As the weather gets cooler and the sky gets darker, there's nothing like sitting in front of a fireplace grazing on warm comfort foods like French onion soup, poutine, pasta, and burgers. There's also nothing like going out to dine and not having to clean up after yourself once your belly's full and your mind is relaxed.
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro (2741 West 4th Avenue) has given Vancouverites yet another excuse not to do the dishes this winter. The cozy Kitsilano restaurant opened in June with executive chef Mike Robbins in charge of producing a taste of Canadiana. Robbins, who started cooking when he was 16 and spent five years in the Glowball Group's kitchens, told the Straight that he wanted to develop "Canadian bistro" cuisine, using local, sustainable proteins and produce.
"The idea of a bistro started in France back in the day, and it was the whole idea of people inviting civilians from the streets into their homes for dinner as a secondary income. So I'm trying to build on that—a homey, Canadian, comfort feel—and doing kind of the traditional French bistro but the Canadian way," Robbins told the Straight by phone.
The room, which is managed by owner Mike Shea and general manager Amy Wheatley, also has a distinctly Canadian feel—a lot of wood, exposed brick, plaid-upholstered seating.
On Thursday night (October 20), I had a chance to try out a few items off of the Oakwood's dinner menu and inspired by its weekend brunch menu—done bite-sized—during the restaurant's opening party.
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro's cozy, wood-filled dining room.
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro owner Mike Shea, general manager Amy Wheatly, and executive chef Mike Robbins behind the bar.
Albacore tuna topped with a red onion relish. Albacore tuna is on the Oakwood's brunch menu in the Albacore tuna Niçoise benedict ($10).
A bite-sized beet and goat cheese salad ($11), which is served on the dinner menu with roasted organic beets, brûlée goat cheese, walnuts, garlic chips, and a balsamic vinaigrette.
Butternut squash soup with blue cheese foam. A weekly soup and sandwich is featured on the Oakwood's weekend brunch menu ($10). Meanwhile, the French onion soup ($7) is on the dinner menu.
Maple-glazed pork belly ($11) with apple puree, pork crackling, and fennel salad.
Dungeness crab tortellini ($12), typically served alongside an apple fennel salad with brown butter emulsion.
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro is open for dinner Tuesdays to Sundays and brunch on weekends.
You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.