We’re Number One: Published on Main

Being named Canada’s Best comes with a lot of new expectations and pressure! Wicca and I enjoyed our visit to Published on Main last summer (4-part recap on Instagram here, here, here, and here), and I hoped to show a small group of friends a bit of that same excitement. For the most part, this was a good visit with attentive but not overbearing or rushed service, and a slightly lagging kitchen at times, but being named #1 you expect every dish on the menu to be firing on all cylinders…

You’d think that after winning Canada’s 100 Best, that Published would be packed to the gills, especially on the weekends. While reservations are indeed booked solid for the next couple months, they do leave a portion of the restaurant open for walk-ins. We were able to easily get a table for 5 at 5:00pm (opening time) on a Friday after they seated the groups that did have resos. And since this is Vancouver after all, I imagine that you’d have little trouble getting in on weekdays, especially at off-peak hours.

We sat at one of the small round 4-tops near the front. It was comfortable enough for the five of us because we’re small people 😅. Our server smartly paced our dishes so that no more than a couple dishes were on the table at one time.

I’m always open for skin/orange! 2020 d.b. Schmitt Frei Korper Kultur Weiss ($16) was dry, fruity, and crushable yet complex.

A friend’s PG-13 ($11) non-alcoholic cocktail made with pineapple, mango, star anise shrub, and egg white.

Roasted Fiddleheads ($21) with a black sesame gomae and toasted hemp hearts. Good but not that exciting. I could’ve used more of that black sesame stuff though!

[Someone DMed me saying that Burdock & Co’s fiddlehead dish is much better 😉.]

Brussels Sprouts ($18) with charred brussels sprouts, “pecan tasty paste”, apple, and more pecans on top. This one pleased everyone thanks to the “tasty paste”, which looked like refriend beans and had a similar texture. The brussels sprouts were shredded. The apple element did not register, so I’m not sure where it was supposed to be. The char was also on the light side… I know this isn’t Crowbar (RIP). Despite those niggles, this was still a delicious, crowd-pleasing dish.

Tasty paste is the new Soylent Brown.

Æbleskiver ($18 for 3, we added 2 more). These are savoury Danish donuts stuffed with stewed herbs and served with fresh herb emulsion. The pan used to make these looks like a Japanese takoyaki pan ⁠— in fact the process of making these is almost the same, down to turning the balls with sticks.

Tastes like a deep fried pancake. Firmly savoury territory. In addition to the herbs, there were pine nuts and goji berries inside. The fresh herb emulsion tasted green (herby & chlorophylly) but while nicely thick, it only had light impact on the palate. Still, a fun and tasty dish.

Four Winds Saison (6.5%) – $7 for 10 oz. Restaurant beer pricing is always 🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑 haha……sigh…

Green Harissa Cauliflower ($19) with raisin & caper condiment (hidden in this photo).

Another hit, especially cuz of the raisin & caper condiment hidden underneath the well-roasted cauliflower ⁠— they might’ve even just deep fried the cauliflower??? Beautiful colour on it, regardless. The green harissa was a great element too.

Is it me, or have the dishes here become really edited or stripped down since when they first opened? I love it when every element serves a purpose and doesn’t fight or mask other elements, but some dishes can get precariously close to “meh” (e.g. the fiddleheads dish). This cauliflower dish, however, is everything it needs to be.

Chicken Fried Maitake ($22) with garlic scape ranch. A killer dish I also had last year, which was a bit too salty then but is perfectly seasoned now. One of those perfect dishes for an elevated restaurant ⁠— uses fancier, more chic and special ingredients but pays off in a delicious and accessible way.

Mortadella Stuffed Morels ($30) with “turbo cheese sauce” 🤣. Is that a high performance cheese? (link to Facebook video of Top Chef Canada judge Mark McEwan saying “high performance cheese”. More info on exact episode here. Possible origin of the phrase here.)

On paper this sounded amazing but it ate a bit too heavy, with the mortadella detracting and distracting from the morels. And with the rich cheese sauce, it became too heavy to enjoy without some fresh acid to balance it out. Get yourself an acid-forward beverage with this one. Or even a low-rent wedge of lemon would help tremendously.

This year’s BC Fire Morel dish with sopressini (“open purse”) pasta sounds great though. Last year, I very much enjoyed the BC Fire Morels with garganelli pasta (like a hand-rolled penne shape) and garlic scape pesto. That dish showcased the morels better than this one.

Prawn Toast ($27) with Malay-style prawn sauce. This was a dud, especially after having  an amazing shrimp toast made with BC sidestripes at Avling in Toronto and a good one on the seasonal menu at DD Mau. The prawn sauce was runny, didn’t cling well, and lacked the beautiful and critical blobs of flavourful oil (as shown on the Published menu photo) that usually dot or flood the surface of great Malaysian curries . The prawn paste was very wet and separated from the toast easily. Even when reassembled, it ate with little of the excitement and flavour that prawn toast usually brings. Minor niggle: no perilla/shiso, which is also shown in their menu photo. I can’t even fake a smile for this one.

Jaegerschnitzel ($44) with burn morel jaegersauce. AFAIK burn morels are like “fire morels”, morels that grow in the aftermath of forest fires like a delicious edible silver lining. I loved being able to taste the morels in their full glory in this dish as opposed to the mortadella-stuffed one. The schnitzel was well-fried but the sauce was thin and sparse, which really hurt this dish’s full potential and impact.

Smoked Wild Sockeye Salmon ($43) with elderflower butter sauce and potato dumplings. Yes, one of us ordered a salmon dish. But this dinner wasn’t all about me, and that’s ok.

This was actually a really good salmon dish. We couldn’t tell that it was smoked, which was perfectly fine by us! I loved the colour on the potato dumplings.

This is the point where the kitchen started to get bogged down with a 30 minute gap between our mains and dessert, but it was peak time (7-8pm), so it’s understandable.

Chocolate ($12) with valrhona manjari chocolate panna cotta with peanut butter semifreddo and banana sorbet. I did not partake but Wicca says it really came together excellently. Delicious.

Caramelized Yogurt ($12) with black currant sorbet and candied sunflower seeds. I again did not partake but the rest of us talked about the contrast between the very tart sorbet and the yogurt worked well.

The complimentary stuff ($0) you get at the end. People loved the caramels.

We were able to order nine dishes in total, and split between the five of us, it came out to $56 per person — totally reasonable. Good responsive service. They didn’t rush us.

I do want to go back to try that other morel dish, and get more Chicken Fried Maitakes all to myself. There was also “tater tots with caviar” on the feature menu so I might have to go back sooner rather than later. That I want to go back is always a good sign.

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