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This Market is truly Shangri-La

It’s happened. No, I mean it’s really happened. I have found therestaurant that is going to cater my wedding -- assuming I ever meetsomeone I want to marry.

Market by Jean-Georges
1128 West Georgia St.
Vancouver
604-695-1115

shangri-la.com

Open Daily; 11:30 a.m. to late

Signature Drink: Orange-Elderflower Cosmo
Signature Dish: Lobster & Potato Gnocchi

Rating: *****
Dinner & drinks for two: $120

It’s happened. No, I mean it’s really happened. I have found the restaurant that is going to cater my wedding -- assuming I ever meet someone I want to marry. Perfect days require perfect food, right? Oh, but, of course, you’re saying, it’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s (try saying that three times fast) new resto at the Shangri-La, of course it’s amazing, and probably pricey to boot, you smirk.

Think again. Sure, the prices aren’t diner-equivalents, but with entrees mainly staying below the $28 mark and cocktails around $9, it’s not exactly the most expensive meal in the city either. When you factor in taste, quality and service, it’s a damn bargain.

The room has a simple, elegant feel, despite the solid gold bling hanging behind the banquets. The restaurant proper has an intimate ambiance, thanks to the U-shape that segregates diners from the main café/bar area. It also helps that the service is a few notches above. Paul Grunberg, former GM at Chambar, was poached by Market to run its main dining room, and the service has all the hallmarks of comfort for both employees and guests, although those large silver carrying trays are awfully wide, and a couple of times, I thought about ducking as one passed by.

The kitchen is run by Executive Chef David Foot, a B.C. native who formerly worked at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, the Westin Grand on Robson and the Metropolitan. Foot was handpicked by both Vongerichten and Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver General Manager Stephen Darling, and is obviously a fabulous fit for the pan-pacific menu put forth at Market.

The wine list is just as reasonable as the menu. By the glass options hover around $10, and bottle selections top out at around $250, with a good selection of reds and whites under $60. Our party of four felt a need for hooch, so we went with cocktails. The orange-elderflower cosmo was the table favourite, but a cucumber martini tasted so fresh it could have been part of a facial.

Foie gras brulée ($16) with dried sour cherries and white port gelée sat on a delicate, soaked biscuit, sinfully good and ridiculously large. Velvety butternut squash soup ($8) was poured tableside over trumpet mushrooms, spinach and chives. Seared scallops ($16) with caramelized cauliflower was over the top with a salty-sweet caper-raisin emulsion. Soy-glazed beef short ribs ($19) fell off the bone into the apple-jalapeno puree and were inhaled off the plate. Desserts ($8 each) of passionfruit Pavlova and crème fraîche cheesecake with red wine sorbet were addictive.

We thought we were done after dessert—since we paid and left and all—but a final treat was waiting in my car when the valet ($10 for the night) brought it around…house-baked fortune cookies (drizzled with chocolate) in a recyclable container. According to one of the messages inside, “Your delightful journey is only just beginning.” Here’s to that.

The Many Sides of Pinot: Pinot Meunier

It’s most famous for being one of three varietals used to make Champagne, but this black Pinot mutant is pretty quaffable all on its own. With a richness of fruit on the palate, these Meuniers all boast a tang of summer with a nice berry finish. Soaring Eagle ($21.90), St. Hubertus ($16.01), Thornhaven Estate ($17.90), all at Edgemont Village VQA Wine Store. villagevqawines.com.

Top Shelf

There are still tickets left for several events at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival next month, but they’re selling out quickly, so be sure to buy soon. playhousewinefest.com

Dining Out

So.Cial at Le Magasin (332 Water St) has a new complimentary weekly wine tasting, every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a few small bites from Chef Romy Prasad. Stay on afterward for the fabulous three-course dinner for $25, available nightly from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Call 604-669-4488 or visit socialatlemagasin.com.

On Sunday, March 1, La Quercia Restaurant (3689 West 4 Ave) and Tyler Dawson (Ty the Wine Guy) will present an evening of authentic Italian food and rare Piedmont wines. The seven-course menu includes Barolo braised beef cheeks, rabbit arrosto and Tajarin al tartufo. $119 per person. Call 604-676-1007 for reservations and more info.

Food in Brief

A Presidential Quaff…During U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent Canadian visit, he sipped none other than Quail’s Gate 2007 Chenin Blanc. QG owner Tony Stewart called it “an historic honour for Quail’s Gate.”

Raincity Grill, C Restaurant and Nu Restaurant & Lounge will all be shutting off the lights, both in the kitchen and in the dining room, during Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28. Romantic candlelight dining meets mitzvah…I’m in.

 
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