L’Abattoir, 217 Carrall St., Gastown, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J2 (604) 568-1701
Some restaurant experiences leave a mark. A night at L’Abattoir inks an indelible, permanent tattoo. Located in the heart of Gastown between Gaoler’s Mews and Blood Alley, the buzzing Vancouver resto is self-described as “French influenced West Coast fare.” My take was this:
To be fair, perspective is often limited to a single night’s snapshot but the staff and service want not for honing. Palate expanding cocktails break ice. Ministration pleases in perfect pace and pitch. Post-minimalist wine list dotted by just enough global diversity and local accent indulges comfort zones. Sommelier Robert Herman, while busy in occupation and clearly gliding confidently within his domain, did so right by me. First by pouring a tiny lot, rare Okanagan and then a monopole white Burgundy, punching so far above its pedigree.
Chef Lee Cooper’s canvasses are like tectonic, subterranean plates. Each dug in beneath the crust, reaching deeper layers, uncovering a treasure here, a fossil there. Memorable and sublime experience. Mean it.
Domaine Michelot ‘Clos de Montmeix’ Monopole 2011 (wine-searcher.com, $28.60) from the heart of Meursault village is enervetic and yes, Meursault-ish in all the right ways. Lifted by layers of limestone and grounded by clay earth. Rich, refined and refreshing vixen, “gorgeous and alone, face to face.” Impossible Burgundy. 91
Poplar Grove Viognier Haynes Creek 2012 ($14/68) made exclusively for L’Abattoir (45 cases) is resplendent as an orchard of orange blossom. Harnessed intensity, suggesting Condrieu but expressing Okanagan inward and outward. Sweet, fleshy fruit mottled with aka or edible tree lichen as of the Ponderosa Pine. Savoury quality in Viognier really ties the flavours and textures of salty, chewy, crunchy and piquant together. 91 @poplargrovewine
Upon departing L’Abattoir, I found Gastown in the crowded throes of the final laps of the Grand Prix, Global Relay. Nothing like a bit of high-level cycling to send you home spinning.
Cross the Burrard Street Bridge or cycle around False Creek, past Granville Island and find yourself in the quieter climes of Kitsilano. Kits Beach buzzes on a beautiful day and just in case there’s trouble, the fuzz are deployed in position.
Fable Kitchen, 1944 W 4th Ave Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7, (604) 732-1322
The name forms an abridge from farm to table, coined by Top Chef Canada contestant Trevor Bird. Enter Fable, the Kitsilano buy local, serve fresh, keep it chill eatery. Bird’s vision? “Sourcing local product and delivering great flavors in a fun and non-pretentious setting.”
B.C.’s wineries are more than well represented, thanks to Bird, Kathy Schleyer and Ron MacGillivray. The wine card affords ample opportunity to sample the Okanagan Valley. ‘Canned Tuna’ not so much deconstructs as coddles Albacore, to be playful, sweet, soft shale lifted by necessary Maldon Salt.
Tinhorn Creek Gewürztraminer 2012 ($18.49) from the sandy gravel soils of Tinhorn Creek Vineyard (Golden Mile) is 100% cold fermented in stainless steel tanks. Aglow in bright, band twanging ripe orchard aromas, makes you want to climb a tree and pick forbidden fruit. Intense flavours “gave my heart a throb, to the bottom of my feet.” Over delivers with the full intent to solicit early consumption. Sends you Up on Cripple Creek. 90 @TinhornCreek @SandraOldfield
A most excellent appetizer I am convinced could offer repeated pleasure, once a week for a year is the “Spaghetti and Meatballs.” A study in luxe, calme et volupté. Duck, tender Tagliatelle and harmonious demi-glace demands a full basket of bread.
Pentâge Winery Gamay Noir 2012 ($20) carries cherry in necessary Cru Beaujolais style spice and adds even more leagues of depth to the duck. A faculty of tobacco deepens the stratum, down to earth. Most righteous #GoGamayGo. 89 @PentageWinery
Intersection Milepost Red 2011 ($20) is 100% Merlot (Estate Grown) from Oliver, B.C. Impressive, direct and adroit red from such a young operation. A feeling of fine, friable tannin intersects ripe, erubescent maraschino. 88
Liquidity Pinot Noir 2011 ($24.90) is the pride of Okanagan Falls and despite a cool growing season gives fully and completely of itself. Relucent Pinot, working for Pickerel and for Slow Cooked Spring Salmon. Vivid violet mauve in bloom, approachable and delectable. 88 @liquiditywines
A great deal of eating and drinking needs to be followed by some quiet time in quiet settings. A morning in Lynn Canyon and an afternoon at North Vancouver’s Deep Cove does the trick.
Good to go!