I came, I ate, I conquered.
I spent an entire month in Vancouver setting up Vancouver Food Tour‘s new Vancouver Brewery Experience. (Historic Molson Coors opened up its doors to the public for the first time since 1953. VFT is operating the bi-weekly guided tours + beer tastings!) Use the special code “friends” to get 10% off, ok?
When I was back in Vancouver, my days were spent working (75%), eating (20%), and hopefully getting some shut eye. Needless to say, time was sacred and I only had enough for great food, fine drinks, and the best of friends.
We sat at the bar, which was perfect because we could converse with the bartenders. It was nice to see some familiar staff’s faces and especially Josh Pape (The Diamond) and James Iranzad (Abigail’s Party)’s gleaming, relieved-we’re-finally-open grins.
As we caught up, J and I naturally ordered cocktails upon cocktails. This was inevitable every time we would hang out. However, at the cocktail-centric Wildebeest, it was particularly necessary.
The meal itself was nothing short of fantastic. Chef David Gunawan’s (formerly at West) menu represented what Vancouverites were yearning for but had yet to find. The ingredients were obviously seasonal and he executed the dishes with a bold, unpretentious flare. He fearlessly wove a variety of meats and offal with softer, more subtle accents. The lamb tartare with nasturtium and pickled ramps would be a memorable example.
One dish after the next, the flavours were unapologetic yet refined, comforting yet complex. My favourite of the evening that made me close my eyes to savour each bite was the roasted sweetbreads with heirloom onions (prepared 3 ways) and verjus gastrique.
Acidity was prominent in the menu’s flavour profile. Using acids besides citrus, in the form of shrubs and vinegars, has remerged in the cocktail scene. Here, the chef carefully tied acids into savoury dishes to add punch and cut through heaviness. The whey sauce with tapioca on the olive oil poached halibut was one of such palatable surprises.
Speaking of drinks, their cocktails were categorized by fortitude and were designed to pair well with food. Their creations ranged from “lighter, cleaner, refreshing”, “complex, unusual, bright”, “thoughtful, subtle, herbaceous”, to “bolder, darker, richer”.
The drink that immediately caught my eye was the Horseradish Sour. This frothy and citric gin sipper had just enough horseradish and freshly cracked pepper to tickle my nose. Josh Pabe kindly gave me the simple recipe to share with you – sweet!
Keep scrolling down to see what we shared on opening night.
I’ll be back before you know it, Wildebeest, for your bone marrow, foie gras torchon, pork jowl, beef tongue, and all things meaty and fabulous. Thanks, Josh, for the cocktail recipe.
Wildebeest 120 W Hastings Street