On Monday we joined friends at the Parkside restaurant in the West End. The restaurant, which features slightly Italian-inflected modern cooking, offers four courses, and you can choose prix fixe options of all four courses or any three. After pretending that we might be delicate flowers, we gave up the pretense after a cocktail and went for the four course option. We were seated outside on the lovely patio, though we had to move inside for dessert due to noise regulations barring occupancy of the patio after 10pm. So civilized, those Canadians.
For cocktails, I chose not to go fruity, for once, and had their Buckeye Martini, which is a nice take on the Dirty Martini. This is frozen vodka served in a glass rimmed with lemon salt, and served with a side of "gourmet" olives. There was also wine, but frankly I drank too much of it to remember many of the details.
My first course was seared scallops with pea puree, sherry vinegar caramel, and micro greens. Mr. Gateau had the foie gras terrine special, which was introduced as the chef's "signature dish." I followed with a lobster and sweet corn risotto and got to taste the wonderful gorgonzola ravioli that the friend next to me had. For a main course I had a superb New Zealand veal chop that was lemony and flavorful, which also marks the first time I've ever chosen to eat veal in the presence of Mr. Gateau, who usually spoils the mood by rolling his eyes and sighing ostentatiously. He was seated at the other end of the table, and by then it was dark anyway.
For dessert, we decided to share several options, including the cheese plate. We also had pink grapefruit sorbet with grapefruit sections and vanilla sauce, and poached apricots with almond cake and cinnamon ice cream.
On Tuesday evening we unloaded Young Master Gateau on his grandma, and we were hankering for sushi, so we decided to take Mr. Gateau's dad and stepmother out to thank them for all their babysitting help. We had always enjoyed Octopus' Garden in Kitsilano, but it's become a bit of a family joke that every year when we visit, they are somehow closed when we want to go. This time we made it, and we had a delicious meal, but it wasn't what we had expected. Sometime in the last few years, they have changed their menu from traditional sushi to the trendy "Japanese tapas" with an emphasis on order the chef's omakase, which as far as I can tell from eyeballing the table next to us just means they serve you basically all the dishes on the regular menu.
For the table we ordered: the special miso soup (which I did not have, opting instead for a sunomono-style seaweed salad), foie gras nigiri (which was delicious, but I'm not sure entirely worth it), tempura "fish and chips" with yam fries, spicy tuna mango roll (excellent), a "risky business" roll of smoked and fresh sockeye salmon with asparagus and avocado, and a fancy version of a California roll, plus probably something I'm forgetting.
As I said before, this was all really good, but it adds a level of fussiness and foodieness to food that at its best leverages pure simplicity to let the tremendous quality of the ingredients available in B.C. to take center stage. This is the second of our favorite traditional sushi places in Vancouver to go in this direction, and we're a little at sea with respect to knowing where to get plain old regular, but good quality, sushi in Vancouver with a pleasant ambiance.
Next post will tell you all about one of the best (and most expensive) meals I've ever had, or probably ever will have: Mr. & Mrs. Gateau unload their kids and go to Lumiere.