No. 5: St. Lawrence
From Le Coucou in New York City to La Banane in Toronto, classical French cuisine is enjoying a renaissance.
But at St. Lawrence in Vancouver, revived anachronisms such as quenelles de morue en sauce Normande, vol-au-vent à la financière and ris de veau à la Grenobloise receive a Québécois twist—served in perfect harmony alongside venison tourtière, oreilles de crisse, croquettes de pied de cochon and other elevated renditions of la cuisine de grand-mère. Chef-owner Jean-Christophe Poirier is best known for his Italian cooking at Ask For Luigi and Pizzeria Farina, but his heart belongs to Quebec, where he grew up (in Saint-Jérôme) and did his formative training, rising to chef de partie at Toqué! before moving to Vancouver to join Rob Feenie’s Lumière in 2004. Here, in a dark, cozy dining room filled with antiques, fleurs-de-lys and an open kitchen counter, he recreates the magic of his childhood and layers it with old-school French techniques.
Alongside the Québécois classics, the kitchen digs deep into the canon, dusting off gloriously rich dishes that rarely see the light of day: lobster Newburg, cailles en sarcophage, foie gras Paris-Brest. The majestically tall pâté en croûte with decorative chimney caps and intricately garnished inlays is particularly impressive. Don’t hesitate to order the ling cod fillet should you see it on the daily special sheet; the elaborate feast for two comes enclosed in a molded-pastry second skin with bulging eyes, scales and fin. Cocktails are heavy on the cognac, the list of digestifs is extensive, the wine list is entirely French and service is soigné.
Photo Courtesy of St. Lawrence