Since we are now eating vegan in the "7th most popular city in the world for vegans" (Chef's Pencil), we thought that it was about time that we ate at the "best vegan-friendly restaurant in the world" (Big 7 Travel) which is located in said 7th most popular city in the world for vegans. It is sort of a pinnacle, isn't it? Although on the one hand, I worry that it will be all downhill from here, on the other, I know that we will never really enjoy our food less after this just because it comes with fewer accolades!
Located at 24th and Main, The Acorn is open for dinner only and you will want to make a reservation. Although the small restaurant was fully occupied (according to the rules) and seemed a little bit crowded, we felt safe as they are as serious about social distancing as any place that we have been in recent history.
The Acorn offers a three coarse dinner for $49 per person which as you will see, is very reasonable considering what they put together. We still opted for a sharable starter in addition. This was essentially pumpkin with lobster mushroom 'fish sauce' vinaigrette, hazelnuts and a taste of cayenne. It was our first amazing moment of many. Delicious! The menu lists the ingredients for each dish in exhaustive detail which felt a little annoying and confusing at first but as we got into our meal, we found ourselves referring back to the menu as "Oh my God, that was amazing! What was that exactly?" moments came.
Mharie's first course was called Romanesco. It was cauliflower in 5 forms with a goat gouda fonduta (her meal was vegetarian but not vegan) and a lemon leaf vinaigrette. I didn't even realize there were 5 kinds of cauliflower (including the romanesco) nor 5 ways to prepare it. Grilled, pureed, pickled etc., the result was that each bite was different and needed to be savoured and appreciated.
I started with the Shitake. If I understood the menu, 2 types of shitake mushrooms prepared 3 ways (including a house-made X.O. sauce) with leeks, kelp and lemongrass! The surprising combination of textures and flavours made us very happy. The kitchen likes to use pickling which cuts through the richness of other elements to provide a balance.
Mharie's main course was called Corn and featured house-made pasta. The pasta was not surprisingly very good and was supported (or the other way around) by radicchio, garlic, chanterelles, preserved corn, buffalo ricotta and something called crosnes. This is also known as Japanese artichoke and the root was pickled for this dish. We did not isolate this ingredient at the time but we're convinced that everything contributes to the whole.
By ordering the Brassica, I did not initially realize that I was ordering the barbeque plate! Buttermilk ranch slaw, burdock molasses-baked navy beans. maple syrup collard greens and sour pickles were the give away (and all a step above the usual and perfectly fine barbeque sides) but the Savoy cabbage and quince were the stars here. Brined, rubbed and smoked, and served with Kumbuccha barbeque sauce (which was more than a little piquant), we would never have expected the cabbage (which in no way mimics brisket or any other barbequed meat) to be such a perfect 'viande'.
For dessert, I had Peach. Peach and a sort of peach tuile over Gin and peach sorbet and served with sorghum popcorn. Another dish where each detail was an enjoyable surprise.
Mharie had one of the day's specials, western larch tip and squash ice cream topped with squash pearls, oat crumble and candied jelly tooth mushrooms. Wow! As you probably have been able to tell, the creativity in the kitchen here is on a different plane from our usual forms of sustenance. They have proven once and for all, that a big old slab of meat is not necessary.
Small, romantic and dimly lit (made photography challenging and I came close to walking into plexiglass) this is a very nice space. Service is very good and our servers were quick to answer our many questions. The Acorn should definitely be on your bucket list whether you are vegan or not.
Food 5 out of 5
Comfort 5 out of 5
Service 5 out of 5
Value 5 out of 5 (did you know that you can pay $200 for a steak in Vancouver?)
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