If you live in or around Vancouver, British Columbia, you should definitely go to Tapastree Restaurant. If you don't live nearby, get on a plane and go to Vancouver!
Tapastree is in Vancouver's West End, just off Denman on Robson. It describes itself as tapas style cuisine with an international and West Coast influence at an affordable price. To that I would add warm, elegant and welcoming.
Pat and I recently went to Tapastree, along with my brother and his wife. On the advice of our waitress, Alejandra, we ordered two dishes each, and then couldn't resist adding one more item. We couldn't resist finding out how scalloped potatoes were made at a tapas bar. Turns out we we right to add them to our meal. In all we had:
- Roasted Beet Salad with Chevre, orange and hazelnuts
- Tomato, Bocconcini and Avocado salad with fresh basil
- Beef Carpaccio
- Sautéed Wild Mushrooms on toast with goat cheese
- Seared Ahi Tuna with Ponzu and Hot Mustard (you can find the recipe on their website here)
- Seared Scallops with caponata sauce
- Buttermilk Fried Chicken with spicy aioli
- Flat Iron Steak with peppercorn sauce, and
- Scalloped Potatoes
The food were presented beautifully on white china, one or two dishes at a time. Each was a taste adventure, although sometimes our preconception of the food differed from what was actually served. For example, Pat's expectation for the Beet Salad was with sharper, more distinct flavors. I found the subtlety of the ingredients combined to make a wonderful dish.
The Beef Carpaccio was a thrill. In these days of ultra-concern over serving raw meats, carpaccio and tartar have both suffered, either being cooked medium rare, as was the case with the carpaccio I had at a restaurant in Regina some time ago, or prepared like ceviche, like the steak tartar on board the Emerald Princess. If the meat is properly handled, there is little concern over serving it raw. At Tapastree it appeared to be beef tenderloin, quickly seared to kill any surface bacteria, sliced thinly and then pounded tissue thin. That is the way to make carpaccio, with fresh ingredients and careful handling. Near perfection!
Dish after dish, the food was excellent. And, as Pat noted, the atmosphere was alive with tables of two, three or four diners enjoying their evening. Maybe it is something about sharing dishes tapas style that encourages people to talk about the experience. Whatever, the place was buzzing with people having a great time.
Tapastree is a must on my list for anyone traveling to Vancouver.
Oh, and the Scalloped Potatoes? Not your usually tapas fare, but rich, cheesy and delicious. If I can figure out how to duplicate them, they may become a new comfort food.
1829 Robson St., Vancouver, B.C.