Fable, new farm to table spot on Fourth Avenue in Vancouver
Still a few bumps which I guess is fair enough since they haven't even officially opened yet. First the not so good: The menu does not disclose when gastriques are used (and that is often according to the chef) which was a problem for one of my DCs as both the spot prawns and the duck she ordered had unexpectedly sweet sauces. Also the spot prawns were not super fresh and at $12 for three they should be. But to me the biggest faux pas was that the menu promised fiddleheads with the duck and instead subbed green beans (!) with no warning. The server mentioned that the listed arctic char dish would be sockeye as they had that in fresh but stated clearly that there were no other changes. Oops. The main reason my DC ordered the duck was for the ferns! None of the other appetizers really jumped out and since Curtis Luk is known for desserts, two of us decided to save room for those. The menu doesn't quite seem to know what it wants to be.
My other DC had flat iron steak which he said was fine but not awesome. It came with potato fondant that was way oversalted (I tried it and it was too salty even for me, and I love salt).
Now for the good stuff: My gnocchi was excellent if a tad small for $16, lovely pea shoots peas and beautifully tender little pillows of pasta that had slightly caramelized exteriors. The desserts were also very good -- we had a bread pudding, a lemon pot de creme and the daily special which had two types of macaron, cookies and mini Pavlovas. I'm not a big dessert person but I'd go back for them.
To make up for the sauce/veg issues, they comped the duck and the bread pudding which was a nice thing to do. The room is much more inviting than when it was refuel though the layout is identical. We interacted with four staff members (Trevor Bird, Curtis, our server and the other male owner). Apart from a few stumbles mispronouncing granita and macaron, not knowing what was in some of the dishes, what coffee they were serving -- Caffe del Arte for the americanos -- very nice and enthusiastic. The meal took a long time, more than 2 hours. To everyone's credit, our comments were welcomed and received in the spirit they were given.
Overall, I'd go back as none of the problems affected me directly, but I'll wait a while as I usually do when a place first opens. I'm thinking they may have priced themselves a bit high for the neighbourhood and could run into some of the same problems refuel did but I hope not.
Rather than create a new post RE my dinner at Fable last night, I figured I would add to the discussion here.
Overall, we had a super dining experience! The food (especially the appetizers, which seem to be good value for what you get) was all tasty, the room was buzzing with a good vibe, and the staff looked after us well.
When we first arrived at Fable, Mr. SF and I were both surprised to see Jimmy Stewart (of Top Chef Canada) in the kitchen window - I didn't realize that he was working here as well! The front of house person seemed a bit frazzled, and didn't remember me from 10 minutes previously when I'd popped in to inquire if our table might be ready ahead of time since we were early. This was very understandable though, since the restaurant was packed full, and she seemed to be receiving calls pretty much non-stop.
I decided to order an appetizer for my "main course" in an attempt to save enough room for Curtis' dessert offerings, and I'm so glad I did. From what I saw at my table and coming out of the kitchen, the main courses looked a bit underwhelming. The starters however, were imaginative and tasty!
First course - "The Best Canned Tuna" for him and the chickpea fritters for me - both dishes were outstanding. The tuna was rich, salty, citrusey, and a great summer evening dish. I am a sucker for fried items, especially falafel made with real chickpeas, and the fritters here did not disappoint. All the toppings (curry mayo, pickled onions, pea shoots and cilantro) were tough to keep on the fork, but well worth the work. Oh, and we also got the daily bread special to share, because neither of us can resist jalapeno cornbread, and this was a very good bread course – texture and flavour were spot on.
Main course - Duck breast for him and Duck meatball for me - No big complaints about the duck breast, meat was well cooked, though technically I prefer for the fat to be a bit more rendered, but that’s totally nit-picking. No real WOW factor on the plate, but solid. The scallion perogies were a standout. However the duck meatball was amazeballs! Crunchy exterior, moist juicy interior, nice little mushroom bits. Comes on top of a perfectly sized, perfectly cooked portion of tagliatelle in a delicious white sauce, which blends well with the juicy meatball bits. Apparently the meatball is stuffed with a sauce-gel cube which melts during cooking, but mine didn’t really “sploosh” when I cut into it. No complaints about the juiciness though. No complaints full stop, it was a great dish. I’m salivating right now thinking about it…
Dessert course – I could easily not have ordered dessert, but we wanted to support Curtis – I was totally crushed when he got knocked out of the competition so early. We ordered the daily sweet bites, which appears to be the same course as greyelf got. The pavlovas were memorable, but the macarons didn’t taste like much except for sugar, and the cookies I must admit were not great. Apparently the strawberry dessert Mr. SF ordered was good, because it vanished before I could taste it! Really want to try the lemon pot de crème next time.
Note: I think it must have been Trevor Bird’s night off, since I didn’t see him at all. Ron MacGillivray, Curtis Luk and Jimmy Stewart were all very much in attendance and taking great care of all the guests.
Overall, I’m thrilled to have this place in the neighbourhood, and I’ll be back, but perhaps more for sharing of a bunch of small plates, rather than main courses.