Three months ago, West Restaurant—the multiple-award winner of Vancouver Restaurant Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year Award and one of the indisputable leaders in Vancouver cuisine—made major changes to its interior and its menu. West redesigned its dining room, replacing its old-school, white-tablecloth formality with sleek, stylish stone table tops and warm, urban fixtures to better reflect its innovative, contemporary cuisine, and added a new menu to its famous a la carte and Tasting Menu options: the tapas/izakaya-style Elements.
With Elements, West Restaurant provides a new way to enjoy its phenomenal food at a lower price point than its traditional a la carte fare. From the Elements menu, diners can choose from a range of exceptional-yet-reasonably-priced items, like the Crispy Stuffed Mussels for $2.50 each or the tender, melt-in-your-mouth Fraser Valley Pork Belly for $12, and then share the food, family-style, so that everyone in your party gets to try each of the dishes.
Yesterday, my partner and I headed over to West to try out the Elements menu for ourselves. We ordered six items from Elements, and combined them with a few favourites from West’s a la carte menu. (That’s one of the great things about Elements: Because diners pick and choose what they want to sample, the Elements can be their own meal, work as an appetizer or give you a little extra variety in addition to your a la carte entree.)
For our Elements tasting, we tried the Brussels Sprouts, North Arm Farm Beets, Fraser Valley Pork Belly, Honey Mussels, Gnocchi, and Overnight Braised Short Ribs. Each dish was placed in the centre of the table, so we could serve ourselves, family-style.
If you’ve ever been to West before, I don’t need to tell you how incredible the food is, and the new items on the Elements menu are just as fantastic. For us, the stand-outs were the Honey Mussels (crispy mussels stuffed with spinach, pictured at top), the light and refreshing North Arm Farm Beets, and the Pork Belly, which was perfectly complimented by the accompanying stone fruit compote and cooked to such tenderness you could cut it with a fork.
The Brussels Sprouts were a total revelation. Brussels sprouts have become very trendy in foodie circles, but for many of us (myself included), bad childhood memories may prevent us from giving them a try, even when served by such a masterful hand as West’s Executive Chef Quang Dong. But for $8.50 (and a portion designed to be shared), Elements’ Brussels Sprouts are worth the risk and, I promise, will completely change your mind about this (formerly) maligned veggie. At West, the Brussels sprouts are crunchy, fresh, and served with a shallot crumble that brings out the best in their natural flavour, so that they have just a touch of sweetness.
As mentioned, my partner and I combined items from the Elements menu with a few choices from West’s a la carte menu, one of which I must recommend: the Thiessen Farm Quail. Our quail dish was paired with Chanterelle tortellini, Brussels sprouts, pureed mushrooms and an herb powder, and it had all the hallmarks that make West so excellent: innovation, complexity, surprise flavours, incredible pairings. This is the type of dish that keeps bringing me back to West; it’s why, of all the restaurants in Vancouver I’ve visited/reviewed, West is consistently in my personal Top 5. Like many who loved West before the redesign, I’m ecstatic that this high-level of cuisine continues even as the more affordable Elements menu takes off.
If you haven’t been to West Restaurant since its transformation in December 2011, go. Enjoy sharing the items from the Elements menu with friends and family and don’t forget to save room for one of West’s famous original cocktails!
West Restaurant is located in the heart of South Granville’s shopping and dining district and is ideal for drinks, appetizers or dinner before a night at the theatre or after a day of shopping/antiquing.