Over on 4th, in the spot once occupied by one of my favorite Vancouver restaurants, Refuel (and my absolute favorite Vancouver restaurant, Fuel, before that), a new restaurant has opened its doors. Almost.  The official opening is apparently a couple of weeks off, but lunches and dinners are being served as part of Fable’s soft opening.  Given my disdain for waiting, I decided to go ahead and check it out last night, ever-mindful that the place was probablyy still in the process of working out a few kinks.  Sure enough, there were a few hiccups over the course of our meal but, overall, Fable shows great promise.

The restaurant is the brainchild of Trevor Bird, one of the three remaining chefs competing in this season’s Top Chef Canada finale.  Its farm to table concept (Farm + Table = Fable.  Get it?) is reflected in a menu highlighting local, seasonal ingredients.  Joining Trevor in kitchen is fellow Top Chef competitor Curtis Luk, the master of the macaron, an avowed Stargate fan who dropped by this blog last month to set the record straight (April 22, 2012: Beta 5! A Top Chef contestant checks in! Switching over from horror to mini-series mode!).

May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Come on in!  It’s (almost officially) open!

The room has been transformed but there are still recognizable elements that made me nostalgic for Refuel.  The wait and kitchen staff, however, are all new.

May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!

We walked in and were promptly greeted by Trevor who was overseeing the action (and, on this night, the kitchen would see a lot of it).  After perusing the menu, we elected to leave our respective foodie fates in the hands of the head chef by going with the seven course Chef’s Tasting Menu.  Trevor swung by the table to discuss any food issues we might have  (allergies, vegetarianism, and other similar illnesses).  We informed him he had carte blanche – with one request. We had to try Curtis’s famed macarons for dessert.

Our server was pleasant and informative, checking in on us throughout the meal without being intrusive.  That said, there were a couple of – well, I hesitate to call them snafus.  They were more odd choices. For instance, we ordered bottle water for the table and received two – one for each of us.

May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Hope you’re thirsty!

Ultimately, not a big deal because Akemi and I like to stay hydrated through our dinners, but certainly unexpected.

On to the meal:

May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Local and sustainable Sawmill Bay oysters with citrus and vodka mignonette.  Akemi is a huge fan of oysters and loved this little bite.  They’re tiny so, next time, we might consider starting with a dozen. 
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Chickpea fritters with curry mayo, pickled red onions and pea shoots.  The combination of the ingredients really made this dish.  The pickled red onions were a genius element.
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Canned Tuna.  No, really.  The tuna is poached, then served up – canned – with a pinch of maldon salt and toast.  Sprinkle the salt on top of the tuna, mix, and – bon appetit.  Actually, it was better then bon.  It was one of the best dishes of the night.  As someone who has always considered cooked tuna inferior to raw, I was pleasantly surprised.  Very tasty with a texture akin to a fine pate.
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Akemi goes wild over the canned tuna.
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Crispy chorizo-topped halibut on clam chowder.  This one had a nice smoky kick compliments of the chorizo, and the halibut (my least favorite fish) was moist and perfectly prepared.  
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Pemberton Farms flat iron steak with brocollini, potato fondant, and black pepper jam.  I’m not a big fan of the flat iron cut, preferring the marbling of a good ribeye, but this admittedly tender meat was greatly elevated by the sweet and spicy black pepper jam that accompanied it.  Wow.  That jam was another highlight of the night.  The potato fondant was overseasoned, a little too salty, but that didn’t stop Akemi from finishing mine.   

I asked the waiter about dessert and he told me we would be having the bread pudding along with the macarons (as per our request).  After confirming that we would be served two dishes (a bread pudding and a macaron plate), I went ahead and ordered two extra desserts I’d been eyeing: the lemon pot de creme and the flourless chocolate cake. Moments later, our next course arrived: TWO servings of bread puddings.  Fortunately, I’m a professional when it comes to eating desserts…

May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
The bread pudding with vanilla and rhubarb ice cream.  The bread pudding was unlike any bread pudding I’ve tried before, both in presentation and taste.  It was actually very good!  The rhubarb component offered a tart contrast to the sweetness of the pudding – if you like that sort of thing.  
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
The lemon pot de creme was excellent.  I was kind of hoping Akemi would have been full by this point, but she had no trouble polishing it off.  Betsu bara as they say in Japan.
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
The flourless chocolate cake with rhubarb cream.  The only misstep of the night.  I was looking forward to the rich denseness of a true flourless cake but was disappointed by the   alternating layers of white chocolate ganache that reminded me of a buttercream birthday cake. 
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
And the macarons: lime on the left and dulce de leche on the right.  The former was a little chewy and could have used some tarting up with more of a lime kick but the latter was perfect in flavor and texture.
May 30, 2012: Checking Out The New Kid On The Block – Fable Restaurant!
Akemi and her macaron-burger.

