June 25, 2022

Truffle lavender duck at Bruno Restaurant & Bar at Versante Lodge, in Richmond, B.C., on Monday, February 28, 2022. Darryl Dyck/The Globe and MailDARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Title: Bruno

Location: Versante Lodge, 8499 Bridgeport Rd., Richmond

Telephone: 604-242-2750

Web site: versantehotel.com/style

Delicacies: Opulent West Coast sharing plates

Costs: Dinner: small plates, $12 to $38; giant plates, $28 to $32; platters, $58 to $215; full-board expertise, $125 an individual (two folks minimal). Seafood brunch: $59.

Extra info: Open each day for breakfast, weekday lunch, weekend brunch and dinner. Reservations really helpful. No takeout or patio.

At round 9 p.m. on a current Saturday night time, the dinner friends at Bruno burst into spontaneous applause.

They weren’t clapping for govt chef William Lew, although lots of his dishes, introduced on driftwood platters and beneath billows of smoke, are extremely theatrical.

Or the suave service from common supervisor Alessandro De Pieri and head waiter Ricardo Buyayo, who spins across the flooring with arm twirls, heel kicks and the assured pizzazz of a Las Vegas showman.

And even the truth that Bruno, positioned within the new boutique Versante Lodge, is Richmond’s solely upscale Western restaurant of notice now that the Origo Membership is closed.

The dinner friends have been clapping as a result of the blazing overhead lights had lastly been dimmed, casting welcome shadows into shiny corners and making the white-lacquered room look rather less like a cafeteria.

Bruno Restaurant & Bar at Versante Lodge is lit like a cafeteria.DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Lodge eating places have the hardest job. Bruno, like others, is attempting exhausting to be many issues: fine-dining vacation spot, daytime hangout for locals and accessible eatery for lodge friends (serving breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch and dinner). On high of all this, Bruno faces the problem of appeasing Chinese language customs whereas additionally being approachable to a wider clientele.

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The lighting problem will be chalked as much as cultural variations. Chinese language eating places are sometimes brightly lit as a result of Chinese language folks take pleasure in eating in a vigorous, loud, joyful ambiance. In Cantonese, the phrase for that is yeet lau, which, roughly translated, means sizzling festivity.

Bruno, positioned in essentially the most Chinese language metropolis on this planet exterior of Asia, should accommodate these preferences. And this new lodge, which is adjoined to the Worldwide Commerce Centre, is owned by the Changzhou-born, Vancouver-based property developer Michael Ching, who in all probability has lots of his personal preferences besides.

That stated, traditions are altering and a few of the diners applauding that night time have been truly Chinese language.

There are different meals points at Bruno that may’t be so simply defined.

Bruno doesn’t name itself a farm-to-table restaurant. That is in all probability solely as a result of all eating places are attempting to keep away from that drained phrase nowadays. However its advertising and marketing supplies do prominently reference “the affect of native farms and meals artisans that provide its elements” and a want to “showcase the perfect of British Columbia” in every dish.

And Mr. Lew, who was beforehand chef de delicacies at Notch 8 within the Fairmont Vancouver Lodge, is unquestionably attempting to make visceral connections from tongue to terroir together with his inventive plating – some extra efficiently than others.

Native oysters, farmed close to Mr. Ching’s coming lodge developments within the Comox Valley, are introduced on a kelp-draped log anchored to the plate with edible sand constructed from dried nori. (For now, I’ll gloss over the very fact the XO mignonette, which incorporates neither dried seafood nor Jinhua ham, is absolutely only a chili crisp, not an XO sauce.)

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Truffle lavender duck (properly cooked however barely powerful and puffy, doubtless as a result of the Fraser Valley duck isn’t natural) is a wealthy, foie-gras-spackled ode to the glamping domes on Mr. Ching’s Cortes Island lavender farm, served in a picnic basket.

Stanley Park is a nickname for The Iberico Tree, an elaborate show of hand-carved Cinco Jotas Bellota ham, hanging from slender branches planted in candied hazelnut soil with Neufchâtel tartlets tucked in a lofted nest. (This one is attempting means too exhausting.)

Bruno’s Iberico tree is attempting a bit too exhausting.DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

So why is a kitchen deeply dedicated to the native bounty and sense of place providing tasteless inexperienced tomatoes (on the in any other case properly textured fall burrata salad) and white-bellied strawberries (on cakey, pre-cooked Liege waffles served at brunch) in February?

There isn’t any justification for any respectable restaurant, it doesn’t matter what it calls itself, to have these elements (most certainly sourced from Mexico and California) on plates proper now. And Mr. Lew, who’s the previous Ocean Sensible chef for its sustainable seafood program, ought to know higher.

Bruno is attempting exhausting, very exhausting, to impress with its tableside razzle-dazzle and luxurious elements. A few of it’s fantastic. The kurobuta pork stomach, introduced beneath a smoking glass lid, is superbly marinated in Asian aromatics, deep-fried for a crackling shell and glazed in sticky black garlic whereas nonetheless scorching. Flakey, pull-apart croissant scrolls, flecked with rosemary and pecorino, are irresistible, particularly when paired with a facet of brûlée foie-gras butter.

Scroll Loaf with bržlee foie gras butter is a spotlight of Bruno’s menu.DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

However in its apparent try and seize the Instagram era’s consideration, the kitchen misses a few of the fundamentals. The risotto, folded with uni, topped with king crab and bejewelled with ikura, is overcooked and delicate.

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On the lavish seafood brunch (an distinctive deal at $59 with non-obligatory buck-a-shuck-oysters), the English muffins for eggs benedict are chilly and untoasted whereas the salmon-lobster topping is pulverized right into a mush that appears prefer it got here out of a can.

There may be potential right here, however for now it feels superficial. Very similar to the lodge itself, which options dramatically designed rooms with enormous soaker tubs enclosed in their very own heated bathe rooms, however no sound-proofing, robes, sizzling water (it took 10 minutes to warmth up within the morning) or room service.

I had a a lot better expertise at Cask Whisky Bar, which could be very dimly lit and positioned subsequent door within the commerce centre. And I’ll write about that quickly.

However there are one other three eating places opening subsequent door. Mr. Lew is overseeing all of them. This isn’t only a lodge, it’s a fancy. I’m afraid he may be stretched too skinny. I hope he has a whole lot of assist, as a result of I’d hate to see him booed off the stage.

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