With award-winning cuisine that elevates the bar of gastronomic creativity to the peak of excellence, West undeniably captivates the imagination of anyone who walks through its doors. Known as the “jewel in Vancouver’s culinary crown”, I call it a paradise that no one in their right mind would ever want to leave.
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Episode 5 – An eight course dinner that won’t weigh you down
Image cutline: In a dinner that included an amuse bouche, five courses and three sweet courses, the dish that gets the prize for looking like it just emerged from the garden is the fifth course which was made from Sunchoke Puree, Heirloom Carrots, Watermelon Radish, raw Walnuts and cold pickled Sea Asparagus.
I took a seat at West Restaurant on South Granville and a flurry of memories came rushing back to me. A little more than a decade ago, this was the address that I used to go for “hands down” the best risotto in Vancouver. Back then it was called Gianni’s.
Shortly after the closure, Ouest took its spot. Over the years, they’ve distilled the name down to West.
Back then, if someone told me that in the future I would be sitting at a table with my vegan comrades putting the chef to task, I’d say they were nuts.
Now nuts are a staple in my diet and somehow I’ve arrived here in my journey, raw vegan. Not only did Executive Chef David Gunawan prepare a multi-course wonder for my guests and I, but bartender David Bain rose to the occasion and paired each course with an equally raw vegan and alcohol-free beverage.
In the tradition of all fine restaurants, an amuse bouche, sent with the compliments of the kitchen, arrived at our table – celery sorbet with young celery and a granulated malt. Given the creativity exuded in this dish, it was surely a sign of things to come.
In the case of the first beverage that Barman Bain delivered to our table, a mixture of unpasteurized, unfiltered Okanagan Apple Juice, homemade Oregeat and then finished with lemon, I could tell that the juice was in apple form the day before and that Bain was an accomplished mixologist.
The first dish that inspired the cocktail was a Braeburn Apple Slaw and a Mutzu Apple Linguine finished with homemade Almond Milk. When I queried our server about the topic, he informed me that the apple noodle took shape with the help of agar.
Thereafter, as if the kitchen owed us a debt of gratitude for some heroic act, four more courses, a pre-dessert, dessert and a small raw-vegan treat at the bill presentation graced our table, all paired with an equally special beverage.
At the end of the meal, I had a brief moment to hear profound thoughts from Executive Chef Gunawan. He didn’t say much but what he did say stuck, “being more intentional and deliberate about what you’re consuming on a day-to-day basis, I think is respectable. In this day and age, we never know where our food is coming from and what’s in our food. [Being raw Vegan] is cool.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Raj Taneja is part technologist, part entrepreneur, part social media thought leader and part foodie. Vegan comrades? He’s lost it, he needs your help. Someone send him a steak. His twitter username is @tinhead.