It was late last year when a couple friends introduced us to Absinthe Bistro on Commercial Drive, a favourite spot of theirs, here in Vancouver. While the French eatery has been around for a few years (albeit originally in a different location), for some reason we'd never made it there before, and this now fills us with regret. It's SO GOOD!
The place is the result of, well, a 'Canadian-chef-meets-Colombian-marketing-pro-in-Paris' situation, and we should consider ourselves lucky that Juliana and Cory Pearson opted to eventually put down their roots here in town.
The place is quite the charmer. Juliana's warm demeanor and spot-on service is a nightly master class in hospitality, while Cory's firing-on-all-cylinders kitchen offers French classics spun with West Coast fare.
Like many restaurants nowadays, they've been doing take-out, and that's what we opted to do the other night. Our friends chose the food (think things like Foie Gras Torchon w/ Red Onion-Apple Confit, Beef Carpaccio w/ Truffle Aioli, Parmesan, Capers & Arugula and Pan-Seared Sablefish w/ Spring Vegetable & Garlic Chive Risotto), and we brought the wine.
We decided to support the home team and go with British Columbian wines, and stick with super-small, independent producers.
Lock & Worth 2018 Whole Cluster Chardonnay is incredibly juicy with fresh lime, crunchy Granny Smith apple, and a good smattering of thyme. This wine is so bright and ALIVE; while it's tasty on its own, it really hit the spot with our starters, cutting through that foie torchon with ease.
For our mains, which also included Braised Pork Cheeks w/ Apple-Diable Sauce, Fried Potatoes, and Celery Root-Red Cabbage Remoulade (YUM!), we opted to go for a couple reds, both from Okanagan producer Anthony Buchanan.
Anthony Buchanan 2018 Pinot Noir 'Ashlyn' was de-stemmed, both partially foot-trodden and punched down, then wild-fermented over a couple weeks before spending just under a year in a mix of new, second-use, and neutral French oak. That oak offers a little toasty gingerbread, which in turn provides a nice platform for dusty red and black plums, flinty mulberries, and a smattering of anise.
Anthony Buchanan 2018 Syrah 'William Dean' is whole-cluster foot-trodden, wild-fermented over a couple weeks, and saw similar oak treatment as the Pinot, with a little American wood thrown in there, too. Gobs of peppery black fruit drench a good hunk of smoked beef brisket with the tiniest kiss of spearmint lifting the finish. Damn fine wine. Damn fine.
So there's your to-do list.
Hit up Absinthe for some amazing eats (they just reopened dine-in, too). Then make a point of finding Lock & Worth's Chardonnay (~$30 at private stores such as Brewery Creek), then track down Buchanan's Pinot and Syrah at private stores around town like Firefly on Cambie, where they retail for $42. You can always contact the wineries to find out further availability near you.