Taste of Yaletown is an annual festival featuring Yaletown restaurants offering special tastings, featured menus, and pairings. The fixed price menus won’t set you back in your budget with offerings at $25, $35, and $45 per person, and a portion of the proceeds from each meal served goes to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Since its inception, Taste of Yaletown has raised over $100,000.
Most menus offer a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert, such as the West Oak Restaurant. You have a choice of truffled cauliflower soup, burrata and prosciutto, tuna tartar, or roasted sablefish for an appetizer; roasted BC salmon, mushroom risotto, braised lamb shank, or seared duck breast for an entree; and for dessert, a slice of bitter chocolate flourless cake or lemon cheesecake. The price? A cool $35.
Others offer selections like Minami Restaurant, with a different menu in each price category. Minami doesn’t offer choices within each category, but does provide variance by offering a trio of appetizers (aburi sushi sampler, market citrus salad, and Brome Lake duck confit drumette), then a surf-and-turf entree (sake kasu saikyo miso-baked sablefish and a duo of Fraser Valley pork), and a mixed berry sake kasu bar.
A few of the restaurants participating include Bistro Sakana, Cactus Club, DD Mau, Hapa Izakaya, Milestones, Romer’s Burger Bar, Sushi Maro, Yaletown L’Antipasto, and Yaletown Brewing Company. With such a large selection of cuisines represented, taking advantage of such a deal couldn’t be easier. Whether you feel like Thai, burgers, Italian, or whatever tickles your fancy, you can find it with Taste of Yaletown.
I went to West Oak Restaurant and for $35, I made out like a bandit. I started with the tuna tartar, garnished with radish and cucumber in a soy and lemon vinaigrette, with chips made from fingerling potatoes. The tuna was nicely chilled, but still had that melt-in-your-mouth quality that only comes with good quality fish. The radish and cucumber were a nice, crisp contrast to the suppleness of the soy tuna, and the chips had a salty crunch that finished well.
The entree was one of the hardest decisions of my life. Duck or lamb? In the end, I cheated. I coaxed my dining companion into getting the lamb while I got the duck. I was not disappointed. The duck breast was beautifully cooked, a perfect medium with the skin crisp. The meat paired nicely with the turnip and baby carrots on the plate, the rosemary jus bringing it all together.
The lamb basically turned to liquid gold in my mouth, it was so tender. The parsnip puree wasn’t overcooked and had a satisfying bit of salt to it. The house-made gnocchi was light and airy, and tasted amazing with the sauce.
Finally, I had the lemon cheesecake dessert, and it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had recently. Not too dense, creamy yet flavourful, and tasted of real lemon, not the fake stuff.
It was a great experience, and a great way to see what the chefs of Yaletown are cooking up in an affordable way. Until next year, Yaletown!