Oh, You Fancy, Huh?

First of all, lets hear it for the bargain. I like a sales rack. I scour the internet for the right deal on my Louis Vuitton luggage. I’m the idiot that reads those flyers at Whole Foods to see which kind of sustainable balsamic truffle mustard or whatever they’ve got on special that week. I bring my own kobe beef hot dog to the movies surreptitiously stuffed in my purse. And I only spring for first class on the plane if I’m in dire need of a nap, darling.

Same goes for restaurants. In all seriousness, I so love a food truck binge, a sneaky happy meal at McDonald’s, all-you-can-eat anything and a Brazilian meat buffet, even if it does give me the pork sweats. I’m happy if I’m fed, period. But, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are things I cannot cook at home, and meals so special I would happily pay top dollar and/or spoon the chef’s nephew who works at a prison just for a plate of something extraordinary. Great food is sometimes worth it to me.  I know there are some of you out there that cannot fathom paying the equivalent of a Smart Car for a 13 course tasting menu, and I get it… We just won’t ever get each other. (Or date each other, haha, I’m not joking.) Because to me, food is art. Delicious, beautifully crafted, perfectly seasoned art.  And holy moly if I haven’t found Vancouver’s Mona Lisa.

It’s called Hawksworth, and it’s the new love of my life.  We’ve established it ain’t cheap, and she doesn’t look cheap, either. Chandeliers, ivory leather booths, elegance and refined simplicity, beautifully coiffed, the Grace Kelly of dining rooms if Grace Kelly secretly knew how to party. Waitstaff glide by silently and attentively, polite and knowledgable but never pushy, noses refreshingly in-joint.  The sommelier doesn’t blink when you ask him to pair a white with your steak, and then somehow blows your mind with the perfect pairing beyond your wildest drunken dreams. Its atmosphere is quiet and stoic enough for a business dinner, but dripping with romance for a special anniversary.  It even has a sexy bar for relaxing over a cocktail on a Friday evening after a stressful work week, or for meeting a first date you’ve got a really good feeling about. Guys, I cannot get enough of this one.

Besides all that, she’s got the goods to back up the pretty, too.  Chef David Hawksworth not only won Vancouver’s Chef of the Year in 2008, he’s a bonafide member of the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame. His whole MO is local, sustainable, and the highest quality you can find, and by god can you ever taste it in every single dish coming out of that kitchen.  English pea soup with lobster, a take on popcorn chicken that’s actually veal sweetbreads and bone marrow breaded and deep fried to crispy little animal bits, sablefish roasted in soy and served with pork dumplings… If you’re in the bar, there’s Korean fried “KFC” cauliflower to snack on, a beautiful plate of in-house made charcuterie, and a delectable cheese and bacon burger with thick-cut salty fries to go with that new outfit you picked up at Holt’s down the street. Desserts sound simple but are expertly crafted and so complex, a rich chevre and apple cheesecake with toasted walnuts, a stunning plate of soft and sweet macaroons, and my favorite, “the banana”– a true work-of-art dish compiled of a decadent milk chocolate and banana-filled tarte, banana sponge toffee, praline mousse, roasted peanuts, and a dollop of banana sorbet.  It’s so good I want to kill someone.

Highlights from my last meal there, or anywhere else for the time-being if my date’s I mean my wallet can handle it (I joke! I kid!):

The special that evening, soft shell crab tempura in a spicy soy XO sauce that almost made me lose my mind
The special that evening, soft shell crab tempura in a spicy soy XO sauce that almost made me lose my mind
The freshest little pan-seared spicy scallops with green apple puree and endive leaves
The freshest little pan-seared spicy scallops with green apple puree and endive leaves
Salty-sweet duck breast served with a brown butter jus and a little duck-stuffed crepe on the side just cuz why not
Salty-sweet duck breast served with a brown butter jus and a little duck-stuffed crepe on the side just cuz why not
GORGEOUS melt-in-your-mouth-what-is-going-on stripling with onion rings, potato cake, and some magic crack sauce I could have drank out of a thermos
GORGEOUS melt-in-your-mouth-what-is-going-on striploin with onion rings, potato cake, and some magic crack sauce I could have drank out of a thermos
and "The Banana" in all its glory. Just look at it. LOOK.
and “The Banana” in all its glory. Just look at it. LOOK.

 

True, maybe Hawksworth should be left as a special occasion place.  Maybe I get a little cray-cray on how much I’m willing to fork out for a delicious meal (that striploin was $40, just so we can be straight-up here).  Or maybe we should all aim to treat ourselves and make special occasions less infrequent. Why are we waiting for that job promotion to celebrate in life? Or the ten year anniversary when maybe it would be nice to spring for a classy meal with your classy lady “just because” every once in a while? Life is too short not to enjoy ourselves. I’m not saying rob a bank and buy a yacht and become a super cool pirate renegade, even though that would be, like, the best. But please don’t be afraid to live a little. Try new things. Get gussied up and treat yourself to a great meal. You kind of deserve it, dude.

Also, just as a PS, be super careful with that hot dog in your purse because that can go sideways real fast.

 

XOJBS

 

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Shiva says:

    I completely agree on the less frequent, yet stupendously delicious dishes that one remembers for decades. I’m afraid there aren’t too many such places in Vancouver that can make that claim.

    I had the good fortune of finding a table (more importantly, a wonderful lady to share the experience with) on Valentine’s this year, and it was quite the experience.

