On Friday night, my friend Christina and I had dinner at L’Abbatoir in Gastown. We made sure to make reservations. Since it was the end of a busy and rainy work week, neither of us was particularly in the mood for an hour long wait or a seat at the bar. I had a meeting run long so when I finally got to L’Abbatoir, she was already seated upstairs, cocktail in hand. I ordered a caipirinha, and began the process of picking an appetizer and entrée from an amazing menu. Easier said than done.
I was torn between the Dungeness crab & chickpea toast and smoked sturgeon carpaccio (with fried jalapenos, might I add), but finally settled on the former to start, and the pork shoulder as my main. The crab & chickpea toast was nothing like I’d expected. I was anticipating something bruschetta-like, but instead was pleasantly surprised with a cylindrical structure filled with garlic cream, chickpeas, pickled carrots, brioche croutons, and a generous amount of Dungeness crab. What you had to do was break into the crunchy cylinder, and eat up! It was fantastic.
Next up was the pork shoulder which was cooked in milk, very tender and topped with a salsa verde. My favourite part of that dish was the kale that the pork shoulder sat atop. The kale was wilted just enough with a well-balanced combination of salt and tang, and made for the perfect accompaniment to the rich pork shoulder. The turnips and pearl onions – some whole and some sliced – added great texture and crunch. Christina had the feature, which if I remember correctly, was lamb done three ways, and which she seemed to enjoy a lot.
Then came dessert: I had the chocolate custard tart, and Christina had the vanilla poached pears. You’d think that after such a hearty main I’d pick a lighter dessert. But at the end of a particularly chaotic week, I needed chocolate. Dessert was amazing. That chocolate custard tart had to be one of the best desserts I’ve had. Ever. The chocolate tart, which itself was great, was topped with a scoop of white-chocolate-banana ice cream, itself topped with meringue. It was layer after layer of flavour and texture, from the sweet meringue, to the cold ice cream, the rich chocolate and the crisp tart shell. As if that weren’t enough, there were a few slices of caramelized bananas, which were like little gems of sweetness. Hands down one of the best dinners I’ve had in a long time.
P.S. Another thing to note about L’Abbatoir is their great little bread basket, which isn’t just your basic baguette or sourdough. Among other things, it’s got salty, buttery anchovy twists. So simple, yet kind of mind-blowing.
217 Carrall Street