by George Froehlich
It’s a trend.
A trend that is evident in some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants – young Turks are the new chefs on the block and the fruits of their labour are pretty amazing.
Two come to mind right off the bat, Andrea Carlson at Bishop’s and Robert Erickson at Wild Rice.
The latest one is Michael Carter at The Refinery.
This intimate, sexy, elegant 75-seater restaurant and wine bar on Granville Street, is testimony to how important a chef really is in the scheme of things.
Chef Carter has taken everyday dishes and turned them into something unique and outstanding.
Take the seared Albacore tuna appetizer.
A tarragon-mint crust, an orange jalapeno vinaigrette, crispy shallots deep-fried in a buttermilk batter, orange segments and avocado, take the ordinary to the sublime.
The same is true of the Portobello stuffed beef Carpaccio.
The Carpaccio drizzled with truffle aioli, sits atop thinly sliced mushrooms, with tiny little french fries – pomme paille – on the side, add some fantastic sea salt and parsley and the dish has punch and sparkle.
Boring zucchini often overcooked and mushy.
But under Carter’s deft hand the grilled Zucchini salad is crunchy, the Macedonian feta cheese much creamier than your traditional feta and that wicked white wine vinaigrette, add up to a salad that is memorable, fresh and alive.
And that standard tomato Boccocini salad is elevated to new heights.
Chef oven roasts the tomatoes, the cheese is marinated in a pesto sauce and red onions and excellent olive oil, complete this dish.
It adds up to a unique creamy deliciousness punctuated by the crunchy onions.
The pate of the day is pork shoulder.
The shoulder had been slow cooked for 15 hours and the Cannelli beans for three hours in bacon fat.
The pate is a study in contrasts – the hand pulled shoulder nicely mashed together with the beans and what you get is pate that is soft and chewy, full of amazing flavours, the mixed pickles and a wonderful mustard, drive your taste buds into sensory overload.
Three different in-house breads offer different textures and tastes, ready to have pate heaped upon them.
Two additional dishes – a cheese board and another board with a variety of different cured meats complete the meal.
The cured smoked buffalo and the German style bacon both were worthy of several ooh’s and ah’s.
The brie from a small Vancouver Island cheesemaker, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, was outstanding.
And for the grand finale, a goat cheese cake – the texture a little denser than a regular cheesecake.
The caramel almond crust gives crunch and those Italian sour cherries, a balance to the sweet crunch and the earthy taste of the cheesecake.
At the end of it all you walk away satisfied and pleased – the kitchen producing tasty, flavoursome food that is a delight to eat.
The wait staff providing excellent service.
It doesn’t get any better than that.