My epic trip to British Columbia had to end at some point, and the itinerary gods from Tourism Vancouver made sure the week culminated with lunch at West, a revered restaurant that’s a key part of Jack Evrensel’s Top Table Group, which also includes Blue Water Cafe and CinCin in Vancouver, and Araxi in Whistler. West opened in 2000 and Executive Chef David Gunawan remains committed to staying “True to our Region, True to the Seasons,” and considering many of my meals adhered to that theme, it was a fitting conclusion.
Enter West and find a long bar backed by handsome wood shelving that hosts hundreds of bottles. The dining room features concentric, lake-like metal rings overhead. In back, a showcase kitchen is glass sided, featuring a pass with marble counter and visible chefs.
We received house-made pumpkin seed whole wheat and olive chive bread, along with rich, organic butter. The first composed plate that Chef Gunawan presented was an amuse bouche of silky, seared Vancouver Island scallop, a house-made “Fruit Roll Up” of sweet dehydrated watermelon, plated in a watermelon and rhubarb broth with pickled strawberries, raw almond, crisp celery shavings and bits of sweet citrus. This was an auspicious, refreshing start.
Chilled Green Asparagus Soup ($11.50) started as an asparagus salad with tangy Salt Spring Island goat cheese, a crispy milk tuile, roasted lemon and lovage pesto and quickly became soup, as the concentrated green asparagus broth was poured tableside.
Lois Lake Steelhead Trout ($25) incorporated some of the best bites from B.C. waters, including a rosy, crisp skinned fillet of naturally rich fish, one large spot prawn and pea ravioli, and an array of pea preparations, including a central pool of puree, shoot salad, firm, fresh peas and carrot and orange beurre blanc. Chef Gunawan even added local morels, which soak up sauces like a sponge.
Bartender David Wolowidnyk paired my trout with a fresh, herbaceous cocktail involving housemade elderflower liqueur, yellow chartreuse, sauvignon blanc, citric acid, sugar and celery bitters. He garnished the coupe with transparent celery shavings. “As usual, I look at the dish and sculpt something to match it,” said Wolowidnyk, who has plenty of experience pairing cocktails with food.
We didn’t have an opportunity to try anything from pastry chef Rhonda Viani, since my flight home was imminent, but based on the cross section of flavors during my lunch, it’s clear that West is committed to using the best local ingredients to create distinctly flavorful cuisine.
Note: My meal at West was complimentary, as part of a tour hosted by Tourism Vancouver.