Vancouver’s Wildebeest Offers Limited-Edition “Field & Forest” Menu

Photo Credit: Jonathan Norton

Just as we’re getting weary of turnips and beets, spring is upon us, with a host of gorgeous ingredients to inspire chefs around the city.

Wildebeest, located in iconic Gastown, has worked hard to cultivate strong relationships with local producers and foragers, offering a menu that shifts with the seasons. Their latest featured items showcase the bounty of “Field & Forest.”

From now until June 17, 2019, Wildebeest (120 West Hastings Street) will be offering dishes and a beverage, available nightly à la carte on a first-come first-served basis, that spotlight spring ingredients that taste intensely of this locale. Regular menu items will also be available.

It begins with the “How to Dougie,” a special cocktail created by Bar Manager Alex Black that invokes the forest on the palate. It consists of Douglas-fir infused Resurrection Spirits white rye, dry vermouth, foraged flowering currant cordial, maraschino liqueur, herbal bitters, and foraged spruce tip oil.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

Chef Ian McHale has taken a similar approach to the five dishes that are being featured for two weeks. McHale combines ingredients in wonderfully unexpected ways.

A lovely opening to a meal is the Foxglove Farm asparagus with licorice fern, buttermilk, preserved strawberries, wood sorrel, cured mustard seeds, and asparagus consommé. The dish elegantly spotlights the flavour of the asparagus at its seasonal prime.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

The other starter on offer is smoked Yarrow Meadows Magret duck breast with trailing blackberries, buffalo blue cheese, and wild flowers. Exquisitely plated, the dish has intense flavours, with the smoky savoury quality of the duck matched by the bold taste of the blue cheese. The flowers add some whimsy and lightness, while the tart sweetness of the blackberries cut the richness of the dish.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

Moving onto the mains, the kitchen has crafted two earthy items that delve deep into robust local flavours. The rabbit ragu rigatoni features hazelnuts, long pepper, lovage, and elderflower; the rabbit is incredibly tender, with the whole dish infused with herbaceous, floral notes.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

The climax of the menu is, undoubtedly, the Peace Country lamb shank with spinach purée, sweet cicely, and fois gras parfait-stuffed morels. The latter were absolutely sublime two-bite jewels.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

You can finish the meal with a dessert of malted custard, cannoli pastry and grand fir ice cream. Again, the ingredient usage is novel, but entirely delicious and very much of this precise place and time. There’s a fleeting quality to these “field & forest” flavours, highlighted by the limited time frame of their availability at the restaurant.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

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