1535 W. 6th Ave., Vancouver, BC | 604-620-2070
Of all the utensils in your arsenal at the Farmer’s Apprentice, the most crucial to master is the spoon. Each small plate – more often, actually, it’s a bowl – conjured by owner David Gunawan is a precise jumble of textures and flavours. Springy shimeji mushrooms, torched daikon and spoon-tender, sake-marinated sablefish come together with a splash of smoky apple dashi. Digging in is a sort of black magic.
The carrot risotto on Gunawan’s season-driven menu is another good illustration. A creamy bowl of golden-hued rice is studded with poppy English peas that have barely been touched. It’s drizzled with brown butter and topped with crunchy buckwheat and a salsa verde made from carrot tops, giving the meatless dish a bit of nose-to-tail cred. Gunawan, sporting a “Smoking Kate Moss” T-shirt he claims to have borrowed from his girlfriend, carries the bowl to the table with a humble shrug.
Dish of the Year
The Farmer’s Apprentice chef de cuisine, Jack Chen, breaks down this winning combination, described on the menu simply as “snow peas, new potatoes, harissa, crème fraîche, coffee.”
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The chef’s stage at Belgium’s In De Wulf during a recent European sabbatical might explain his pastoral romanticism. But his Indonesian and Chinese heritage pushes the cooking broader. The crucial antidote to the sting of the Szechuan vinaigrette on the brisket and tripe salad is served up in a glass – a Belgian-style saison, brewed locally by Four Winds. As with a good puzzle, the ultimate pleasure comes not in intellectualizing why each piece fits, but in finishing.