About a dozen years ago, Raincity Grill ranked high on any list of favourite dining spots in Vancouver. It was part of the Harry Kambolis group, which also included C and Nu. Kambolis was one of Vancouver’s most successful restaurateurs, until he was not.
In successful times, the group’s best known executive chefs were C’s Robert Clark and Raincity’s Andrea Carlson. They were trendsetters who featured BC wines, sustainable seafood and ethically grown meats and seasonal produce from small BC farms.
One of Carlson’s predecessors at Raincity was Scott Kidd, now owner of Canyon in Edgemont Village, where he remains committed to local food sources.
Chef Andrea Carlson moved on to Bishop’s, a place routinely rated among the best restaurants in BC. After six years, Carlson opened Burdock & Co in 2013. The small room at Main Street and 11th Avenue was quickly tagged one of Vancouver’s best new restaurants. In this less formal atmosphere, Chef Carlson’s commitment to unique food and wines was unchanged..
Globe and Mail reviewer Alexandra Gill called Burdock & Co. the quintessential Vancouver restaurant, writing, “It’s not so much a reflection of what we are right now, but more a beacon of where we should be headed.”
The wine list is carefully selected but largely European.We chose Matassa Marguerite, an unfiltered wine, two-thirds Muscat and one-third Macabeu, from old French vines grown between the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrénées mountains, about 25 miles north of the Spanish border in Le Côtes Catalanes. It was a boldly aromatic hit.
Our family style sharing menu started with a delicious chicken liver pâté, topped with locally grown concord grapes and quince, with whole grain crackers.
The rich paste was followed by house-made sourdough bread, lightly grilled and served with cultured butter.
Next came buttermilk chicken, probably the restaurant’s best known menu item.
Crispy, boneless chicken morsels, dusted with dill powder, are served on the chef’s mayonnaise, an interesting emulsion mixed with finely diced pickles and potato.
A dish of roasted radishes was served with Koji, a Japanese seasoning mold, fermented radish tops and nori, a dried seaweed that someone called the Doritos of the Far East.
This dish was interesting, creative and flavorful. Yet, I’d pass on it a second time. I enjoy the pungent snap of fresh radishes but roasting mellows them to be more like bland turnips. To my taste, the radishes wholly depended on accompaniments.
Roasted Napa cabbage was the last savoury dish. Cabbage is a vegetable of different varieties that welcomes numerous methods of cooking. My current favourite is chopped green cabbage braised in chicken stock with shallots, garlic and butter, with caraway or celery seeds, if they’re handy.
With coffee came a dark chocolate pot de crème, topped with sweetened cream and edible flowers.
Our photos don’t do the serving dishes justice but they are elegant creations of Vancouver based potter Janaki Larsen of Atelier St. George. Her work is superb.
The menu of Burdock & Co changes regularly but one thing that does not is the service. Gwen and I hadn’t been there for a while but a server greeted us immediately, saying she was happy we had returned after a number of months.
Maybe she has a spectacular memory allowing recall of customer detail from seven months ago, or maybe the reservation system offers up that sort of detail. Regardless, the art of customer service is to make people feel welcome. She did that.
The family style sharing menu was $65 per per person, drinks, taxes and tip extra.