by Lauren Mote
La Isla Boneta
It’s ironic in a way that a restaurant so gorgeous, so simple and so wonderful, literally called “beautiful” in spanish, somehow stands in the sun at the corner of Carall and West Cordova, right on the outskirts of Gastown, and vividly close to the Vancouver transient east-side.
On a brisk Thursday night, 7 restaurant industry women decided to have a ladies night, and venture out to see if the slogan speaks the truth, “Boneta loves you”.
I arrived late of course, but this time it had nothing to do with a last minute outfit change, I was in class writing my final wine studies exam – a unique and truly believable excuse! The girls were already waiting for me.
Boneta is interesting; their menu is projected in white letters, on a large black screen directly above the kitchen pass; truly unique, but the menus are still circulating on paper throughout the restaurant. The decor itself is interesting. The restaurant has two tiers – tier one houses the bar, the kitchen and several stadium-like tables right at the pass. Tier two requires you to jump down a couple of steps, and stretches along the length of the windows facing West Cordova, channelling around the far corner, in an L-shape, past the inconspicuous wine cellar that we see part-owner and sommelier Neil Ingram (previously of Lumiere) entering in and out of throughout the evening.
A rumour has been spreading in town that Boneta will be in this location for one year, and then the lease is going to another tenant – in saying that, the decor promotes unique details however extremely easy to transport to a new location. Art deco mirrors, mostly of square and rectangle shapes, with brass trim hang in abstract ways along the ceilings and walls, controlled by antique brass chains. It made the space seem bigger and more luxurious.
Back to the dinner. The owners thought it a nice touch to bring a round of pink sparkling wine for us “Goldfish Managers” – and we happily accepted! To start, we had three small plate suggestions from our server, and a round of aperitif drinks. I started with a dry Hendrick’s Gin martini, with muddled olives, it went perfectly with our small plates and amuse bouche: Jeremy, the Executive Chef, brought an amuse that was purposely constructed to resemble a “goldfish” – fingerling potato with tomato compote. The three small plates: bison carpaccio with warm mushrooms, arugula salad and poached quail eggs; tri-colour beet salad (white, red and pink swirl) with buffalo mozzarella and granny smith apple vinaigrette; tuna tartare with a luscious puddle of fig and foie gras.
For our second course, a bottle of 2001 Louis Jadot, one of the “off list” suggestions made by Mr. Ingram. This was paired fabulously with my seared dorado, king crab risotto and roasted vegetables. The other girls had scallops, duck, and beef tenderloin dishes that went exquisitely with the aged Burgundy.
Dessert approaches, and I am stuffed. I end the evening with a glass of 2005 Domaine Philippe Delesvaux Coteaux Du Layon, a brilliant chenin blanc based dessert wine from the Loire Valley in France, and a big old cheese plate. As you will notice from past stories I have written, I am the proud owner of an absolute cheese obsession – so the fact that I am stuffed doesn’t mean that I will ever pass up a nice piece of something pungent, creamy and stinky.
I think on that particular night, Boneta did show their unconditional love for us ladies; and we returned the favour with a nice tip and word of mouth marketing to get this east side gem bouncing. Who knows how long we’ll actually have their hospitality for!
1 West Cordova