikon. A small version of the mou shou duck ($12) was scented with star anise and sided with steamed buns. There weren’t enough buns to handle the meat, however, so we had to make do with our chopsticks.
The hotel offers still and sparkling filtered waterâ€”they carbonate the latter themselvesâ€”and although it cost us $8 for a carafe of the sparkling, it was refilled throughout our meal at no charge. And, admittedly, it’s a nice way of minimizing waste from water bottles.
This might be just the latest luxe offering in the Fairmont’s collection, but with the sustainable interior and menuâ€”and the sustainable pricesâ€”the sustainability of this restaurant’s future is looking very green indeed.
Pfaffenheim’s Spring Release
The cherry blossoms are falling, the crocuses are blooming, and, despite the snow on the mountains, spring is almost here. Pfaffenheim’s 2008 Gewürztraminer is an interesting mix of spicy pepper and nutmeg notes with an almost floral aroma. Perfect with stronger cheeses, fruit desserts, or some boiled lobster. BCLS $19.99.
Earth Hour is on March 27. Save some watts and dine by candlelight at restaurants like Yew at the Four Seasons, Raincity Grill, or Blue Water Café. Visit individual restaurant websites for details.
Le Gavroche’s (1616 Alberni St) annual lobster festival is on now until April 18. Enjoy a lobster-packed three-course meal for $35 (optional wine pairings for $25). Menu options include lobster-grapefruit salad, seared lobster with lamb sweetbreads, lobster Thermidor, lobster with beef tenderloin, and desserts. Call 604-685-3924 for reservations.
Go Whole Hog
On March 21, Mis Trucos (1141 Davie St) will host a Spring BBQ Kickoff. $50 includes a full meal, starting with Barnholden’s signature tapas, followed by an all-you-can-eat spread of roast suckling pig, BBQ beef ribs, grilled wild salmon, grilled sausages and more. Beer, sangria and cocktails included. All proceeds go towards the Give a Better Life Foundation. Call 604-566-3960 for tickets.
Food in Brief
Judas Goat Taberna, the latest Blood Alley offering from Sean Heather, is now officially open and serving Spanish-style tapas.
The historic Salt Building (85 West 1 Ave) will soon be home to a restaurant, coffee shop, bakery and brewpub under the Mark James umbrella of companies.