Tonight, we checked out one of the new kids on the block – Gastropod, located on West 4th right beside fellow newcomer Fuel. Still on east coast time (and liking it), we made a reservation for 5:30 p.m. Due to the treacherous driving conditions (I mean, seriously, this is Vancouver not Montreal!), we arrived a little late. Fortunately, it appeared our late arrival didn’t inconvenience them as the front door was locked when we arrived. A group seated at one of the tables (I believe they were friends of the chef) flagged down one of the hostesses who unlocked the door and let us in.
The menu at Gastropod is small – about six appetizers, six main courses, and six desserts. There is a Prix Fixe option that allows you to select one appetizer, a main course, and a dessert for $42.50 which is a good deal if you’re eyeing some of the pricier choices. On this night, Fondy was feeling pricey while I opted for a more uncharacteristically restrained meal. Fondy started with the Foie Gras a la Gastropod, two pieces of foie gras (with the consistency of a torchon) served skewered, topped with pistachio and salt, and accompanied by an apple and a rhubarb puree. The foie gras was mysteriously flavorless. Fondy likened the twin purees to dining on baby food. Alas, I didn’t fare any better with my appetizer, the Tuna Mille-Feuille – alternating slices of marinated daikon and tuna in a confit pepper yuzu dressing. Unfortunately, the daikon thoroughly overwhelmed the subtleness of the tuna. For her main course, Fondy went with the braised beef ribs with glazed chesnut – accompanied by chanterelle, burdock, wilted spinach, and cipollini onions. The meat was very tender, the accompaniments perfectly cooked. I went with the slow-cooked ling cod with panko and almond cloud – a very nice, very flavorful piece of cod served on a bed of delicious crushed baby potatoes with leek, bok choy, and toasted almonds, the whole nestled in an almond foam. Both main courses were terrific but the portions were surprisingly small. For dessert, I went with the chocolate fondant with Earl Grey syrup, switching out the raspberry sorbet for a nice vanilla ice cream. The fondant was still warm, with a liquid dark chocolate center that married nicely with the sweet Earl Grey syrup. Some nice complimentary handcrafted chocolates completed the meal.
Service was fine although I did find it a little annoying that I was only told of the addition to the menu (“Venison,”I was succintly informed) after I made a point of asking, and only after my wife had ordered her meal. The decor is stark and clean, the wood and frosted glass entranceway reminiscent of my old high school principal’s office.
As we were leaving, we popped in next door to make a reservation for Sunday night. Sadly, the gang at Fuel were dealing with a mini-crisis: a power outage that had pretty much shut down their kitchen. Fortunately, their computer systems were still online and we were able to book a table for this weekend, presuming they would have their electricity restored by then.
By the way, if you can get your hands on either show, check out this past Thursday’s episodes of Earl and The Office. Earl offered the best exchange of the night, if not the entire season so far, when our hero rolls up in a stolen police car, stirring a lustful Joy.
Joy: Earl Hickey, I’m gonna BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! your BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! and BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! the BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!
At which point Earl silences her with a finger to her lips and suavely informs her: “You had me at balls.”