There are some restaurants out there that are all about the hype. They’re everywhere, on social media, on print, everywhere you go there’s some advertising for them. Then you go try them and you leave disappointed, since you’ve been expecting so much more due to the “hype”.
I was wary about trying Forage due to the hype surrounding it since it opened little more than a year ago. This restaurant is located inside the Listel Hotel on the corner of Jervis and Robson St in downtown Vancouver. It took over the space the old O’Doul’s restaurant used to be. I used to like O’Doul’s – it had a decent cocktail/wine list and live jazz.
It really seemed to good to be true… the “perfect” restaurant if you will. The brainchild of Chef Chris Whittaker, Forage stands for taking care of the planet and each other. Seasonal menus are created with sustainability in mind. Organic and local products rule the menu, and every detail – like having local wine on tap instead of bottles to minimize recycling – has the conservation of natural resources in mind.
A place like this has to be pretentious beyond belief right? – Not so. Servers are relaxed and friendly. The food is simple and encourages conversation and good company. (The menu consists of small plates, perfect for sharing).
And sharing we did – it is recommended an average of 4-5 dishes to share between two people in order to get a good idea of the menu. The menu is divided into snacks, irons, boards, plates, bowls and sweets. We tried evert category except the boards.
As a snack – we started with the kale and apple chips ($5)
I keep saying I’m not a fan of kale, yet I keep eating it and liking it. Great combination of textures and flavours. The kale was so crispy it simply dissolved in your mouth. The secret we were told was cooking the kale in a convention oven. It dehydrates it enough to make it crispy. We were very pleased with our starter.
Next to the irons: We ordered two of them- the roasted pan bread ($7) and the roasted beets ($12)
The bread was an abundance of cheesy, gooey goodness – Drizzled with a spicy honey, the cheddar and the spice are a delightful combination. Don’t think about this dish, just get it. Yes, yes, yes.
The beet salad was an abundance of roasted beets mixed with goat cheese, greens and pears. It was topped with pickled walnuts. Great combination of flavours.
On to the plates: roasted squash perogies ($12)
Three large perogies nested in a cheddar fondue sauce drizzled in a reduction of burg syrup and vinegar, these are not your mother’s perogies. I didn’t think this dish could get any better but then I tasted the smokey onion garnish. Perfection on a plate.
Moving on to the bowls: Many choices available, bison, tuna, even octopus. In the end we opted for the barley-hay smoked pork chop ($24).
The succulent chop was drizzle in pork jus and complimented with honey-glazed vegetables, including cherry tomatoes in a bed of min spaetzle, which soaked all those juices nicely. Topped with apple chutney, this dish was made perfect with a glass of craft cider ($8).
Which reminds me to mention their drink menu. Although quite limited, the cocktail list is tasty. They have several local spirits available, like Long Table vodka, which makes a perfectly smooth dirty martini.
Finally on to the sweets: the malted chili chocolate cake ($8) and the huckleberry and hazelnut financier ($8)
Chili and chocolate? Sign me up.
Forage not only lives up to the hype, but exceeded all my expectations. I intent to check them out for brunch next. I’ve heard the menu is phenomenal.
Follow them on Twitter: @ForageVancouver