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Wildebeest--an evening migration to Hastings Street

el_lobo_solo Aug 29, 2012 11:17 PM

I had a bar seat in a familiar-looking (wood and iron work), yet beautiful, room. Great r&b music for most of the evening. The drinks list is extensive, including cocktail lists for “with food” and “without food”. I had the Rickety Fence (a take on apple cider with bitters) and some red wine later on. I started with the homemade bread (I couldn’t hear exactly what they were) with creative butters—yogurt, pork, and chicken. The olive oil-poached halibut was delicate and delicious. The sous vide then grilled pork jowl was also different. The pork jowl was good, but I’m not sold on the plum and pepper-scented oats with maple syrup the pork was on. I can see why this, with a poached egg, will be on their soon-to-be brunch menu. What I really enjoyed and was surprised with were the heirloom tomatoes, sorrel sorbet, fromage frais, and olive oil as dessert. Nice and light for what’s left of the summer. Other diners around me liked the more adventurous dishes, compared to my choices, like the lamb tartare, bone marrow, duck liver, and beef tongue.

No hiccups in service considering they just opened. Everyone was attentive and friendly, and the room got much busier as the evening went on.

  1. j
    jcolvin Jan 16, 2013 02:15 PM

    The sweetbreads are my favourite item on the menu. I do hope they stay permanently. They were perfect the night I went, soft in the middle, a bit crispy on the outside. Only quibble would be that the "wild" mushrooms weren't actually wild (well, not a lot of selection this time of year in terms of fresh wild mushrooms). They were very good nonetheless; I'd go for fresh speciality mushrooms over dried wild ones any day.

    1. a
      Anne M Jan 16, 2013 09:27 AM

      So is the departure of David Gunawan is big deal or will things carry on seamlessly as their press release suggests?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Anne M
        grayelf Jan 16, 2013 02:15 PM

        Argh, just when I'm finally going -- let's hope he doesn't phone it in on his final week... hope it won't make a huge impact but seems like it could. Sounds like the parting is reasonably amicable.

        http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/01...

        1. re: Anne M
          fmed Jan 16, 2013 04:08 PM

          It is a big deal and it won't be seamless, IMO.

          1. re: Anne M
            f
            FAM04 Jan 16, 2013 04:34 PM

            Saw this today too. Wes does bring some pedigree to the table as well and I think he will be just fine. On the other hand thoughts on David heading to Che Baba?

          2. c
            clutterer Aug 29, 2012 11:51 PM

            Pretty much the opposite experience I had tonight (the food was passable and the service tepid), but I'm willing to give them another shot given the short amount of time they've been open.

            4 Replies
            1. re: clutterer
              r
              reiney Aug 31, 2012 10:02 AM

              Agree, clutterer - I'm sure it's going to be patchy in the opening week(s) but look forward to trying it again. My sweetbreads were not degorged properly, and not at all crispy, whereas friends had "the most amazing ever" the night before (they're chefs, so I trust their judgment on that one).

              The service is hit or miss, too. After sending the sweetbreads back and having the server argue with me that they had to be done right because they're sous vide, my pressed kohlrabi spring rolls - basically lettuce wrapped in pressed kohlrabi, a creative presentation and very tasty but $9 might be a bit much for it - came out with a little worm on it. This doesn't bother me, but it bothers other people, and when I mentioned it to the server she effused "oh, our salad is *very* organic!". I found this hilarious...but perhaps not the right response.

              The dungeness crab chawanmushi was delicious though - not at all what I was expecting, being more of a foam than a set custard, but really nice. And I love the interior & the vibe. Hoping the rest comes together quickly for them and that it's a success because Vancouver could use a place like it.

              1. re: reiney
                c
                clutterer Aug 31, 2012 11:20 AM

                All of the service missteps are understandable. I hate to cut a place off for that when it's just starting to get its footing.

                To be fair, everything I ate (the breads with various meat butters, the pork croquette, the foraged greens, the trout and the pork jowl) was well executed, but they were just conceptually not thought through enough. I think that's the harder challenge to overcome, but I'm excited to see how they'll do it. I do agree - overall it is a good addition to the city.

                1. re: clutterer
                  b
                  betterthanbourdain Sep 13, 2012 08:55 PM

                  its a very good addition to the city, imho.
                  the comments are consistent to my experience.
                  but tending to my carnivorous penchant.
                  i liked the food prob a bit better than most would.
                  i've like Josh's cocktail, but somehow i'm on the minority in that i've never been 'wowed' by it like i've been with some other bartenders. that doesn't mean it isn't good. i just may not get it yet. i had only 2 cocktails so perhaps not enough of a sampling size.
                  i tried 10 items of the food menu.
                  the sweatbread SV, maybe not necessary. i tend to prefer a slight crunch to contrast the softer interior personally. all the proteins i thought were cooked to within 15% of perfection techniquely. which is high marks, imo.
                  the service was adequate. our server was good and accomodating.
                  my feeling with this food program, to a lesser extend the bar program almost all the servers would require some more knowledge training. but it wasnt a problem or an issue.

                  1. re: clutterer
                    s
                    sillewater Jan 18, 2013 11:12 PM

                    I was there the other day and I'd have to agree with this, where is the concept going?

                    To me there was something wrong with the service, maybe they are told to be that way but it just gives me an off-putting feeling. The sweetbreads were nicely done though.

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