Sunday, 28 August 2011

WEST RESTAURANT: AN ANNIVERSARY TRADITION


Freshly shucked scallops sourced locally and seared to perfection.  Isn't it so pretty?  At West, the August Tasting Menu has so many highlights.  However, I can't really call dishes highlights because that implies there were lowlights too!


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Am I the only one who loves shaped butter?  I’m all over that.  At West Restaurant, the butter for your freshly baked breads is shaped into a dome.  There is also EVOO in a small bowl if you prefer that.   The tiny breads are cute and warm and they each have a unique flavour.  One had potato, another aniseed; yet another had other grains. 

The attention to detail at West is what draws me back again and again.  We have come here for the last 4 years to celebrate our anniversary. 

The waiter suggested a Rosé to go through our August Tasting Menu.  I only wanted one glass.  It worked well.

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See that Carrera marble on the walls?  It’s also used for the countertop where the chefs present their food to be taken out to diners.  I think marble is so classic.

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The Amuse Bouche was a Tomato Gelée.  It was gorgeous and very refreshing.  There were so many minute elements in it like the finely diced veggies, the flower blossoms and the feta complement.

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The Summer Squash Salad:  dungeness crab stuffed squash blossom tempura, grilled zucchini, nasturtium emulsion.

The summer squash dish was a work of art.  The squash theme in the dish was displayed in the use of the stuffed squash blossom tempura and the thinly sliced and grilled zucchini.  The other elements from the garden were the nasturtium emulsion.  There was a drizzle of balsamic reduction and I think the dark powder was onion.  It looks like pepper but it’s not.

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Just look at that tasty morsel of crab!  The blossom was stuffed with crab and you also received a nice whole chunk of crab meat on your plate.

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SAWMILL BAY SCALLOP:  crispy pork belly, lightly pickled daikon, organic radishes, seaweed salad, sesame and soy dressing.

I don’t turn away pork belly ever.  The thinly sliced pork belly was crisped up and reminded me much of Chinese Roast Pork (siu yuk).  The Asian elements also recurred with the pickled daikon, the seaweed and the sesame soy dressing.

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THIESSEN FARM QUAIL:  grilled then glazed with pomegranate reduction, corn and saffron puree, frisee and string bean salad, sherry jus.

Here’s the “back view” of the dish.  I particularly enjoyed the corn and saffron.  Such intense flavour!  The quail was charred nicely and served medium rare…just the way I like it.  It was like buttah.   I even ate those little flower blossoms.  See them? They’re so pretty and yet edible.  I love it.

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KYUQUOT SOUND SABLEFISH:  sake kasu marinated sablefish, soy marinated eggplant (this I did not see in the dish…but perhaps it was subbed in with bok choy?), shimeji mushrooms, sea asparagus (under the fish), vegetable tempura, dashi consomme.

The waiter comes to the table with a little porcelain jug of the dashi and pours it into your bowl just before you eat it.    The tempura bits were so crunchy and good.  The textural play was fantastic.  The shimeji mushrooms were cooked perfectly and not flabby like mushrooms can often be.   The sablefish was the highlight of the meal I thought.  I liked the quail, but give me a good hunk of fish well-prepared and I’m so happy.

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This is a Pre-Dessert…to cleanse your palate and get those tastebuds ready for the dessert.

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Called a Mango Yogurt Dome, this treat is a frozen yogurt-based ball dipped in a mango puree.  All of it is frozen and the waiter said it’s best eaten slightly soft…if you can wait that long.  The dome rests on a blackberry/raspberry compote.

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Stomach’s not big on desserts but really enjoyed the Mango Yogurt Dome.  In fact he preferred it to the main dessert. 

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HONEY MARINATED STRAWBERRIES, BANANA CAKE
WHITE CHOCOLATE CREME CHEESE CUSTARD, STRAWBERRY SORBET

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The strawberry sorbet is the little ball resting on top of the banana cake.  The white chocolate cream cheese custard was so ethereal and creamy.   It was similar to the summer squash salad in that you could see the motif of the main ingredient repeated in various forms throughout the dish.  In this dessert, the strawberries were macerated in the honey, then frozen into a sorbet.  The banana was not only in the cake but also in the sauce that it rested on.  Everything tied together so well.

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PETITS FOURS:  Lime truffle chocolates

Just like last year, the pastry chef wrote us a message on our last course.  Very thoughtful!  The staff were excellent.   I was extremely happy with the service and attention to the finest details.  The meal was magnificent; locally sourced as far as I could tell and prepared very well.  The August Tasting Menu followed a Short Story line (listening English students?) and the dishes tied together to tell of a Late Summer Theme.  I loved that. 

Below are pics I took of the menu, but I guess you could just as easily find them on their website HERE.
As the menu declares, the kitchen accomodates GF, allergies and dietary restrictions. The seafood is OceanWise.

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yah.  I know.  What am I doing taking a picture of the restroom?  Well, it’s pretty and clean enough to take a picture of and no one was there either.   Nice restrooms pretty much make or break a restaurant in my point of view.  I think it reflects a restaurant’s attention to cleanliness and detail.  If a restroom isn’t somewhere you’d feel comfortable visiting, then I’d wonder about the kitchen.  West’s restroom is clean and decorated tastefully.  It’s not a huge restroom with a big screen t.v. , blaring music and whatnot (thankfully) but it’s classic, serene and quite lovely.

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Lining the hallway leading to the restrooms are the various awards that West Restaurant has earned. 

Well, it seems as if West Restaurant has turned out to be our go-to restaurant for our anniversary for the last few years.   I had wanted to try Vij's initially, but seeing the 30 odd people standing in the sweltering late summer heat waiting for the doors to open at 5:30pm (it was only 5:15) made me reconsider.  Waiting like that seemed so inhumane.  I mean, how good could the food really be?  No reservations accepted?  Was it worth the uncomfortableness?  Not for me.

It didn't take me more than 5 seconds after looking at the Vij's lineup to declare that we were going to West again.  We sauntered over after ogling some cool kitchen stuff at Williams Sonoma and popped in without a reservation.  They had just opened and we were one of the first tables seated.  Cool.  Relaxing.  Comfortable.  Fortuitous.  It was an enjoyable meal.  We'll probably be back again next year as it seems to be a tradition now.

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3 comments:

pennyandrusty said...

Happy belated anniversary

Cakebrain said...

Thanks sis!

a. maren said...

gorgeous pictures and amazing dinner! happy anniversary you lucky girl!

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