Restaurant Review: Chow on South Granville

Chow Restaurant Logo

If restau­rant names go through fads like the food eat­en in them, I think that in Van­cou­ver, we are in the ‘sin­gle word (or even syl­la­ble) and clever’ fad. Just to name a few, there’s West, Fuel, C, Crave, Nu, Rare, Grub, Brix, Reef, Karv, Pound and Posh. Add a few syl­la­bles and you get Lumière, Water­mark, Lick­er­ish, Cham­bar, Metro, Nuba, Stone­grill, Whineo’s, Un-Wined, Incen­dio, Aria and Elixir. (Don’t even get me start­ed on the cute names for cof­fee places.)

So then, with a name like Chow, what do you expect? A hearty retro tav­ern that serves plates of no-non­sense chili, roast chick­en and meat­loaf, per­haps?  An Asian-fusion place that does 5-spice pork dumplings, green papaya sal­ad and gin­ger-maple glazed salmon?  A lit­tle cheeky Ital­ian bistro?  Wrong on all counts.

Chow, which is about as far south you can go on Granville Street (#3121) before it becomes a res­i­den­tial thor­ough­fare, is a small (about 35-seat) bistro style restau­rant, that like Fuel in near­by Kit­si­lano (and to a degree, the award-win­ning West, which is just down the street), spe­cial­izes in a sea­son­al menu of pre­dom­i­nant­ly organ­ic ingre­di­ents, with an almost obses­sive atten­tion to the sourc­ing of food. At the back of the menu is a list of their sup­pli­ers, includ­ing a few that I knew already (Les Amis du Fro­mage, Joie Wines and Pold­er­side Farm), and a state­ment that the restau­rant “sup­ports local farms that prac­tice envi­ron­men­tal­ly sound agri­cul­ture and sus­tain­able farm­ing.” In fact, a few of the dish­es have their vendor’s name on the name of the dish, such as ‘Pold­er­side Farm’ duck pâté and ‘Slop­ing Hills Farm’ organ­ic pork. The pho­tos I’ve includ­ed here are not dish­es that we had, but a good exam­ple of the look of the food at Chow. You can see oth­ers at their site (which they link to).

Photo by Chris Mason Stearns

Pho­to by Chris Mason Stearns

Since we were there on Fri­day night for Pam’s birth­day, we decid­ed to leave room for dessert (she is a huge fan of apple desserts, but more of that lat­er). We opt­ed out of some of the ‘snacks’ (appe­tiz­ers, I assume), includ­ing pommes frites (bistro style french fries) with har­risa may­on­naise, mar­i­nat­ed olives, or pulled pork cro­quettes (although that one sound­ed inter­est­ing). Pam opt­ed for the grilled Van­cou­ver Island scal­lops, with an inter­est­ing accom­pa­ni­ment of braised veal cheeks (a melt-in-your mouth minia­ture pot-roast serv­ing) a snow-white cele­ri­ac purée, romaine let­tuce, radish and cel­ery sal­ad. Her scal­lops were beau­ti­ful­ly seared, with pret­ty grill marks, and she said that they were moist, but had a pleas­ant but not over­pow­er­ing taste of the grill, and the veg­eta­bles were crunchy and refresh­ing.

Photo by Tracey Kusiewich

Pho­to by Tracey Kusiewich

I decid­ed to go with a Beef Carpac­cio, which are sala­mi-sized thin slices of raw beef, topped with a few white anchovies, fin­ger­ling pota­toes, sal­sa verde, shreds of parme­san, frisee (that super-curly leafy green) and crispy fried shal­lots.  It’s light dish, occu­py­ing a place some­where between an appe­tiz­er, sal­ad and main course (if it had been a half-por­tion, it would have made a per­fect appe­tiz­er). You eat it by peel­ing the slices of beef off the plate with your fork. While the sal­sa verde was strong with herbal flavours, I didn’t find it over­whelm­ing and I pol­ished off the long, rec­tan­gu­lar plate of half-a dozen or so open-face raw beef and curly sal­ad sand­wich­es in short order.

As I men­tioned we decid­ed as part of the birth­day cel­e­bra­tion to have some desserts, and Pam ordered the Apple Crisp, which includ­ed apple com­pote, oat­meal crisp, caramel sauce and crème fraîche ice cream. The ice cream real­ly did taste like crème fraîche, the rich, but­tery rel­a­tive of sour cream, and the caramel sauce had a great bit­ter­sweet taste, the kind you get from the burnt sug­ar on crème brûlée.

I decid­ed to have the cheese plate (I often pre­fer cheese for dessert), and the three local cheeses includ­ed a salty but deli­cious feta/Ricotta sala­ta style cheese called ‘White Grace’, a smooth Tiger Bleu cheese and one of my all-time favourite cheeses we’ve dis­cov­ered here, ‘Juli­ette’ cheese, from Salt Spring Island. I’d describe Juli­ette as the daugh­ter of a hap­py mar­riage between a brie and a chèvre, with all the best qual­i­ties of both. It’s smooth and creamy with a brie-style rind, but with just a hint of the goat-y tang of a chèvre. They came on a bam­boo board with dried fruit, nuts, and the slight­ly but­tery, super-crispy toast­ed bread that is almost every­where these days (Leslie Stowe’s Rain­coast Crisps come to mind).

Chow offers a spe­cial, prix fixe menu at 5–6 PM, part­ly aimed at the­atre­go­ers attend­ing shows at the Stan­ley The­atre, which is across the street and down a few blocks. It’s a quite rea­son­able $38 per per­son, and that apple crisp is one of the dessert choic­es on that menu (and well worth hav­ing). I’d describe it as a chic, ‘100-mile diet’ epi­cure­an urban bistro, or you could think of it as Fuel’s lit­tle broth­er. Despite their small size and tough com­pe­ti­tion, I think they’ll do well, despite the mis­lead­ing mono­syl­lab­ic name.

Chow on Urbanspoon

4 Replies to “Restaurant Review: Chow on South Granville”

  1. If you find the restau­rant you’ve dined at on UrbanS­poon (use the Search func­tion), below you’ll find a lit­tle phrase “Blog­gers — have you reviewed this restau­rant — add your review” — click there, and it will offer you sev­er­al dif­fer­ent HTML codes that you can add to the post. They call these “Spoon­backs”

    Once UrbanS­poon notices that you have pub­lished a review and added the lit­tle widget/code, they’ll cross-link to you. I get a fair amount of traf­fic off of UrbanS­poon. That being said, they also get a lot of traf­fic off of me, so it works to both of our advan­tages 😀

    I’ve added the link to Chow (which you seem to have found). The review you post­ed can be rat­ed, but to cross-link with your blog, you have to use the sec­tion “Blog­gers — have you reviewed this restau­rant?”

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