Everything here is a pleasant surprise and exceeds expectations.
Art and culinary elements come together at Origo Club to serve up a memorable European fine-dining experience in Richmond, British Columbia.
Where the majority of fine-dining restaurants choose to situate themselves at the heart of downtown Vancouver, Origo Club’s Managing Partner, Woody Wu explained that they intentionally chose to locate in Richmond because of the lack of fine-dining options for the Richmond community.
They have definitely outdone themselves, with a sophisticated interior presentation designed by John Henshaw Architect Inc., separate areas for an art gallery space and dining space, and private dining rooms to take your social gatherings and special occasions to the next level.
Woody envisions the French lifestyle coming to life in their dining space, with an imported, state of the art espresso and pullover coffee system, and partnerships with 4 different roasters to ensure the perfect roast for each type of coffee bean. Whether it’s grabbing a delicate, buttery and satisfyingly flaky croissant in the morning, or enjoying a 6-course meal with thoughtful wine pairings, Woody and his team have thought through every detail to deliver an authentic French dining experience.
As you dine you will see Woody testing out different coffee brews with his staff, working hard to ensure every touchpoint with his customers is consistent with their brand philosophy. If you take the time to venture through their art space, where a modernized circular entry and full-wall artifact display pays tribute to the ancient architecture of Chinese dynasties past, you will see that the team built a meeting room and training space to teach all their staff about the wines they serve, the process of the menu design, so that each of them can share this knowledge with their patrons. They take customer service very seriously.
It’s evident that Woody and his team is passionate about their goal of bringing an elevated French dining experience to Richmond, to share all the wonderful culinary experiences they have come across through their years of traveling abroad.
The crowning jewel on the experience is the finely curated and meticulously designed menu. While Woody mentions that they are only providing a limited menu at the moment, we believe such a curated menu serves up only the best, and our 6-course menu took us back to our European travels, where dinner is an adventure perfected with personable service and knowledge share - including a tale of the origins of the wine and the ingredients of the dishes.
Here you won’t find the servers simply reciting off a list of menu specials, there’s a story behind each decision and addition to the dining experience. With that, let us share our tasting menu experience.
We started with the seasonal salad, a medley of fruits and beets with just the right amount of creamy burrata cheese with a splash of pepper for flavor. A Domaine Marcel Deiss 2015 Riesling with a slight alluring bitterness and zesty fruity freshness paired well with the tangy chunks of apricot in the salad. The best way to work up an appetite for the courses to follow.
With the second course, we got a serving of farm harvest baby vegetables atop a white bean mousse. You taste the freshness in every bite, and the white bean mousse grounds the dish by giving it more texture.
The beef tartare was a notable dish of the evening. While beef tartare is often made with capers to balance out the scent of the raw beef, this beer tartare did not require such a strong taste to counteract the scent, because the beef was so fresh it was better not to add in other strong flavors. A lovely, rich champagne with notes of pear and nuts from Barons de Rothschild was selected to bring out the flavors of the meat.
The next course was an eye-opener for me because where I very rarely eat shellfish, this dish had me cleaning the plate and wishing I had a loaf of bread to savor every drop of the broth. The Moules et Coquillages serves up a generous portion of mussels and clams, in a rich, tangy broth made of andouille sausage, tomato, garlic & chili sauce. The broth will leave you salivating for more, long after you devoured all the shellfish.
As if the chef had read my mind, the next dish was a heavier dish, a housemade pappardelle with a truffle mornay sauce. Large flakes of black truffle sat atop the inviting bed of pasta. Woody explained that they decided to use a thicker pasta to pair with the heavier sauce, or else the pasta texture would not hold. To pair with the heavier flavors, a red wine from Pic Saint-Loup in Southern France blended with Grenache and Syrah grapes offered a rich and intense flavor.
Next was a seafood dish, the beautiful shoyu-glazed sablefish, with sea asparagus, seasonal vegetables, fish consommé, and fried leeks. A light broth lets the natural flavor of the fish shine through. A late harvest Reisling was selected as the pairing for the fish, its sweetness complementing the savory flavor.
We concluded the 7-course dinner with an inventive twist on the classic crème brûlée with the Crème Brûlée à l'Espresso. Condensed milk ice cream sits atop a crispy brandy snap, separating the ice cream from the espresso crème brûlée in the container. Upon breaking through the brandy snap, the condensed milk ice cream flows down to mix with the espresso crème to create a delicious mixture almost like a sweet shot of caffeine. Without the traditional torched sugar coating, the brandy snap is the perfect, if not better, substitute to provide a crispy crunch to the dessert. To go with this inventive dessert, Woody chose a rare Macvin from the Jura region, an aperitif red wine.
Woody attentively paired every course with a recommended wine, carefully explaining the reason why he chose each pairing. Having just returned from trips to wine country both in Napa Valley and the Okanagan, I liken the experience of dining at Origo Club to an exclusive wine club tasting, with the added benefit of a fine dining meal. Here, the wines take the lead on the menu, and it is definitely a pleasant surprise every step of the way.
#110 - 6888 River Road, Richmond
Photos: Florence Leung