Kitsilano’s newish hotspot Oakwood Canadian Bistro received a visit from Globe and Mail restaurant critic Alexandra Gill, who was generous with praise for what she considered Canadian fare done right.
Gill pointed out that Canadian cuisine is a rare but growing dining option with Edible Canada, the Flying Pig Canadian Bistro and Oakwood Canadian Bistro all opening in the last year. Here are some juicy excerpts from the seasoned restaurant critic’s review:
On the poutine:
“If ever there existed a more delicious “beer sponge” (as food writer Calvin Trillin describes it in The New Yorker magazine), I certainly haven’t tasted it. Served in a cast-iron skillet, the Oakwood’s version starts with a thickly hand-cut Kennebec potatoes fried to a golden crunch. Richly roasted veal-bone gravy is poured over top, and chunky Quebec cheese curds layered throughout.
The skillet is given a quick blast of heat to melt down the cheese’s stringy texture while retaining a slight rubbery firmness and faint squeak. Then it’s crowned with a warm, pink clump of thinly sliced beef brisket, smoked in-house over maple and hickory chips. O Canada! This is true poutine bliss.”
On Canadian cusine:
“But what makes a restaurant “Canadian”? If it’s a combination of polite service, laidback atmosphere and creative comfort fare cooked from scratch with seasonal, homegrown ingredients, the Oakwood’s got it nailed down tight.”
On Chef Robbins and the food:
“Mr. Robbins doesn’t cut corners. He and his kitchen team make all their own pickles, pasta, ketchup and mayonnaise. They bake their own bread and cure their own meats. It’s honest, “raw” cooking, as the chef puts it. Finessed with serious skill, I would add.
You can see the wide range of techniques that go into octopus chips. Standing on edge in plump bacon aioli sprinkled with pickled shallots and mustard spinach, the rounds are cut thick enough to chew, but braised long enough that they still melt in the mouth after being lightly battered and barely browned.
You’ll taste the craftsmanship in a warm kale salad, which takes all the vegetables most people hate – kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks – and folds them into addictive lusciousness, perfectly rounded with sweetly sautéed shallots and a sharply acidic parsley vinaigrette. And you may be pleasantly surprised to find some rather unusual items, like the gorgeously tender (yet not falling-apart) braised Alberta boar with baby squash.”
Read the rest here.
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro, 2741 West 4th, 604-558-1965, TheOakwood.ca
Last modified: March 28, 2012