(picture via Flickr Commons)
When Yaletown first started coalescing together as a neighbourhood in the 90′s, there was such a sense of civic excitement. Visions of Soho danced in everyone’s head – cool and urban, sophisticated yet gritty. Beautiful brick buildings being turned into soaring spaces. We would all have our own warehouse loft spaces!
Vancouver real estate realities soon began to extert themselves – and though neighbourhood stalwarts like the Hamilton Street Grill, Blue Water Cafe, and Cioppino’s still stand tall, there is an undercurrent of eratz porn star glitz at night. Even the Keg has opened a shiny Yaletown location – puffing itself up like a divorced dad on the make. Take a walk around at night sometime and you’ll see guys in from the suburbs, doing their best Ed Hardy Gansta strut, mistaking obnoxiousness for charm.
But perhaps the pendulum is swinging back the other way. The Opus Hotel’s dining room which started as the casually smart Elixir French Bistro, before veering into the graffiti pop up oddity of 100 Nights – has now been taken over by Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme from La Quercia.
La Pentola is a seriously ambitous undertaking, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a room that is bigger than La Quercia and La Ghianda combined. I’ve seen other restaurants do this, moving to new rooms only to have the food become bloated by ambition. Thankfully, La Pentola avoids this – they have managed to stay true to the philosophy of sophisticated rustic flavours prepared with simplicity and restraint – so that every ingredient comes through with fresh clarity.
Their vitello tonnato is genuinely one of my favorite dishes in the city – supple tenderness balanced against briny meaty tonnato mayonnaise and capers. All the more heartbreaking since it remains so difficult to snag a table at La Quercia. Now… now I can have it whenever I want. Such joy!
Wild chanterelles with bouyantly al dente linguine – fantastic. Perhaps this dish best exemplifies what I like about Chef Adam and Lucias’ cooking – beautiful ingredients, served confidently and simply. Lesser restaurants would obliterate this dish under a drift of parmesan instead of letting the meaty umami of the mushrooms speak for themselves.
The porchetta is awesomely luscious and tender – the fennel seed and salt much more subtle then what you find in Italy (where the level of salt almost cures the meat). Served with beautiful lettuce leaves, the perfect foil of green lightness.
Openings like La Pentlola certainly bode well for Yaletown – that it continues being a real living neighbourhood, where there is a range of excellent cooking and a lively selection of restaurants. Let’s hope this Real Housewives of Vancouver aspirational tottering is just a phase, and that it passes soon. However, I am still waiting for my warehouse loft and cool black motorcycle…
322 Davie Street, Vancouver
Canucklehead pays for all of his own food. This time, his disguise was “Lonely Man Celebrating Birthday On His Own”. Of course – this has no bearing on his real life. Really.