WHEN OTHERS SCALED BACK, PUBLISHED ON MAIN CAME OUT SWINGING. Launched on the cusp of the pandemic, this refined neighbourhood gathering-spot inspired by traditional English coffee houses (bright solarium up front, dark panelling in the back) initially tried to be all things. Alongside a grandiose 30-item dinner menu, it offered brunch, latenight munchies, takeout (temporarily), a guest chef series and a pop-up street patio. Now having settled into evening service exclusively, the boldly determined kitchen has knocked everyone’s socks off with its elaborate 11-course tasting menu. Actually, make that 20-plus courses. In addition to nine mains, there are typically eight to ten snacks in the show-stopping opening number. Then, the grand finale features three desserts, usually detailed miniatures from the à la carte menu. All of which should be counted individually. Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson translates a Nordic sensibility to British Columbia cuisine through his abundant use of finely balanced fermentations, aerated hay custards and foraged ingredients, tramping through local forests to collect most of the wildflowers, fir tips and mushrooms himself. But he also leans heavily into his Manitoban German heritage with excellent schnitzel, roast pickerel and beefy markklöesschen soup (swapped out for nettle dumplings in gamehen broth come spring). And, as thoughtful Vancouver chefs trying to evoke a veritable sense of place do, he deftly incorporates dashi tomato sauces, koji beurre blancs and other Asian flavours. Service has caught up to the chef ’s ambition and is now highly polished. May we suggest the adventurous Beverage Experience, which includes a different drink for every course, including sake, elegant natural wines and savoury cocktails? Because even though Published on Main has found its fine-dining groove, it’s still full of stunning surprises.
One of my favourite dining experiences in Vancouver.”
Photos: Sarah Annand