Meditations

Gastropod: Everything Sounds Better in Latin.


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I’m a bit of a science nerd. So, when a friend invited me to dinner at a new restaurant called Gastropod, I was somewhat taken aback. The word gastropod translates literally as ‘stomach foot’, which, you’ll have to admit is not particularly appetizing. However, there are some tasty gastropoda out there – snails and abalone come quickly to mind – so I figured the restaurant was worth a try.

Located on 4th Avenue just beside Maple, Gastropod is certainly a trendy affair. With stark white walls and European-looking wood furnishings, the room would not be out of place in Wallpaper magazine. The staff were all dressed in matching, custom-designed uniforms, and looked like they might have walked out of a 1960′s airline commercial. All around, I found the room a bit too bright, and a bit too sterile. Brightly lit does not always equate to well lit.

Let’s talk about the food. I’ll admit now that nothing I ordered came in a shell. Indeed, thinking back, I can’t remember if there was even an escargot to be had on the menu – but it may have been something that I simply over-looked. I ordered the fennel risotto and a nori-wrapped salmon dish.

The risotto was, quite simply, divine. The texture was rich without being too heavy, the fennel flavour was full and delicious, while shaved daikon added a crunch to an otherwise soft texture. One trick I have tried in the past with risotto is to fold in some whipped cream right before serving. I suspect this might be the secret to this altogether exceptional dish.

The risotto proved a tough act to follow. Though the salmon – wrapped in nori and fried tempura style – was very good, it didn’t stand up against the starter. I suppose we can hardly blame the chef for making his smaller plates too darned good. Everyone at our table seemed to enjoy their meals, and I’d certainly like to try some more of the menu offerings.

The wine list seemed thorough, the staff were friendly, and the food was very good. Now if only they’d turn down the lights…

Gastropod is located at 1938 W. 4th Avenue in Vancouver, BC, 604-730-5579. http://www.gastropod.ca

UPDATE: Gastropod has since closed.

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