Archer’s Westberry Farms Hive dessert. (photo by Diane Tucker)
Opening several weeks ago, just in time for winter holiday festivities, Archer restaurant is the newest contribution to Vancouver’s fine dining scene from restaurateur Iain Bell, a member of the Jewish community.
Located at 1152 Alberni St., near Bute, the intimate West Coast vibe of the interior perfectly complements the inventive farm-to-table menu created by executive chef Sandy Chen, whose culinary chops include winner of B.C. Chef of the Year and Chef of the Year in the Canadian Culinary Federation national culinary competition. Working together with Chen is director of operations Clement Chan, whose credits are equally as impressive: chef/owner at Torafuku, contestant on Top Chef Canada and Team Canada member at World Culinary Olympics. Their team is ably completed by pastry chef Kiko Nakata and executive sous chef Siosian Tora.
Full disclosure, Iain and his wife Delaina are good friends and a group of us met to enjoy an evening of conversation and great food. We decided to sample the Chef’s Choice menu, as it seemed the best way to test the varied and enticing fare. This menu is available at a cost of $80/person for 10 shared dishes or $120/person for 12 shared dishes, plus tax. The offerings were small plates with local, fresh ingredients.
The burrata and endive salad, featuring warm burrata cheese, roasted beets, greens and toasted walnuts finished with a miso dressing, was my personal favourite. Another pleaser for me was the beautifully presented – in a smoke-filled glass terrarium, filled with objects reminiscent of a West Coast beach on a foggy day – Kusshi oysters on the half shell. The briny taste explosion, enhanced by sour apple, Ikura and miso mayo motoyaki, hit my palate and completed the sensory experience.
Many other shareable courses later, all artfully presented, our group of six argued contentedly about our choices for top three dishes. With consensus reached, in no particular order, the three were: the salmon crudo, local salmon flavoured with compressed jalapeno, black coral, pinakurat coconut nage and topped with a castelvetrano crouton; the dill and coriander chicken wings; and the Westberry Farms Hive, a visually stunning dessert consisting of a meringue hive filled with Westberry Farms blueberry compote, dotted with yuzu curd and lime and Tahitian vanilla crème.
If a tasting menu is not your thing, then the sable fish en papillote with baby zucchini and kabocha squash comes highly recommended, as does the tempura-style rack of lamb with candied shallots. Since the menu changes regularly – remember it’s all about fresh farm-to-table availability – I recommend that you dine here and find your own personal favourites.
The wine list is varied with several wines available by the glass. There is also a decent cocktail and beer menu. Reservations are recommended and can be booked by calling 778-737-6218. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 5:30 pm. Visit archerdining.com.
Leanne Jacobsen was the Jewish Independent’s sales director for more than 25 years and she continues to be an occasional contributor to the newspaper.