To find a really good restaurant via the Internet, you must first evaluate the evaluators.
When I’m looking for a new place to go, I, like most people, scan online reviews. The trick is learning how to interpret peoples’ biases. Many casual reviewers are self-centered and careless with their opinions. On the other hand, professional food writers often jump on the praise bandwagon when writing about highly acclaimed eateries blessed with numerous awards.
So what should people do? Because written opinions range wildly, my method is to look carefully at photos of the dishes, trust my intuition, cross my fingers and hope for the best.
Hawksworth Restaurant is often named the best fine-dining spot in Vancouver, B.C.
Last year, my distinguished old professor from college days came to Vancouver, B.C., for a conference and invited me to lunch with him and with the director of Bill Reid Gallery. My task was choosing where to eat, and I wanted to be sure the venue fit the occasion. After searching the Internet I decided on Hawksworth Restaurant, often named the best fine-dining spot in the city.
Chef David Hawksworth’s upscale restaurant is mostly a place for business meetings and folks celebrating special occasions, but will also be comfortable for casual diners. Its ambiance is pleasing; the well-appointed dining room has high ceilings, crystal chandeliers and expansive glass windows that showcase views of the stately Vancouver Art Gallery and its sweeping stone steps and crouching lions.
The bar is stocked with hard-to-find spirits, and the expansive wine list is presented by confident, approachable stewards.
I’ve dined at Hawksworth twice more since that first visit. Overall, their food is quite good. Lunch dishes like seared Japanese squid tossed with chopped peanuts, nashi pears and a chili vinaigrette; delicate, local sea bream with crispy skin; and a grilled beef burger with apple wood-smoked bacon and aged cheddar on a housemade sesame seed bun, are all tasty and well prepared.
Dinner entrees are delicately seasoned and cooked just right. The roast saddle of lamb with couscous, fava beans and smoked carrots, as well as the charred Wagyu flank steak with chickpea, beef neck panisse, charmoula, sunchokes and yogurt, are both beautifully plated with many interesting greens, root vegetables, herbs and spices.
The desserts - crème catalan with yuzu and crispy rice, coconut chantilly with pineapple and passion fruit, and rich dark chocolate with peppermint and cocoa nibs - are all lovely, have playful flavors and intriguing textures.
The bar is stocked with hard-to-find spirits like Suntory Hibiki 17, a revered Japanese whiskey; and the expansive, well-chosen wine list is presented by confident, approachable sommeliers.
The efficient, friendly, and smartly dressed servers enhance the entire dining experience.
Before reserving a table, take a look at my food photos and trust your instincts; but I don’t think you need to cross your fingers.
Address: 801 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, B.C.