Last night, Akemi and I met up with Simon and Sean for dinner at a restaurant I’ve been eager to check out for quite some time: Wildebeest.  According to the restaurant’s website, its focus is on “Meat-centric, off-cut farmhouse fare simply prepared with immaculate ingredients and thoughtful creativity”, reminiscent of L.A.’s Animal and Toronto’s Black Hoof, two other places I’ve been dying to try.

Because of the recent snowfall Vancouver’s inept drivers we gave ourselves plenty of time, leaving the house one full hour ahead of our 6:00 p.m. reservation and arriving fifteen minutes early.  Surprisingly, Simon also erred the side of caution and showed up at the same time. Sean, unfortunately, ended up stuck in traffic and didn’t get there until 6:30 – so we went ahead and made the executive dinner decisions.

To be honest, I wanted to try pretty much everything on the menu.  As Akemi put it, it would have been far simpler to just tell our waiter what we DIDN’T want from the listed items.  In the end, we decided to go with a few starters, a few mains, and a few sides.  This is how our meal broke down:

Pork schnitzel with Wildebeest mustard

The pork was perfectly prepared, crisp and succulent, and the Wildebeest mustard (honey dijon) made for a great dipping accompaniment.  Simon, however, wasn’t totally sold on the coating.

Bacon-wrapped country pate with pistachio, seasonal jam, and pickled vegetables.

Wonderfully rustic, studded with pistachio and hazelnuts.  Akemi, with a taste for the slightly sour, polished off the pickled veggies.

Popcorn chicken hearts, crispy shallot dust, caper relish.

One of the more intriguing plates of the night.  I liked it but didn’t love it.  Hearts are tricky at the best of times, predisposed to being a little tough, and deep-frying them renders them that much chewier.

Grilled beef tongue, wild mushroom consomme, toasted grains, mustard greens.

While Akemi prefers her tongue crispier and thinly sliced, Simon and I marveled over its mouth-meltingly tender texture here.  The broth was outstanding.

Roasted sweetbreads, caramelized buttermilk, wild mushrooms, porcini vinaigrette.

I’ll got ahead and call this my favorite dish of the night.  A nice contrast of tastes and textures – crisp, tender, sweet and savory. Probably the best preparation of the sweetbreads I’ve ever had.

Pork jowl, long pepper-scented oats, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup.

I know you’d think I’d be a belly guy but, in truth, my favorite part of the pig is the jowl (with the temple coming in a close second).  You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more tender cut and Wildebeest’s take does it full justice.

Sunchokes and brussel sprouts.

An addition to the regular menu.  I liked the preparation but found the sunchokes underdone.

Slow-cooked natural Angus beef short rib, smoked salt, hay-infused jus.

Heavily marbled but deliciously smokey.

Poutine, roasted foie gras.

I’m used to the Au Pied de Cochon version which is a lot heavier on the foie, but this one was a consensus winner – surprisingly, less so for the foie than for the crunchy yet meaty golden fries.

Foie gras torchon, Earl Grey tea, orange blossom bread.

This one was a late addition.  As much as I enjoy a good pate or a pan-seared preparation, nothing beats a good torchon.  And Wildebeest does a damn good one.

We decided to run the table on dessert, ordering all four on the menu…

Pink Lady apple sorbet, vanilla grapefruit creme anglaise, granola, 63C egg yolk.

This was the dessert I was most looking forward to, less so for the fruit elements (of course) than for the inclusion of the 63 degree egg yolk. In the end, I didn’t love it – although Akemi did.

Cardamom & goat’s milk cheesecake, quince sorbet, crumble.

This one was the hands down winner.  The cheesecake is almost a foam – light, airy, very tasty.  I was not a fan of the quince sorbet, its fizzy tartness reminiscent for me of slightly turned apple juice, but Akemi loved it.

Single origin Malumi chocolate cake, tonka bean ice cream, candied beets.