As I said, Fable is still a week or two away from its official opening so I’m sure that it’s still in the process of testing, refining, and perfecting. If I was in charge of fine-tuning, I’d double-check the seasoning, swap out the flat iron cut for a sexier cut, lose that white chocolate ganache and, in the unfortunate event one of my servers broke a glass, I’d make sure he apologized to the neighboring table (not us on this night).

Overall though, this restaurant holds a lot of promise.  I look forward to checking out its lunch offerings sometime next week.  After Trevor, no doubt, wins the Top Chef title.

31 thoughts on “May 30, 2012: Checking out the new kid on the block – Fable Restaurant!

  1. Coolness! Don’t know if the size of the macarons are real or just magnified, but yum.

    HEY…JEFF W….here’s a place for your Van visit foodie tour – oops, I mean work related travel. LOL.
    Jealous – would love to visit this place.
    Now to make a note of it…just in case.

  2. Wow, everything (I could drink that water bottle) looks delicious! Now you’ve made me very hungry. I’ll have to go fix me a piece of toast. 🙁 Looks like you have found a new home. 🙂

    You should own a restaurant! Do it!

  3. Mmmmm! This is one of the few meals you’ve had where I think I could have eaten just about everything (save the seafood since I’m not a fan, but at least it was normal seafood, and not sperm and stuff 😉 ).

    Speaking of meals, and sperm…

    Joe, about that Japanese guy and the bullet you and Ivon dodged back in Tokyo. Just a question – as a foodie, would you? I mean, would you eat a legally obtained and certified disease-free human body part in a land with no laws against cannibalism, just to say you tried it? Or is the idea totally repulsive to you? You don’t have to answer publically if you think it’ll taint your image. 😉

    das

  4. @sylvia:

    HEY…JEFF W….here’s a place for your Van visit foodie tour

    Funny…I was thinking exactly that 😀

    I booked L’Abattoir for Friday…so all set there (by the way, Joe, thanks for the recommendation…I’m looking forward to trying them in two weeks). That still leaves Wednesday or Thursday night to try Fable (unless my customer has plans to take me somewhere else). But the way Joe describes it, I’m not sure I’d have the clout to get in.

    And Sylvia, the “Farm+Table” concept reminded me of 1776’s 100-Mile Dinners (where everything is grown and supplied within 100 miles of the restaurant). I’d still like to try that sometime…I need to check their dates for the next dinner.

    I also looked for places for macarons in Gastown, but I’m not really sure what place would be the best (Joe, if you’re so inclined perhaps you could also recommend a macaron place in Gastown?) If not, I’ll see what I can come up with.

    Wherever I go, I’ll be sure to bring back a full report (and pictures 🙂 ) for the Japanese Tea/Chicagoland Sweet run on the 20th. See you all then!

  5. Das – I may be adventurous, but I’m not insane.

    JeffW – You won’t find macarons in Gastown. The closest place would be Bel Cafe on West Georgia. How are you enjoying Van? How long you in town for?

  6. Customer service is the face of any business. It can be so hard to find. Just like macarons. >_< I only know one place in this town that sells them – and they're always chewy, so I always thought they were meant to be chewy. I guess not?

  7. Hi BaronDestructo!

    I’ll be arriving in “Van” in the early afternoon on Wednesday June 13th and leaving early on Saturday (the 16th). My Thursday and Friday is taken up with customer meetings during the day, but I’m free in the evenings and I’m planning on trying as many of the restaurants as I can. Message me if you’d like to join me on “the Van tour”.

  8. So, much good food I don’t know where to start. The halibut and flourless chocolate cake would be on my to eat list.

    On another subject, I wanted to comment about Stargate Atlantis just a bit. I got the entire series on blu for my birthday and I’m on my 2nd run-through of the series. It looks incredible, but what really impresses me are the battle scenes. The fighting over Atlantis during The Seige episodes are incredible. I love the epic-ness of them with the intense background music and special effects. It’s larger than life. There aren’t these kinds of sci-fi battle scenes hardly anywhere. Star Wars has them a few times. Rarely do we see such incredible looking battle scenes in space. I gotta admit, I really miss that and it’s sad that we don’t get this much anywhere.

    Do you look back, Joe? Do you look at SGA or SG-1 and say nobody did that like us or we did a hell of a thing? Do you miss it? Will Stargate ever come back, you think?

    Anyway, I do miss it and I love rewatching the show. You all did great work.

