No. 13: L’Abattoir
It’s hard to keep up with all the new restaurants sprouting between the cobblestones of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, now thoroughly gentrified by hipsters and tech companies.
Amid all that foment, this ruggedly elegant French-inspired charmer, whose name pays homage to Gastown’s meatpacking provenance, remains the finest. Set in a refurbished brick-and-beam building appointed with classic tiles, sculpted driftwood and industrial fixtures, L’Abattoir offers a bar, upper dining room, glass-encased atrium and new self-contained private dining facility across the back alleyway. Owned by executive chef Lee Cooper and general manager Paul Grunberg (both formerly of Jean Georges’ Market), the restaurant comports itself well in innumerable ways, with a sophisticated bread program, eclectic wine list and astonishingly good cocktails.
When possible start with the chef Cooper’s favourite dish: baked Pacific oyster with truffle purée, mushroom marmalade and whipped garlic butter. While his seasonal menus read simply they invariably incorporate imaginative twists. Venison tartare is adorned with smoked duck yolks, suckling pig comes with grilled sauerkraut, and the venerable Steak Diane gets cheese puffs and a peppercorn condiment. This is sophisticated cooking without affectations.
No shortcuts from either the kitchen or the bar in a seriously sexy room. – CHRIS JOHNS
From cocktails to service and the great seasonal menus, it’s always a pleasure dining here. – DALE MACKAY