I’ve now lived in Vancouver for a number of years, and one thing I’ve learned in becoming a Vancouverite is that you have to lower your expectations as soon as the rain hits.
If you wake up one bleak and grey winter morning, and find out that it’s not raining? That’s a good day. Don’t get your hopes up.
Quite frankly, I think that line of reasoning is somewhat apt for restaurants I’ve heard too much buzz about.
I have a running “to-eat” list that continually gets updated, and West is one of the earliest additions to that list that has never yet been crossed off.
In a sudden stroke of spontaneity (and the desire to put an actual bucket list item to action), the reservation was made, and the anticipation of eating at West grew.
We began our epicurean adventure with an assortment of rolls, accompanied by very fruity olive oil for dipping and a luscious dome of deliciously salty and silky butter.
A complimentary amuse-bouche of chickpeas on pita was brought to us as well.
Cocktails were initially the reason that brought us here. From left to right: Aviation circa 1916, Boston Derby, Old Fashioned.
There was a very interesting list of creative cocktails, but I think the ones we ordered all generally fell short of expectations. They were drinkable, but nothing special.
I started with the scallops, which were seared nicely with a savory accompaniment of wild mushrooms and textured banyul brown butter sauce. The texture was a slightly crispy, salty crumble, and paired well as a complementary mouthfeel to the scallops. These were quite enjoyable.
My friend ordered the Dungeness Crab Salad which also seemed to suffer from the same plating mishap as my appetizer.
I’m not some sort of plating genius, but when your food looks like it rolled over to the edge of the plate because the server almost fell over, it gives the feeling of inevitable doom for your food when it’s perched precariously on the cliffside of the edge of your plate. I personally feel like it’s comforting to have your food nestled safely within the confines of the center of a plate before you make a move with your utensils, no? I’d just rather not see my plate of food as one of those puzzle cubes where you’re supposed to maneuver a tiny ball around.
I had the sablefish with cherry vinaigrette. For sablefish, this was alright I suppose; for sablefish that was done at West, it fell short of expectations. It was a bit pedestrian, nothing particularly exciting. I felt that it lacked the buttery silkiness that is expected of sablefish, and it lacked a je-ne-sais-quoi in the flavor department.
With my dinner companions, I shared a dark chocolate marquise with peppermint ice cream. The peppermint ice cream wasn’t joking around: they were saturated, dense frost balls of pure peppermint. None of us felt the ice cream was that appealing after a few spoonfuls.
We also shared a pumpkin flan with spiced cake, caramelized pear and orange chiffon. Again with the odd physics of plating: don’t you feel like the cake is stepping on the flan? All this presentation was almost Kubrick-esque, it made me so weirdly uncomfortable. This dessert was also not awe-inducing - in theory it seemed like it would be a great combination and yet I felt like my tastebuds were muted eating this. It didn’t call my attention to any part of it in particular. It was sadly a very rote dessert.
If this seemed overall like a more negative post, I didn’t mean it to come out as such. I just think that with the level of buzz I’ve heard and at least one or two personal recommendations, I expected a lot more out of this visit than I got.
To be frank, I can’t quite really quite applaud anything I had in this visit and I feel like it was a loss on my part. Perhaps I just coincidentally was not able to replicate someone else’s positive experience that one night, or perhaps it just really is not as overwhelmingly great as some other places that would roll off my tongue. It was disappointing, and I didn’t really feel I got my money’s worth. If you have an overwhelmingly amazing experience at West, then I’d love to hear about it, but I certainly won’t be footing another bill of that calibre just to test the waters for a second time.