I was dubious about the candied beets when I saw them on the menu and, quite honestly, in the end, they failed to convince me.  Still, they fell somewhere in between the tonka ice cream (great) and the cake itself (disappointingly dry).

Composed cheese – baked farmhouse brie, seasonal fruit jam, buttermilk ice cream.

Well, I’ll give them points for trying.  Brie with buttermilk ice cream? At first blush it sounds a little off-putting but, after giving it some thought, it sounds like it may work.  It didn’t for me.

The kitchen at work

A few minor quibbles with our savory courses but there were at least three or four standout dishes I would recommend to a friend or look forward to on my return visit.  The desserts, on the other hand, while interesting failed to impress.

The atmosphere is laid back; comfortably casual.  The service was terrific, friendly and informative.  And the price point was a surprise, roughly half what you’d expect to pay elsewhere for a similar meal in the city!

Overall, an excellent dinner.  I look forward to coming back to try that roasted bone marrow luge with almond butter and tomato jam.


This was a farewell feast for Simon who heads of to greener – and no doubt tastier – international culinary pastures.

Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit!

26 thoughts on “December 20, 2012: Your Handy Wildebeest Guide!

  1. Just wanted to wish you and Akemi Happy Holidays. Just looked through my closet because I was wondering how many of your daily blogs I’ve kept. I know, who keeps those right. Not like I’d need them to prove any points. I now wished I had kept them from the first time I followed. I have the last 356. Maybe I can make a book. lol Give the pups a lick for me!

  2. I read that post through quickly and totally thought you were going to be eating wildebeest. What, pork? Where’s the WILDEBEEST???????

  3. Interesting array of dishes Sounds like and looks like you enjoyed it. And it looks like you may have a white Christmas. The only white I will see i maybe the “white-ish” sand on the beach which I hope to visit as we return home for the holidays.

    Merry Christmas everyone, have a blessed and safe holiday!

  4. Aloha to Simon.

    Coolness, another restaurant to add to the list for a hoped for Vancouver visit.
    Couple things I would pass on, but some of the other stuff looked delish.

  5. I just finished making a Christmas batch of shortbread cookies along with the requisite sampling (for quality control purposes, of course). Every year, I make some to take in to the folks at work and now also for the staff and residents at my step-mom’s assisted living home. So now, after your post, I feel absolutely stuffed! Sounds like it was a great time.

  6. 1. Darn. I was all prepared to find out what wildebeest tastes like. 🙁

    2. “Akemi, with a taste for the slightly sour…” – Soooooo…THAT explains why she likes you. 😉

    3. I made yummy brussel sprouts the other night. Sauteed in olive oil (then lightly steamed to ensure tenderness), with fresh garlic and a bit of butter added right at the end. Delicious!

    Speaking of brussel sprouts, hubby helped out our local farm market the other day, and they not only paid him, but sent him home with a big bag of brussel sprouts, and a head each of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. We’re gonna be eating good all week! Just don’t stand downwind of us…or light any matches in our general vicinity. 😛


  7. Awwww. No pictures of Sean and Simon. Good luck Simon with your international culinary pastures. 🙂

  8. Speaking of pickled foods, I am slightly addicted to giardiniera, especially the hot variety. I think I have three jars of the stuff in my pantry as I type this. I go easy with it because of the salt content, but to tell the truth I’d rather eat a whole jar of the stuff than a slice of chocolate cake. As I’ve gotten older, my salty tart tongue has grown stronger than my sweet tooth. 😉


  9. Brussels . . . Brussels . . . damnit it’s Brussels sprouts! 🙂 As in the region and city in Belgium. Sorry, sometimes my pedantry gets the better of me. 😉

    Looks like some nice food although I was expecting some more off-cut stuff. I had to look up what a Foie gras torchon is (and how to make one). A bit disappointed we didn’t find out what wildebeest tastes like. I had a water buffalo burger the other day. Meh. Tough, stringy meat with a soggy bun.

