When I asked and was told that no one working at Folke was vegan, I was skeptical. I mean, how could they know? It's like when I used to hope that the chef preparing my sushi was Japanese! Yet, it was not far into our meal that I was converted into a true believer (not in a MAGA way, God help us) and came to realize that the kitchen crew had to be of the utmost dedication and creative ilk. After all, a chef at a seafood restaurant can take a fat fresh scallop and turn it into a masterpiece with nothing more than a bed of Hollandaise and a bit of caviar (of course, someone had to murder it first) (Hah! I'm working on my militant vegan chops and I think 'murder' nailed it, don't you?). Anyway, a chef at Folke decides to take the humble delicata squash and turn it into a masterpiece but needs to employ some serious chef stuff to make it pop at the same level. That's what they do at Folke! BTW, obviously, the clientele at Folke includes vegans but generally all people who appreciate the chef's craft and fine dining!
Located on West Broadway just west of Arbutus, we made the trek from Aldergrove and arrived at 6 pm to an empty restaurant, exposing us as the country hicks that we are! We had a reservation though! By 7:30 or so when we left, the place was close to full so do make that reservation. We decided to go with the Tasting Plates menu option with some dishes on and some off the menu and the chefs preparing what they feel is appropriate. The small tasting plates came regularly delivered by the chefs themselves who provided detailed descriptions that we often got lost in. As a result, my descriptions below in some cases may be simply reduced to, "Yum!". Trust us on that!
First up was sourdough bread grilled and topped with zatar, an assortment of amazing and unique pickles and compressed melon with Youzu. This was the first of several times that we heard the term compressed. If I understand correctly, the item is placed in a vacuum bag with marinade and sealed at 100% for a period of time. It is a method of profoundly infusing a flavour and it certainly works. Details already escaped me here like the nature of the dip for the bread (I believe it was walnut and bell pepper based) but everything here was so flavourful. We thought checking the set menu would help us but even that tends to be a little minimal. Just enjoy instead of obsessing!
The chef referred to this as Cabbage or maybe Beet Carpaccio (I think). There was some serious smokiness and some amazing house-made crackers....Yum!
Agedashi Eggplant was a beautiful dish that turned out to be even more delicious than beautiful. The mushroom broth that forms the foundation here was loaded with savoury mushroom flavour while the eggplant went through a series of processes before deep frying. It was hot and slightly crispy and not like any eggplant that we have had before.
Our chef remained calm while I drove him crazy with questions about lettuce root (celtuce, I think). These were Dumplings, of the Vietnamese variety and therefore a little on the chewy side (they are supposed to be), filled with mushrooms and maybe XO. The broth was basically ponzu and the greens were komatsuna. Do you see why I was confused? Yum! Very subtle but amazing!
I think that this is right off the main menu, Carrots. Chicory, barley, bagna cauda and I don't think I ever expected to be so obsessed with barley...or carrots! By this point in the meal, I had managed to slow myself down and savour every bite and each bite was stupidly complex considering that we were basically eating our vegetables! I think that might be the point.
The delicata squash that I eluded to earlier, made its appearance here. Young and fresh enough that we ate the shell (is that what we call the outside?), I didn't expect that. Pear (possibly compressed ?) with poblano and pumpkin seed and a sort of guac of the two, I guess this was the Mexican dish. This was one of our favourites although...
Then came the pasta. Of course, they make their own. With romano beans, fennel and a sort of garlic crumb topping (which I think showed up somewhere before ), we did not yearn for parmesan. Nothing is like house-made pasta, except they are not using eggs here!
We are not huge dessert people but this could change us forever! A compressed Nectarine (good for dessert all by itself). This was a creme brulee type thing but I think it might be disguised as Nectarine on the regular menu....is that possible? Concorde grape took us by surprise at the bottom of the pie. A nice brittle sugar topping, and anise coming from somewhere! Amazing!
Comfy enough but not too elaborate, it seems appropriate for a high-end restaurant that doesn't serve oysters or caviar! All the wait staff were attentive and checked in on a regular basis and seemed enthusiastic about what they offered. If you are wondering the Tasting PLates is $75 pp. Notable is the fact that this is a no-tip zone as they pay their staff a livable wage. Nice! I hope this catches on! Both the vegan and the liveable part! One of our favourites and we will be back!
Food 5 out of 5
Vegan Options 5 out of 5
Comfort 5 out of 5
Service 5 out of 5
Value 5 out of 5
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