No. 31: Nightingale
THE ESTEEMED FINE DINING CHEF DAVID HAWKSWORTH HAS FOR THE FIRST TIME PUT HIS STAMP ON SOMETHING CASUAL.
His purpose is not to reinvent the wheel. Rather, he has hitched his wagon to a pair of fresh but well-established culinary trends: ingredient-driven Californian-Italian cuisine and small plates. To this contagiously enjoyable mix Hawksworth has added a good lashing of his signature culinary finesse, and general attention to detail. If the result is not altogether new, it is new to Vancouver—and it works beautifully here. The setting is the Marine Building near the waterfront, and the space is massive.
The main level is dominated by a large bar, the walls dressed with mock-origami birds (not hawks, but nightingales, right?), pale wood and tiled pillars. Upstairs is dominated by a madly bustling open kitchen, cranking out the veritable barrage of small plates required for 500 covers a night. Still, they are thoughtfully conceived and go effortlessly well with good wine, and good friends. These plates are meant to be shared, enjoyed and not fussed over—but they bear scrutiny, if that’s what you’re into. Start with a bright green mint-spiked mash of favas and spring peas spread over lemony ricotta on flavoursome sourdough. Or a citrusy halibut ceviche, with pretty slices of valentine radish and a lacing of toasted quinoa.
Try one of the signature pizzas—say, black truffle, creamed leek and fontina—built on a Neopolitan-style dough, with crisp crust and creamy-soft crumb. Salads crackle with competing flavour and texture. Roast bone marrow, pork belly with sauerkraut, rockfish with citrus butter—there is something here for everyone. The cocktail program is sharp, the wine list broad. Service is casual, but competent. Nightingale is a food party for grownups.
Monday to Sunday
11:00 AM until 12:00 AM
IMAGES COURTESY OF NIGHTINGALE