    1. Chad says:

      Haha, I love it! A special someone is not necessarily more important than magnificent food, though, I remember when a buddy and I discovered the Pompadour in Edinburgh. He was on about, “This food is amazing! If I only had a special girl to share it with…” and the waiter interjected, “You don’t need to take a lass someplace THIS good.” Well, perhaps if she’s a real Jewel.

      I’m sure George Bernard Shaw said something like that.

  2. Natalie says:

    I still have yet to visit Hawksworth, surprisingly. It’s on my go-to list. Perhaps I can go for my birthday this Sunday… hmm. Must talk to people.

    Pics look fantastic!

  3. Yvonne says:

    Oh My!! That is edible art! Would love to try it some day. After a look at the menu, prices are not that bad for what I would consider an experience in addition to a fine meal. Now on my must do list next time I am in N.W. USA / S.W. Canada area. I am more then willing to go out of my way to have a new foodie experience.

  4. David O' Houston says:

    You’re the perfect date for a movie. You stuff food in your purse.

  5. OldDogVT says:

    I have (or used to have until they changed owners … for the WORSE) a place like that here in Vermont. In Warren, waaaay up the Sugarbush Ski Area access road. It’s called The Common Man. It was my go-to place to take women I wanted to impress, or just have a “meal as an event” night out. I even had my own secluded table for two (kind of) and a tab. Professional waitstaff (not silly-ass college kids with a part-time job) and sommelier. Professional maitre-d’ (actually one of the owners), and a chef/partner from Switzerland that had a way with veal … to eat and die for. Local Vermont EVERYTHING, adapted to the seasons. Alas, it burned down, the two partners tried a rebuild and re-boot, but they gave up, and now it’s turned to shit. I envy you Hawksworth.

  6. LindaP says:

    “magic crack sauce I could have drank out of a thermos” That is a visual image that made me laugh out loud!!

  7. Christian says:

    So, that’s a softshell so far removed from the Gulf Coast. Chica, have you been to New Orleans? You need to put it on your foodie bucket list. Softshell crabs galore.

  8. Greyson says:

    So Hawksworth’s tonight? Pick you up at 7? Then bank robbery-fueled yacht piracy in the morning?

  9. SteveD says:

    “Why are we waiting for that job promotion to celebrate in life? Or the ten year anniversary when maybe it would be nice to spring for a classy meal with your classy lady “just because” every once in a while? Life is too short not to enjoy ourselves.”

    Absolutely 100% agree – Sod waiting for a special occasion, instead make every day special and enjoy it to the fullest!!!

  10. Salena says:

    You are my sister from another mister. I am a bargain hunter to the core, but that’s so I can afford to occasionally buy lobster on a threadbare budget. I heart you, Jewel!

  11. Loxy says:

    Have you been to Kits Daily Kitchen? It’s no Hawskworth. But the 6 course, $65 tasting menu is one of the best deals in this town.

  12. Toby says:

    What a beautiful piece of writing. You truly have a gift. Now I wish I were at home cooking instead of sitting on this bus.

  13. Jan says:

    Good food is the root of civilization. Why did people start to settle down? Because they did not want to eat just what they ran into, but to grow, what they considered especially tasty.
    Why did people start to domesticate animals? Because those animals were tasty or good at hunting even tastier animals.
    Why did people start to write? Because that way they could make ambitious plans for hunting the tastiest of all animals.
    Why did people start to measure time units smaller that days? Because they wanted to know how long a piece of mammoth tenderloin took on the fire to be most delicate. Ok, maybe not.
    My point is: Nobody ever has to justify themselves for spending money on really good food. Mankind has been through much more on the quest for tastiness.

    Hawksworth is on my list now, in case I ever make it to Vancouver.

  14. Kerim says:

    Just experience life one fork or spoonful at a time. What a great way to go through this journey we call life. Yummy stuff there JBS

  15. Misti says:

    I think you may be my soul mate. If that’s true, then don’t miss a chance to eat at Bo London when you’re in town http://bolondonrestaurant.com/
    The black truffle XO har gau are the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. Ever.

  16. holly says:

    Jewel –

    Your Food blogs are to die for, the pics just make my mouth water! (now am gonna go have a pimento cheese sandwich) but next payday, i think i will treat this single girl to a nice dinner, cause like you said – I deserve it!

    thanks,
    love you always –

    holly

  17. David Papa says:

    Love Hawsworth…usually sit at the bar, I think it’s prices are decent … great Bourbon selection

  18. Dom says:

    That looks amazing.
    I want “the banana”! (Not a phrase I say often.)

  19. NP says:

    Sounds like, a much fancier, version of Take Root: http://take-root.com/ in Brooklyn. Next time you are in New York you should give this small local business a taste. It is definitely worth the price.

  20. marky kirk says:

    mmmm must pay more attention to oyur posts. Having said that as Vancover is about 4708 miles away prob exercise in frustration. still looking for perpspective as to what constitutes expensive my fav eatery has tatsing menu and wines to match and comes out about $350 for two is that pricey?

  21. Jason says:

    Jewel –

    That food looks mind blowing. Try going to Joel Robuchon’s restaurant at the MGM Grand. The meal will run you about the same as you would pay for small car. But I would happily get into that car and run people down just to have a small bite again! I can not even put into word how great that meal was, it was magical.

  22. Andy says:

    Finally got to eat at Hawksworth — food was great but was left with a bitter taste when the bill came; not for the amount of money, which was expected, but that $400 apparently did not include the water we didn’t drink (we were drinking wine, natch!). Didn’t you call out another restaurant for charging for water?

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