John reviews Connor Butler –
On Thursday night, July 31, 2008, we chose to continue our anniversary celebration by booking a table at Restaurant Connor Butler, a small, relatively new (2 years old) restaurant just over the Granville St. Bridge south of downtown Vancouver.
Since we had booked on the early side, there was lots of opportunity to interact with both the sommelier, Ron Douglas, and with the chef, Connor Butler himself.Â It was just the start of an extraordinary evening, rivalling our earlier experience at Cyrus in every respect.
We started with an amuse-bouche which included, among others, an anchovy-stuffed sour cherry, which was quite good.Â The others I cannot recall.
Chef Connor was interesting, engaging and animated.Â He said he had some items not listed on the menu: foie gras and duck.Â Intrigued by the notion of duck and duck, we asked if he could prepare a foie gras appetizer and a duck main, and that we preferred items savory rather than sweet.Â And, we would like Sommelier Ron to pair wines for us.
After another bit of amuse, a slice of nicely seared tuna, the appetizers arrived.Â The foie was accompanied by sauteed purple potato dice, small bites of bacon and morel mushrooms in a simple pan reduction.Â The result was astounding, and this time the morels were in perfect balance (see previous review of Fireside Grill).
Ron brought three wines to sample: an Alsatian Gewurztraminer, a German Riesling Spatlese, and the sweetest, a French desserty wine.Â In the end, we went preferred the last one, since it most resembled the traditional Sauterne in terms of sweetness and viscous texture that we like with foie gras.
The main course was seared sliced breast of duck, served with potato puree, garnished with a few sour cherries, citrus supremes, and pickled golden beets.Â This was incredibly tasty: the best-cooked duck we’ve ever had, with the potato puree retaining its identity rather than merely dissolving into the pan jus, as sometimes happens.
Ron paired this with a BC Pinot Noir that did justice to all the flavors on the plate, from the succulence of the duck to the vegetal acidity of the beets.Â
We finished with a plate of three delicious cheeses from Vancouver Island (where, perversely, Victoria IS and Vancouver IS NOT).Â We followed this with a stint at the bar drinking cognac and grappa and chatting with the chef and the sommelier.
Couldn’t have been better.Â (John: A+, Mary: A+)