  9. @ JeffW – for the 1776 100 mile dinners…yes, that’s right. Forgot about that.
    Yeah…I’m IN! Sounds like a plan.

  10. Joe, look for another email from baterista9, please.

    JeffW: Husband & I are still visiting Vancouver. We enjoyed a sunset dinner cruise las night. The vessel sails from Coal Harbor, just southeast of Stanley Park, travels counterclockwise around Stanley Park Peninsula through Burrard Inlet and English Bay, up False Creek past Granville Island, then returns by the same route.

    The cruise buffet was satisfying but not adventurous: menu at bottom of linked page. Staff and musicians were hospitable and friendly.

    http://www.boatcruises.com/tour.php

    We visited with Vancouver resident and SG fan Beth B. this afternoon. Vancouverites, if you are looking for artwork or need to have something framed, Beth has just joined SmART Frames & Accents at Lougheed Town Centre, Burnaby. She tells me her location carries work by local artists; we may try to get there before we go home.

    http://www.lougheedtowncentre.com/store.asp?store=645

    Will visit Ruby Davis, Don’s widow, tomorrow (Thurs.) midday. We became acquainted through the con circuit several years ago.

    Anyone familiar with time-share properties in the Lower Mainland?

    Gilder

  11. Hey everyone!

    I don’t understand the appeal of oysters. It’s not like you eat them, you just swallow them. How can you enjoy the taste. Plus, the texture and look….eek!

    The rest looks lovely.

    So does everyone know it’s Patrick Gilmore’s birthday on Friday (tomorrow here in Australia)? What do you get for the guy who has everything? His very own Internet Meme! May I present Harrison Gilmore… on life & stuff. I’m matching appropriate photos of Patrick with quotes from his favourite actor Harrison Ford. Feel free to spread it around, make some if you’re feeling creative and upload over the ‘net. Thanks!!

    Cheers, Chev

  12. Oh, yum. Delightful, and I’m stuffed from just reading about the deliciousness of the evening.

    I have a new bread machine, my old one walked off the counter. New machine does horizontal loaves and has many settings, so we shall see if I can actually bake in it rather than having a very fancy dough mixer.

    @Gilder…. I’m a Worldmark by Wyndham owner, and know about UV in Mexico and have stayed at RCIs quite a bit. Worldmark is quite nice, mostly. A few of the properties are older, but I’ve always enjoyed my stays.

  13. Glad to hear that the site of your favorite Vancouver restaurant continues to offer a pleasant dining experience that (almost) meets your standards even though the name and staff and food keep changing!

  14. Joe, I agree with Ponytail. You should open a restaurant. I think it would be quite successful. Once more, you have made me hungry with your food pictures–especially the macarons. Wow! Those are huge. I’ll have to see if I can find some at our local bakery.

    Have a great day!!!!!!

  15. The food at Fable looks pretty fantastic! And hey, you’ll never have trouble finding the place.

  16. Joe those two elder pugs you’re trying to adopt aren’t getting any younger. What is the problem with that organization? They are starting to make me really mad!

  17. Yum! Even the less-than-perfect items look tasty. Good name for the restaurant.

    Any word on immigration papers, and where you guys will vacation?

  18. @lisa r

    Yeah lol, Joe could call his restuarant ‘Mallozzis’ has a good ring to it.

    That said, there’s plenty of time for him to do that, can imagine he wants to continue writing for a good few years yet.

    That said that’d be a good idea for him for when he retires.

  19. @sylvia:

    @ JeffW – for the 1776 100 mile dinners…yes, that’s right. Forgot about that.
    Yeah…I’m IN! Sounds like a plan.

    I checked into the 1776 dates for the “100 Mile Dinners” and it looks like the last two weekends of June. Unfortunately Barb and I are tied up those weekends, so I may have to call Scott and see if they’re planning anything for the fall. I’ll keep you all posted.

    @baterista9:

    The cruise buffet was satisfying but not adventurous: menu at bottom of linked page. Staff and musicians were hospitable and friendly.

    Thanks for the links. I’ll look into them but maybe for a later trip when my dear wife can join me. This trip is more of a “fly-in, spend some time with some customers and then fly out”, so a romantic cruise would probably be a little out of place. It’s definitely on file for a later trip, though…thanks!

    @Chev:

    @JeffW – Enjoy your stay! Hope you find the macarons.

    Thanks! Joe mentioned Bel Cafe and after pulling it up on Google Maps, I found it was within a couple of blocks of my hotel…so definitely a possibility. The foodie group here in Chicago was following my pics from Italy recently, so I’ll make sure to add Bel Cafe and put up links if anyone wants a peek.

  20. JeffW: have a fun and safe trip! Take pictures 😉

    The desserts look good to me. I’m like Chev, I don’t understand eating oysters. My libido is just fine without them.

