The Corner Suite Bistro de Luxe
850 Thurlow St.
Signature Drink: Giada
Signature Dish: Chicken liver terrine
Dinner & drinks for two: $90
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a restaurant receive quite so much press before it had even opened. For the last seven months, it seems all everybody could talk about was the yet-again-delayed opening of Corner Suite. The addition of Anthony Sedlak as EC certainly had something to do with all the hoopla. Then, just as the restaurant had finally opened, out went a press release. Sedlak was no more. Book and TV opportunities won out over a hot kitchen, and the restaurant was left with executive sous chef Jason Leizert picking up the slack and donning the head hat.
I didn’t know what to expect, but figured that any chef who had previously run his own kitchen (Leizert has) and been chosen to work with Sedlak (who has never run a kitchen), must have something going for him. Three visits later, I had come to several conclusions.
First, the room. It’s bloody marvellous. Everything from the heavy silverware and polished black tables with their built in slots for your napkin, to the light blue dining chairs—made in Belgium, dipped in natural rubber, and super-extra-duper comfy—and the row of chandeliers, speaks of a fabulousness that leaves no room for pretension or snobbery. What there is room for is an excellent glass of wine, or a cocktail from the thirty-page encyclopaedia they call a drink list, along with lovely plates of French-based bistro fare.
And speaking of wines, all are available by the half-glass, full glass, carafe or bottle. I tried a half-glass of the lovely 2005 Château Rouselle Côtes de Bourg ($5.50). This is a wine that is normally sold only by the bottle, especially for this vintage year. The mark-ups seem lower than usual, and the selection—orchestrated by the talented Sebastien le Goff and Kurtis Kolt—is one of the best I’ve seen this past year in this price range.
As for the food, there is only one word for such well-priced, well-presented fare, and that word is splendid. Even the complimentary gougeres—little drops of pastry filled with gruyere—that come to each table as soon as you are seated, are tasty and inventive. The chicken liver pâté ($12) is so creamy as to almost rival foie, and dishes like the bacon and onion Alsatian tart ($14) or the veal cheeks with gnocchi and caramelized carrots ($25) are hearty, comfortable dishes that are perfectly executed. We also appreciated the kitchen’s initiative when it plated a shared main as two separate dishes, without us having to ask. That attention is visible everywhere, like with the complimentary meringues that came with our bill.
Of special note was the cheese menu, which is almost two pages and sorted according to the characteristics—washed rind, hard, soft, goat, buffalo, etc.
My only quibble came with the service on an early visit. The staff is pleasant and friendly, if occasionally inattentive, but the lack of numbers on the floor made for a slammed restaurant and waits of 20 minutes or more for drinks, mains, and bills. This is a problem that time will hopefully fix, and our later visits were free of further problems.
As for the what-might-have-been, I’m sure if Sedlak had stayed, the food would still be very good. His touch is all over the menu, and it is well-thought-out. But the execution is all Leizert, and it is impeccable. I predict that Corner Suite will have a long and happy run, celebrity chef or no.
Don’t forget! Dining Out for Life happens on March 25, with hundreds of restaurants across the province donating 25 per cent of food revenues to local organizations that support people living with AIDS. Visit diningoutforlife.com for details.
As a thank you to local restaurant goers, the Glowbal Group of Restaurants (Glowbal Grill, Coast, Sanafir, Italian Kitchen, Trattoria and Sanafir) is offering 30 per cent off of all lunch food items between March 15 and 25, Monday to Friday. Visit glowbalgroup.com for details.
Food in Brief
Chef Dino Renaerts, former executive chef at Diva at the Met, has taken over the reigns at Fraîche and Crave Beachside in West Vancouver. Chef/owner Wayne Martin will focus his attention on Crave on Main.