Jimmy Stewart harnesses the wild at Blacktail Florist restaurant

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      Just so we’re clear, Blacktail Florist (200-332 Water Street) is not, in fact, a florist. There are some lovely floral arrangements ornamenting the walls and tables at this restaurant, which opens Wednesday (April 2). You may even find some beautiful edible flora on your plate, care of chef and co-owner Jimmy Stewart, but you won’t be able to buy a bouquet of flowers here, if that’s what you’re after.

      The restaurant is in the old spot of HousexGuest (McLean’s Restaurant and So.Cial at Le Magasin before that). Craig Stanghetta, the design brains behind some of Vancouver’s most beautiful dining rooms—Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, Homer Street Café, Ask for Luigi, and PiDGiN—is responsible for Blacktail Florist’s transformation. HousexGuest was dark and den-like, filled with taxidermy, skulls, and candelabras. You won’t find a trace of that here. The room is now light and airy, mainly made of wood and glass, and minimalist in décor—a clean palette for showcasing Stewart’s food.

      Stewart was raised in North Vancouver. He started as a dishwasher at West Vancouver’s Savary Island Pie Company, before earning his chops at CinCin, Lumière, Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, and the Michelin-starred Ledbury in England. Stewart was the sous chef at Whistler’s Bearfoot Bistro when Food Network Canada called. While his Top Chef Canada experience may have been short-lived, his enthusiasm for food and fearlessness towards experimentation was documented and memorable.

      The menu at Blacktail Florist is largely about showcasing B.C. ingredients. “Hidden gems and wild seasonal products are thoughtfully composed in innovative ways and handpicked foraged edibles are respectfully prepared and plated,” states the restaurant’s press materials. What this translates to is mushroom caps stuffed with kale and cured duck; endive leaves filled with salmon belly, crispy shallots, dill, and topped with pop rocks; cucumbers, hollowed out and filled with yogurt, lemon verbena, and crispy pigs’ ears.

      Dishes are best shared. Nine small bites ($2 to $12) include the three described above. Three meat options ($12 to $14), such as chicken and squash over a bed of creamy white corn, topped with pickled roots and spicy herbs, are balanced by four vegetable dishes ($8 to $11), which includes roast cauliflower with cheese sauce, licorice-flavoured herbs, and pickled cucumbers. Four fish and seafood dishes ($12 to $15) showcase B.C.’s salmon, halibut, scallops, and Humpback shrimp.

      A short cocktail list is maintained by Connor Gotowiec, previously of Clough Club and the Union Bar. Adam Mayhew, who worked with Stewart at the Bearfoot Bistro, is in charge of the wines and the room.

      Blacktail Florist is open Wednesdays to Sundays for dinner. A 30-seat patio will be open in the summer.

      Right, so perhaps you’re still wondering about the name? Blacktail Florist is a yin-yang of sorts. According to the restaurant, Blacktail is a type of West Coast deer and “represents the masculine spirit”. Florist, meanwhile, evokes flowers and organic growth, “symbolizing the feminine”.

      Some dishes on the menu below, photographed at a media preview of Blacktail Florist.

      Cucumber, yogurt, lemon verbena, and crispy pigs' ears.
      Michelle da Silva
      Salad of spring vegetables and mushrooms.
      Michelle da Silva
      Asparagus, foraged mushrooms, smoked cream, and mustard.
      Michelle da Silva