  21. RE: Eating shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels, etc).

    I have a motto. I don’t eat snot, raw or cooked.

    das

  22. A question which I hope you’ll be able to get to in your next mailbag, Joe: how fleshed-out are series bibles typically before a series begins?

    I ask because of my Fringe experience. I came late to Fringe (having rejected the series after originally viewing the first episode and deciding that Walter Bishop was too annoying a character to want to follow). My loss. My son was clearly more discerning, and got me hooked back into it in the middle of the fourth season. So I’ve followed that to the end of the season, and wanted more.

    As a result, I recently bought the first three seasons on DVD and have spent the last week or so starting back at the beginning.

    What’s amazed me is just how many of the threads that have been coming to completion in Series Four were interwoven right from the earliest episodes, some specifically stated, others more subtly foreshadowed.

    Sure, Fringe is undoubtedly in very capable hands; and JJ Abrams and his co-creators are clearly at the top of their plotting game in this series. But is this typical? For example, SGU obviously had an overall story arc based around Destiny’s mission — but that wasn’t evident in the earliest episodes. Did that come later, or did you and the other members of the writing team simply choose not to show your hand too soon?

    And, in a related question, does a network being pitched a series like SGU or Fringe need details of the story arc and its eventual conclusion before giving the green light?

    Appreciate your comments.

  23. Hi Joe and everyone else!

    I found true macarons when I chaperoned the band trip to NYC. I loved it and understand why you’re so crazy about them. All the ones I’ve tried in my area weren’t really macarons. More like tiny flavored whoopie pies.

    The meal looks delicious, and I love the concept of the restaurant. Well, except for the oysters. About the only seafood I won’t eat.

    Today was last day of school so (fingers crossed), things should get a little less crazy than they’ve been, so hopefully will be able to post regularly again.

    Thanks to all who sent condolences for the passing of our sweet doggie. We miss her, but know it was best. And thanks for the well wishes for my daughter’s car accident. She’s fine and we’re getting repaid the full value of the car.

  24. Joe, Michael Carney had an interesting comment above about series “bibles”. Back in my day of watching TV, there was no continuation in shows like Bonanza or Gunsmoke, Starsky and Hutch, etc. An actor could play a bad guy in one episode then show up a year or more later playing an uncle or best friend in another. I’m like Annie Wilkes in Misery and think “no, no, that’s not right. You can’t do that!” I remember what happens and can’t deal with inconsistant chronology. I can’t think of any 70’s show that might have had a “bible”. Can you? Each week was basically anew again.

  25. @Tam Dixon and Chev:

    I promise…I’ll take pictures. In fact, I’ve already started. During a business trip to Europe at the beginning of May, I did a mini-foodie tour:

    Hempstead House, Bapchild, Canterbury:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55871901@N05/sets/72157629988070512/

    Cafe dez Amis, Canterbury:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55871901@N05/sets/72157629988554412/

    London and Tea and Tattle:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55871901@N05/sets/72157629988653206/

    Chabrot Bistro de Amis, Knightsbridge:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55871901@N05/sets/72157629988818460/

    Agrate/Vimercate and Acqua e Farina:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55871901@N05/sets/72157629988936428/

    Naples and Donna Margherta:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55871901@N05/sets/72157629989058444/

    They’re nowhere good as Joe’s write-ups, but the meals sure were fun!

  26. @Tam Dixon, Das, Chev, and Ava:

    I agree…oysters can be hard to acquire as a taste. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that included Chesapeake Bay watermen. The surplus catch usually ended up on the table for weekend meals (including the oysters). As a kid, I couldn’t handle the raw oysters, but I loved oyster stew (I’d give any oysters in the stew to my grandmother though). As I got older though, eating the raw oysters just sort of clicked.

    Maybe you can try oyster stew first (straining out the cooked oysters)…but I’ll warn you up front; the oyster cooking smell is strong. The taste of the stew is much more sublime. If you want to try it, this was the closest recipe I could find to what I grew up with:

    http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1648,140189-247197,00.html

  27. Thanks for checking us out and we appreciate the compliments and criticisms. Actually my mother pointed me out to your review because apparently she’s a lot better at looking for them than I am. I’m actually in the process of conceiving a new chocolate dessert so stay tuned.

    Apparently it’s also quite difficult to teach young cooks the art of aesthetics… I can plainly tell which desserts I had a hand in plating.

    Once again, thanks for coming and I hope you will come back to try our exciting changes

  28. Hey Curtis,

    Looking forward to checking out your lunch menu – and the new desserts. And, quite frankly, a couple of the old desserts as well.

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