WHEN ANNALENA OPENED IN 2015, in a Kitsilano storefront where multiple restaurants had come and gone in quick succession, executive chef-owner Mike Robbins explained that his aim was to offer a personal notion of modern Canadian cuisine — albeit through a decidedly Vancouver lens, which meant a sizable pan-Asian influence. That directive remains in place today, although much else has changed. After a brief pandemic-enforced closure, the dining room’s capacity was reduced from 58 to 38, and à la carte offerings have been permanently replaced with a tasting menu that changes monthly. (You can also get a fourcourse takeout dinner that draws from same.) This, says Robbins, allows the kitchen to “focus on exactly what we want to do, with much more creativity and freedom.” Recently, that has meant freewheeling creations, such as an amuse of a beet-and-duck-fat muffin topped with duck pâté (piped like frosting) and a showering of black truffle. The aforementioned Asian influence, meanwhile, comes through in crispy halibut cheek fried tempura style, and a mushroom lasagna given depth with white miso. And though the restaurant’s minimalist interior has become somewhat more sophisticated, there are still Lego sculptures and other childhood bric-a-brac lining the walls.
Inventive tasting menus with great wine pairings.”
Photography by: Allison Kuhl