The other night, I went to Gastropod, the winner of the 18th Annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Award for Best New Fine Dining. It also made a strong showing in Urban Diner’s Worst Restaurant Name poll (in this case, yielding the prize to the far more deserving Whineo’s). And, I dare suspect, that if they were ever going to award a prize for Unhappiest-Looking Wait Staff, Gastropod would surely make a strong showing as well. Not that the service was bad on the evening we went. It was polite and fairly prompt – but disquietingly reserved, as if the entire staff was in mourning. Far be it for me to go in expecting the animated affability of a Claude from Chow’s or a Daniel from Quattro or a Dragon from Tojo‘s, or the homey warmth of a Bistrot Bistro or a Long’s Noodle House, or even the amiable hospitality of a Fuel, Don Francesco, Yuji’s, or Caffe de Medici. Still, the occasional smile would probably go a long way toward ensuring repeat business – although, from the looks of things that night, they were doing quite well, thank you very much.
It was 6:00 p.m. and the place was packed. As we settled in, we were informed of the changes to the menu. The frog legs beignet and beef cheeks were out. The salmon tartar and sautéed sweetbread and barley were in. I ordered the sweetbread addition while Robert Cooper went with the foie gras. I also ordered the “silver fish and congee” for the table. Our wives, meanwhile, elected to start with the mixed organic green salads – which they enjoyed. At most any other restaurant, we’d have been sampling one another’s appetizers but given Gastropod’s anemic portions, it wasn’t something we did on this night. I had the sweetbread all to myself – two excellent albeit tiny morsels of the golden sweetbread sitting atop a bed of barley, flanked by a partial romaine leaf. The congee was also very good, served with a pineapple mayo and crowned with crispy silver fish that lent the dish a wonderful contrast in both texture and flavor – crisp and creamy, sweet and salty. Unfortunately, because of the size and curvature of the bowls in which the appies had been served, accessing the last few portions of rice and barley proved all but impossible given the fork I was working with. Eventually, I admitted defeat and set my cutlery down. My knife slid off the bowl and clattered noisily onto the table.
For my main, I went with the Salmon Gastropod – two gorgeous pieces of nori-wrapped salmon, cooked medium-rare, served with a not-too spicy wasabi sabayon, some wonderfully flavorful pea shoots, and a warm citrus bulgar salad that proved all too tart on this visit. Everyone else adored their choices: Rob, his venison sous-vide served with raspberry ketchup and shitake mushroom, Fondy, her tender duck sous-vide accompanied by house made pasta au jus, oyster mushrooms, and broccoli rabe.
For dessert, Rob and his wife decided to get separate orders of the Gastropod Cheesecake rather than share one between the two of them. And they were glad they did. The cheesecake was that good; the serving that small. Fondy loved her chocolate pancetta a la Toblerone which was served with lemon thyme ice milk. Finally, my chocolate fondant with its dark chocolate liquid center, served atop a pool of Earl Grey syrup, proved a divinely decadent three forkfuls.
Overall, an excellent meal, nary a misstep in the some twelve dishes we were served. Fondy’s duck sous-vide was all she could talk about as we hopped in the car and headed over to Steeps for a second dessert. In retrospect, I suppose one of the nice things about going to Gastropod is that you’ll never leave feeling over-stuffed.
What’s on your minds?
Anonymous #1 writes: “Are we going to see any McKay/Katie moments in Season 4?”
Allison writes: “Can David Nykl really kick your butt at chess or are you the poker/Parcheesi sort?”
Answer: I’m really more of a Clue/Monopoly guy.
Chris writes: “What is your favorite dessert?”
Answer: I’m also a sticky toffee pudding guy.
Zabadoo writes: “1.)Any groundbreaking battles in the future? 2.)Do you know if there will be a lot of shoot ’em up in Ark or Contiuum or the fourth season of Atlantis?
Answer: 1) As a matter of fact, we’re in the process of talking to the visual effects department about one particularly groundbreaking battle sequence. So, yes. 2) Some shoot ‘em up in both eppies.
Amy writes: “What do you think, dessert first or keep it at the end?”
Answer: How about both?
Bluemoon 927 a ecrit: “Qu’en pensez vous ? Ce sont vraiment des plats que l’on pourrait manger au Québec ?”
Answer: Il me semble que oui, ce sont des plats typiquement Quebecois.
Phibi writes: “Was it because the story wouldn’t have fit in the storylines for the second half of season 4 so far, or because of schedule conflicts with Paul?”
Answer: The former, not the latter.
Flying Fig writes: “How long does it take a writer, from beginning to end, to pem an SGA script?”
Answer: It depends. From concept to shooting draft, it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month.
Cheek Lil Devil writes: “When you pen a script who decides on the title?”
Answer: Either the writer will come up with a title for his episode or we’ll trawl the writers’ room for suggestions. Cooler heads usually prevail. I’m still bitter I never got to name one of my SG-1 scripts Fool’s Goa’uld.
Carolina writes: “So if you had a restaurant, what type of food would you serve?”
Answer: Probably Italian.