Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Vancouver Eats: The Farmer's Apprentice

Last night some friends and I checked out a restaurant that opened earlier this year in Vancouver called The Farmer's Apprentice on 6th Avenue and Fir.

Despite it's unassuming location, the restaurant opened to much praise due to former Wildebeest chef David Gunawan who is focusing on doing his own thing here with local seasonal produce presented in creative ways and bringing out the delicate flavours.

The menu is designed where dishes are shared and so the more people the more dishes you can sample. Also beware the plates are relatively small, tapas-style...

You have to also order bread ($4) which seems strange since it's a given at every other place, but here the sourdough comes warm with an interesting spread of pureed caramelized onions that looks like hummus with olive oil and sea salt.

For appetizers we tried the hop-cured trout with verbena, kolhrabi, radishes and cultured cream ($12) topped with fish roe. It's a refreshing start, the cream hardly heavy and we liked the play of textures here, soft, crunchy, round and flat and the ingredient combination worked well here.

Next came diced octopus ($14) cooked with pomegranate molasses combined with slices of cauliflower and fresh yogurt. Who knew these would come together so well? The colours were also very appetizing.

We were intrigued by the concoction of farro, a kind of grain that was cooked to give a sort of risotto texture, with hedgehog mushrooms, hazelnuts and apples ($10). The plate was finished with shaved cheese and together the dish was hearty but also light and made for a perfect side dish (if it ever was one). We are intrigued by farro and hope to see it on more menus in the future...

Another wintery dish was the tagliatelle with oxtail marmalade that one of my friends found strange, but we enjoyed it immensely, the thick handmade pasta standing up nicely to the hearty, meaty flavours.

Perhaps not for the faint-hearted was the plate of sweetbreads with rutabaga, brussel sprouts and spruce jus ($15). Here the sweetbreads were lightly floured before being pan-fried to reveal a delicate taste.

Our main event was the most expensive item on the menu at $42, the dry aged rib eye with chanterelles, onions and red wine jus. The meat was cooked to perfection, basically seared and was extremely tender and juicy. We enjoyed every bite complemented with a kind of yam puree with arugula and the mushrooms.

We were just about full but intrigued by the desserts and tried both, baked pear with chocolate cake that was more like bits of chocolate cookie with smoked ice cream (the cream was smoked before it was made into ice cream), and Gunawan's version of pavlova with again chunks of meringue that deflated (not baked long enough?) with marscapone sauce, slices of kiwi fruit and honeydew sorbet.

Without wine the total was $40 per person and with wine another $10-12 dollars more including tip.

It's an interesting place to check out and the menu changes often enough for people to come regularly. However the number of plates can quickly add up as well as the bill. Nevertheless, it's definitely a place for adventurous foodies to satiate their cravings for interesting flavours.

The Farmer's Apprentice
1535 West 6th Avenue
604 620 2070

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