David Hawksworth Unbuttoned: First Look at Nightingale

Everyone knows about Hawksworth, the multi-award-winning upscale restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, right? I’ve actually never been there! More generous relatives have brought their families there and quite enjoyed it, but I’ve never step foot in there. An old boss of mine remarked that dining there is actually a good value! I thought, “WTF?! Maybe in your gated community mentality it’s a good value, but… I think you’re not paying me enough, then!”

Thankfully, David Hawksworth has opened his more casual and accessible share-plates restaurant Nightingale last week. Prices are about 1/2 to 1/3 cheaper than Hawksworth, with a focus on pizzas. Can’t get more casual than pizza! Are you ready for a taste of David Hawksworth unbuttoned?*

* Wicca actually came up with that phrase. I was thinking up tortured stuff like “Hawksworth with his two top buttons unbuttoned” and “Hawksworth rolling up his pants, going sockless, and wearing fashion sneakers.” Gah.

DISCLAIMER: As usual with these early “First Look” reviews, take everything with a grain of salt. It’s only been a week and I’m sure it’ll take more time before the team gets into a rhythm and gets to know that pizza oven and it’s quirks. But early impressions are good! Service was good and dishes were timed well.

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Lunch Quickie: Smokehouse Sandwich Co. (Downtown Location)

The original Richmond location of Smokehouse Sandwich Co. has a big following and I’ve been meaning to try it for a couple years. They opened up a more convenient downtown location back in March but I was actually reminded this week about it from three different sources: a really cool dude posted a SocialShopper coupon for it on Facebook, and two different trusty Instagrammers posted their sandwiches over the past week. That black charcoal bun really stands out!

TLDR: I wanted to like it more than I did. Underseasoned meat, brisket sandwich was dry, but good chips and strawberry & mint drink.

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Hip New Vietnamese with a Price Tag to Match at Anh + Chi

Price isn’t usually that much of an issue for me unless something jumps out — and jump out it did when I took my family to the new Anh + Chi in the old Pho Hoang space on Main & 18th. I don’t mind paying more for a commensurate increase in quality, technique, freshness, and service…but I’m not sure that what I ate justified the increase in price.

TLDR: Average food with hints of greatness for a premium price.

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Chicken Run: Fresh Fried Chicken at King Chicken (BAGOCK!!!)

Dedicated fried chicken places are actually hard to find in Vancouver proper. There’s the famous LA Chicken and Red Rooster Broasted Chicken in Richmond, but in Vancouver it’s mostly chains like Church’s and KFC. Korean independents like Lee’s Chicken are long gone. Enter King Chicken located on Broadway and Rupert, next to Sushiholic. Is there anything different that these guys bring to the table?

Note: this place is not affiliated with King’s Chicken (née Lee’s Chicken) in Surrey.

Note #2: I forgot about Zabu Chicken, the Korean place on Robson. I haven’t tried it yet, but might be an interesting comparison since Zabu also does a straight-ahead plain fried chicken in addition to their Korean-style sauced fried chicken.

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Local BC Spot Prawn Sashimi with Deep Fried Heads. Cuz it’s awesome.

In the 80s and 90s, my parents used to go to Richmond and buy bags of fresh prawns to boil up and eat with Maggi sauce mixed with sesame oil. When I was older, I’d realize that what we were in fact eating spot prawns! So the big hot local sustainable BC seafood product of the last decade or so had always been part of our family. 😀

Spot prawn season just started yesterday, so I bought some fresh live ones for myself. I went to The Fish Counter on Main St. (beside Portland Craft) and they had a tank of them. Besides great fish & chips, they also sell sustainable Oceanwise seafood. I’ve bought sidestripe prawns from here before, and they tasted pretty good sashimi-style. How would ultra-fresh BC spot prawns compare? Well…our local sidestripes are good but these spot prawns (only available a couple weeks out of the year) are fantastic! If you love that crunchy texture and clean, sweet taste of raw prawns, then you should get some spot prawns fast!

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Dinner Quickie: Poutine & Craft Beer at Poutinerie Jean Talon

Poutinerie Jean Talon is the newer sister restaurant of Cafe de L’Orangerie (review here) that specializes in poutine. They just had their one-year anniversary and put on some anniversary specials like $3 craft beer for a week (until May 8, 2016). That was music to my ears so I checked them out. The place was empty at 6:00, so I think this place really flies under the radar. I didn’t even know about it until I was in the area to go to Harkness & Co Butchers.

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