Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vancouver: Oakwood Canadian Bistro

with glowing hearts

I have been wanting to try the Oakwood since I moved to this city. No other restaurant got more word of mouth love than this gem. It's a down-to-earth bistro in the heart of Kits and it's serving some stellar food. 

Owner Mike Shea and Chef Michael Robbins have created a well-loved neighbourhood joint. It's a beautiful venue for friends and family to come together and share a meal, some laughs and warm conversation. All the staff who came to our table were polite and friendly. There's a genuine sense they believe in the food and are happy to be there. When staff feel that way, it naturally follows that everyone else who walks through the door will too. And they captured my heart at the door with a smile and the sign - loved it, loved the interior more.  The restaurant - from its name to its seating - is a nod to the reclaimed wood prevalent throughout. It's cozy and casual but neither homely nor boring. It's got character and understated elegance.

Eight ladies gathered last weekend for an epic meal in celebration of the one who irks me like nobody but I love like no other...the sister. It was her birthday and her Vancity girls came out to celebrate and eat. Feast we did. Everything was good and the prices were modest. 

When you order 80% of the menu, there will be some standouts, so let's start with our table's favourites (I missed some photos...I may or may not blame it on the vodka)...

Fried octopus, bacon ailoi, pickled shallots, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach):

My only complaint was there wasn't enough.
Flat iron steak, bone marrow barley, asparagus, chimmichurri ($22) - sinfully rich and delicious.

Warm kale salad, cauliflower, sprouts, lemon parmesan dressing, buttermilk onions:

All Canadian poutine with brisket:

Yes. Yes. Yes.

These next dishes were good, but not unanimous favourites...

House tagliatelle, zucchini, spinach, chanterelle mushrooms, parmigiano:

Simple and tasty; al dente and well-balanced
Beef tartar, egg yolk, mustard pea shoots, crackers:

I love runny yolks like I love shoes.
This final group had our table divided...

Beet salad in textures, goats cheese, arugula:

I found it off balance
Halibut cheeks, bacon lardon, chanterelle mushroom, lentils, crackling ($20) - I think I liked it more than others. But I love cheeks...except mine, they're cherub-ly fat.

Duck duo, breast and confit thigh rotolo, butternut squash, pickled fennel:
Too much fennel flavour
Seared tuna, ponzu, sesame snow, jicama:

I like ponzu and jicama. I don't really enjoy seared tuna and I'm on the fence about that sesame snow.

Salt Spring mussels, tomato coconut broth, cornbread biscotti:

It came too late, we were too full to enjoy but it had an enticing aroma and full bodied flavour.
Did we order the entire menu? Almost. I hear we missed one of Oakwood's most celebrated dishes - the burger but I'll be back.

We ended the night with two orders of the mason trios ($15):

Lemon meringue - laughter in a cup - sweet and sour
Custard and chocolate - kisses in a cup - creamy and lovely
Rustic apple - hugs in a cup - warm, tart and crisp

Mason jars. One of my most favourite things.
The Oakwood is a reminder that comfort food can be fabulous, memorable and easy on the wallet. It takes the right team to execute such a flawless vision - a truly Canadian restaurant for the Canadian people. It's worth a visit if you haven't been and it's worth repeating if you have.

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro on Urbanspoon

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