Chambar is one of our favorite restaurants in Vancouver, and it's where we often go for a special dinner before an event. This time we were going to Hal Willner's Neil Young Project, and I was forward-thinking enough to have made reservations a month or so beforehand because downtown was absolutely crazy and crowded that night. There was an Olympic hockey game featuring the Canadian men's team, and the city and the restaurant were hopping.
We were led into the back room of the restaurant, which is a lot more spacious and which has a great deal more natural light than the restaurant's main room. The room is lovely, with large windows, solid wood tables, and leather-like banquettes along either exposed brick wall. On this particular night, they had a giant screen set up with the hockey game.
We began the meal with some mixed olives ($6). The black, green and red olives arrived on a elegant long serving plate, mixed with caper berries, and topped with a tangy sauce of sundried tomato. Strongly tangy and briny, the olives really whetted our appetites.
Shane ordered Le canard aux epices ( Spiced Duck -- $29), and this arrived on a large square plate, the elements arranged beautifully. There were 3 thick pieces of pink duck breast, a couple of pieces of sauteed , caramelized apple, pureed butternut squash, and a glistening tamarind sauce. Everything was impeccable and delicious. The duck was incredibly tender with spicy cinnamon flavours, and the puree was buttery and utterly smooth on the tongue. The tamarind sauce was unexpected and surprisingly tangy and savory.
I ordered what I usually order at Chambar, the mussels Congolaise ($22). This arrived in a large covered black pot, and the mussels were cooked in a tomato, coconut milk, lime and smoked chilli, and topped with cilantro. The mussels were well cooked and tender, though they weren't as large as I've had there in the past. The star was the broth--this was delicious, and I just sipped it up like soup.
Of course, accompanying the mussels was a side of fries, which arrived in a small bowl. They were crispy and golden brown.
By the end of our entrees, we were full, but we decided to try the dessert tasting platter ($20). These were: basil sorbet, vanilla pot de creme, raspberry tart with lime sorbet, and chocolate mousse. These were indulgent and outstanding. The highlights were definitely the basil sorbet, which was refreshing and unusual, and the rich and light chocolate mousse.
In addition to the platter of desserts, the dish also came with a selection of truffles: raspberry truffles, and a dark chocolate one. These were the perfect ending to a delightful meal. Oh, that and the shootout goal, that is....!
(a very special thanks to Allison and Mary, the best people to be around!)