How about a refreshing summer rosé with intensely-rich, buttery wagyu carpaccio?
That basically sums up our meal at popular local hangout Wildebeest on a sunny summer afternoon.
When you step inside you immediately notice the photo-worthy, red bleached wood wall. The lived-in, rustic vibe of the restaurant is courtesy of its extensive history, as its located in a 19th-century heritage building in Gastown. The characteristic millwork, fixtures and furnishings are supplied by Union Wood Co. with a statement wall acting as the perfect photoshoot backdrop by the entrance.
The bar lines the length of one side of the restaurant, where a variety of liquors are stacked high on the shelves. Warm, wooden booths are complemented with maroon-red leather stools, and dark florals accent the space, giving it a cozy, feminine touch.
The bespoke floral arrangements are renewed weekly by The Wild Bunch, and are used to accent various viewpoints in the room, on the statement wall, the reception table, kitchen counter and cabinets, and on the stairwell down to the basement.
Whereas the statement wall marks the entryway, a stunning custom floral arrangement marks the back of the restaurant. Pretty purples and blues, dusty pink and muted colours are arranged amongst single-bulb hanging lights. With these memorable and cohesive decorative points, it comes as no surprise that the restaurant won 'Best New Design' at the 2012 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. The restaurant had also won 'Best New Restaurant' in the same year, so we could hardly contain our excitement as waited to taste their signature dishes.
The wagyu carpaccio was the first to arrive at our table, and the team shared with us that this wagyu is raised by the only pure-bred wagyu beef farmer in the region, and because of their relationship with this farmer, who only slaughters three to four cows per year, they are able to purchase half a cow.
Served simply with Ossau Iraty, long pepper, fennel pollen, olive oil, and wild cress, these supporting ingredients soak up the oils and fats from the beef, and the resulting is truly a decadent taste of heaven.
Our host suggested that we pair this with a refreshing summer rosé wine. - Culmina 'R&D Rosé Blend’ 2016. This R&D Rosé Blend is a fresh, elegant, delicately styled rosé of exceptional quality from the Golden Mile Bench in Oliver, B.C.
Next was the bone marrow, served with roasted leeks and oyster mushrooms, crimini mushroom vinaigrette, and a boxy chunk of grilled sourdough bread to soak up all the juices. The staff kindly added a shot of sherry for us to do the 'bone luge', which is where you pour the shot of sherry from one end of the bone marrow and drink the shot from the other end to savour every last bit of the bone marrow contents.
Last was the sweet, tender Bison Tri Tip. Grilled bison, served on a bed of spinach purée, with crispy fried capers and treacle jus. The fried 'Jansson's Temptation' is the owner's creation, a lightly fried, Japanese 'korokke' style potato, perfect to go with the indulgent bison meat.
Our host recommended the Blue Grouse 'Quill' 2015 Merlot/Cabernet Franc from Duncan, BC to go with this dish, a great pairing to bring out the richness of both items.
The three items were thoroughly satisfying, especially when paired with the delicious wines. The best way to enjoy your dining experience at Wildebeest is the 'omakase' option, where you leave it up to the chef to come up with a tailored dining menu for your party.
The multi-level restaurant also has a hidden gem, a private dining room on the lower level, also known as "The Underbelly", which seats up to forty people - perfect for a career, life, or milestone celebration.
Whether you fancy a hearty weekend brunch, a delightful 'omakase' dinner, or a nightcap before heading home to bed, Wildebeest offers an intimate setting for you to enjoy a memorable culinary experience. Located in the heart of historic Gastown, it's a convenient stop for tourists and locals alike. If you do decide to visit, we recommend sipping one or two signature cocktails before tucking into a decadent multi-course omakase dinner at Wildebeest!
120 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
Photos: Florence Leung