  10. You had me at poutine with roasted foie gras…

    das: try roasting those brussels sprouts with olive oil and smashed garlic in a 400* oven for…until they’re done. Just a little brown. Stirring frequently. The little leaves that fall off get crispy like potato chips. Fantastic!

    Merry Xmas everyone!

  11. I wish Simon much luck in his new career path.

    The food looks good but then I read the descriptions. Not my kind of food but I’m glad you all had fun! Rustic fits some of the descriptions. Hog’s jowl was a favorite of my dad’s. When he cooked it, it looked like a fatty bacon though. Tomato jam was something my mom’s family made a lot (my mom does a sugar free version for herself now). My mom said it was a way to preserve the tomatoes and it was cheap/plentiful. When my grandmother ran out of food for her seven kids, she would make tomato “gravy” to pour over biscuits.

    I’ve always wanted to try buttermilk ice cream. I saw a recipe for peach buttermilk ice cream and that sounds good too.

    Have a great day!

  12. So, what would be a strategy to get the ghost or descendants of UPN to release Legend the TV Series on DVD? I wasn’t going to bother you unless I got into populist meme campaign mode on it, but I noticed there’s a character named Bartok on the show and I suspect you have connections.

    I really need to watch a science fiction western comedy series. I just almost finished a tile project and that’s the only sensible way to reward myself. Heck, throw RDA and John de Lancie and some Edison-bashing into the series and I might even seal the rest of the grout.

  13. @das: “I am slightly addicted to giardiniera” – I first read that as “giardia”. That wouldn’t be a good addiction!

  14. G’day Joe

    Well it is 0810 here in Eastern Australian Daylight Savings Time, on December 22 2012. I am ALIVE!!!!!!!!!! No end of the world, no zombie invasion, no Goa’uld invasion, no new big bang or whatever was being predicted.

  15. Apocalypse Update:’s started …the end has begun!

    ..oh wait, never mind, I just saw a blue tardis streak across the sky, the doctor is on it!

  16. Good luck, Simon!

    Joe, the pork jowl looked good, and the idea of baked brie and buttermilk ice cream made me hungry. (Even though I’m supposed to avoid cheese. Hard for a gal born in the dairy state.)

    Locally, they charged the home-owner, her boyfriend, and his brother in the massive gas explosion that took two lives and demolished or damaged 30 homes. It was an insurance scam to cover gambling debts. The area looked like a bomb had gone off. This morning the neighbors were hugging in the streets, glad those responsible were charged and in jail. People said they felt like it was a Christmas present.

    Recently, in one week, I lost two dear friends suddenly, one to cancer and the other to loneliness and pain. It’s been heart-breaking. The holidays are tough for so many. If anyone has been on your mind for a while, try to reach out to them. You just never know. A little kindness can change everything.

    Just finished the annual cookie-palooza, and now have a tin full of decorated sugar cookies. Played Christmas music and listened to old movies. And we got our first good snow last night. It really feels like Christmas.

    Hey Joe, does the blog forecast call for more snow? 🙂 Are you and Akemi flying to Montreal this year? Say hi to Sis and Mom for us.

    Deni, sending prayers for Lauren and your grand-baby to-be!

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  17. @ gforce – Oh my, THAT would be bad! 😛

    @ JimFromJersey – That sounds yummy! Brussels chips. 🙂 😉

    @ Joey – Looking for some HOT chocolate? Well, I just had some of this, and it is most definitely HOT!:

    Off to watch some Brit mysteries, or rugby, or just take a nap so I can sit up until 2 am, reading. 🙂


  18. The day in winding down and I’m still here! Everyone else, I presume. I survived the apocalypse! 😀

  19. So to celebrate the non-apocalypse, my son and I are watching “2012” and cheering when the earthquakes swallow economy cars. At least it makes it interesting 😉

  20. The only thing with the word “quince” that I have ever consumed is The Republic of Tea Raspberry Quince Tea. It is one of my favorites.

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