Terroir Kitchen had fallen off our radar. That was a mistake. A return for brunch in August quickly reminded of the satisfactory food and service enjoyed shortly after Chef Faizal Kassam reopened the space where La Regalade once flourished under Alain and Brigitte Rayé.
A North Vancouver native, Kassam began as a dishwasher at La Regalade. Afterward, he was a rising star in Vancouver’s better restaurants, including David Hawksworth’s flagship at Hotel Georgia. Before Terroir Kitchen, Kassam was executive chef at Cibo Trattoria and Uva Wine Bar.
The chef describes his cuisine as sustainable, local and organic. He styles it after rustic fare of Southern Europe. Freshness and regionality are key. Terroir Kitchen’s menu reflects that commitment and Vancouver Magazine found execution was superb. In 2018, that respected observer of BC’s fine dining places, rated Terroir Kitchen as best on the North Shore.
La Regalade felt cramped and Kassam solved that by removing almost half the seats. Today’s more comfortable space feels right.
A carefully conceived drinks menu showed nearly 20 wines available by the glass. Gwen was thinking of a Spanish Verdejo or an unoaked Chardonnay from Burgundy, but our enthusiastic server suggested another. He quickly followed with a tasting-size sample.
My food choice was French Toast, a dish that does not normally attract my attention. It was a thick cut slice of panettone infused with egg. What elevated the dish was the sauce flavoured by marsala, orange, raisins and wine-soaked berries. Bourbon-maple crème fraiche and toasted hazelnuts added luxurious touches. A simple but creative masterpiece.
Gwen, a confirmed admirer of what our parents knew as black cod, had to have sablefish in a potato-chive pancake, topped with poached eggs and accompanied by a delicious apple and fennel salad. Like my French Toast, the pancake came with bourbon-maple crème fraiche.
For no apparent reason, Chef Kassam sent us a complimentary plate of seasonal fruits. While I thought the season was over, this small plate included plump cherries that were better than any I have seen this year.
To finish this extravagant lunch, we shared chocolate pave, served with crisp feulletine, hazelnuts and crème fraiche, flavoured this time with aperol, an Italian herbal-based aperitif. With freshly made coffee, dessert was a tasty treat.
The bill for this quality food was under $50 before drinks and tip, an amount not unlike what we pay at less distinguished chain operations that Vancouver diners patronize regularly. Many of us hunger for the familiar, not the innovative.
Terroir Kitchen enjoys critical acclaim and diners offer much praise on social media. We intend to return soon for the dinner menu.