Being fabulously frugal means never having to say “I’m sorry, but I haven’t made it yet to the latest and greatest new restaurant.” Moreover, as my father’s restaurant was successful for 20 years, I know that any great restaurant will be around for a while because people will pay for food that is well-executed and which inspires you to exclaim in your most exuberant voice at the end of your meal – OMG.
So during every Dine Out Vancouver Festival, I try not to go hog wild as I have a strict budget that I’m adhering to. To that end, I usually hone in on new restaurants that seem to be on everyone’s radar and FORAGE seems to be one of the celebrated new kids on the block. During the Dish and Dazzle event, they wowed me with their offering of Stinging nettle and Halibut Cheek Canneloni topped with a morel mushroom puree (pictured above).
At $28 for a three course dinner, FORAGE is a real steal as the food can only be summarized as an unforgettable foodscape of tastes and textures. Chef Chris Whittaker manages to take common menu items and reconstruct them into culinary masterpieces that puts them leagues ahead of his competition.
Oh give me a home where the buffalo roams… on my plate as bison carpaccio, especially when it’s served at Forage. When you look at the description of this menu item, you wonder if there are too many flavors which might cause a crazy mardi gras of conflicting flavours, but it all works harmoniously together. Little dots of black pepper and cranberry jelly contrasted well together, adding depth of flavour to the bison while the crisp parsnip chips gave this dish that extra “pop”, making it the best carpaccio I have ever had.
Roasted Gelderman Farm Pork Belly with Crackling Alpine juniper braised cabbage, Celeriac Potato Puree, Okanagan Apple Chutney
Being Chinese means that by the time you reach the age of 30, you have probably had pork belly crackling 10,000 times. You can’t see the crackling in the photo above, but both Fay (@armadillob) and I needed a knife and fork to cut into our crackling because it was so crispy hard. Which is exactly the way crackling should be cooked – oh yes we reached the crackling jackpot! The juniper braised cabbage and apple chutney both provided a great contrast of flavours to the pork. If you can’t get a Dine Out reservation to FORAGE, then venture in on Thursdays as it’s the Thursday night special. But be forewarned that once you have this, you might want to come in every Thursday!
I’ve never had a financier which apparently is a French cake and to me, this has the texture of a muffin top with the crispy bready texture which makes it the best part of the muffin. It was like having two deserts as I ate this with alternated bites of bright blueberries and hazelnut praline.
Karl (@mywinepal) was nice enough to give both Fay and I a bite of his dessert and seriously, this is the “clever” desert I’ve ever had. Who would ever think of putting popcorn into a dessert so that you can scoop up the delicious drinking chocolate. To me this is a clever take off of Spanish churros and chocolate sauce as the sauce is just as thick as that which I’ve had in Spain.
I didn’t have a taste of this as I’m lactose intolerant, but chicharon (pork rinds) and soft quail’s egg in a chowder? Clever, making me think this is Asian inspired as you will often find eggs added to hot soups. Karl’s opinion – thumbs up.
FORAGE also offers Vista D’oro walnut wine by the glass which I couldn’t resist even though I’m on antibiotics. I also noticed a $12 craft beer taster trio plank with snack.
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5