My first impression of Fable was made on a quick lunch with a couple co workers. I had walked by a few times on my way to pick up beer and wine for the weekly “happy hour” at work and always wanted to give it a try.
I was drawn to the farm-table premise. I’m a big advocate of not only local food but of food awareness. I believe farm fresh food is the best way for us to reconnect with our food and I believe it is very important that we make that connection meaningful.
A large portion of my childhood was spent at my grandmothers home in Wilson’s Creek on the Sunshine Coast. I never knew the property/hobby farm as my dad knew it in all its fruit/veggie/chicken/duck and pig glory but my fondest memories as a child were spending time among the raspberry bushes, under the pear tree, pulling up carrots and potatoes, or on the outskirts of the garden picking wild huckleberries. My personal favourite was going out to the chicken coop to pluck warm and fresh eggs from under the resting hens while grandma prepared ingredients to make waffles.
These are very, very deeply rooted memories for me and food plays the central role. I understand that I had some opportunities that some other suburban kids didn’t have and I’m grateful for every one. I was able to see the fruits of my labour. I planted, nurtured, raised, harvested and consumed. Now, almost 30 years later I look back and these memories are the ones that seem most meaningful. Nevermind my ninjaturtles and transformers (which are still awesome) it’s the food that invokes the strongest feeling in me.
I believe it’s important for people to understand food. Understand that meat comes from living, breathing, creatures; that berries come from bushes; apples come from trees; and carrots come from the earth. I know people understand on an empirical level but without experience you cannot really get it. You don’t know what the leaves look like on an apple tree, or the colour of the ant that drops on you when you pick the apple, or the strange wasp-looking fly that hovers by your elbow in the garden.
This is turning out to be more a post on my food beliefs than Fable Restaurant… I’ll get right to it but I must say: Kudos to you Trevor Bird in bringing the farm to the table.
I made reservations for my wife and I on her birthday. It was a tuesday evening and they were already booking up a week in advance. Good news. During my previous visit, we were told of a chef’s taster menu for $45. I’m all in!
So my wife and I arrive a bit early (maybe a little eager) and were seated by our pleasant host at a small 2 seater table in the main part. I expressed interest in the chef’s menu and our server mentioned that it was best enjoyed from the bar at the front of house in front of the main cook stations. While we waited for a spot to open at the bar, we enjoyed some Farmhand Ale from Driftwood Brewery and a couple starters. We ordered both the starter specials too. An heirloom tomato salad with aged balsamic, olive oil and house made goat (I think?) cheese and also the salmon tartar with quick-pickled cucumber and pickled horseradish.
The tomatoes were full of life and depth, nothing like what we’ve grown used to from grocery stores. And the salmon was cool and refreshing. I would highly recommend both.
Following our starters, we were seated at the bar by the salad station. Greeted warmly by the chefs upon our arrival, we immediately felt welcomed and I was anticipating a pleasant dining experience. Shortly after sitting down we were welcomed by chef Trevor Bird and after a couple comments and laughs we let him get back to work.
Our first course from the taster menu were Sawmill Bay oysters with pickled horseradish and grapefruit wedges. I’m a huge fan of oysters and don’t like them to be overloaded with extra fixings. Keep it simple! Which is what these were, the flavour of the fresh local oysters (harvested by Bowen Island outside of Vancouver) was allowed to shine with the support of the light and sharp garnishes.
Second course was our favourite. Chickpea falafel with curry mayo. The fritters were well formed and perfectly cooked but the main event was the curry mayo. Best every, really. It was sweet, sour, spicy in all the right ways, not too salty… amazing. Get this one while you can.
Third course was a twist on an old staple: canned tuna. We learned after dinner that this dish came about during construction when Trevor was unloading empty mason jars from a box. The idea struck him to reinvent (i.e.: make edible) canned tuna. With a layer of potato and tomato underneath the tuna, it’s slow-poached in olive oil with some lemon. It’s served with crustini’s and a small spoon of salt. You’re intended to mash it all together to mix the ingredients together and then spread it on the bread. Well done sir, well done… The tuna is cooked to perfection and melts along with the oil, it’s a salty, citrusy and oily smack of flavour.
Fourth course is pan seared halibut with chorizo sausage over a bowl of mussel chowder. The chorizo is cut into thin strips so that you can cut through it with a spoon and not mash up your piece of fish. My fish was well cooked and balanced well with the heat of the chorizo and the creaminess of the soup.
Fifth course, the main, was medium rare flank steak with a black pepper jelly. The steak like butter. It melted in your mouth. Trevor is very clever in his seasoning. The steak itself was very lightly seasoned, which let the flavour of the meat come through, and the pepper jelly was spread on the plate underneath the steak itself. This way, the diner wasn’t obligated to eat the jelly and could put on as much or as little as he or she wanted. Nice touch.
During my first lunch, we ordered the pot de crème with gin foam and lemon granita and I haven’t looked back. I love custard and would love crème brûlée more if it didn’t have that hard sugar! (yeah I know that’s the “best part” but I don’t like it) I’m not a huge fan of super sweet desserts either so the pot de crème was perfect for me! So I requested that we get one of those for our dessert and the server was nice enough to comply AND brought us another dessert on top of that! The second dessert was chocolate pudding with walnuts, cookie bits, anise foam, and mint garnish. I love chocolate but hate SWEET chocolate, this dessert was a nice compromise of sweet and bitter and turned out to be very nice.
During dinner we chatted with the friendly chefs and serving staff, who all seemed very very interested in the food being served. It’s a relief to be served something by someone who can explain a bit more about the food than just the ingredients… like where the meat is from, how long ago the oysters were harvested, and even how to make the cheese.
At the end of the night we were offered a complimentary glass of Muscato wine to top of an extremely pleasurable evening filled with good conversation and great food. I would recommend the chef’s menu and to sit at the bar for a really unique experience.
Keep up the great work Trevor, I’ll be back!