L’Abattoir is arguably one of the most solidly creative and award-blessed restaurants in British Columbia. Lee Cooper is the soft-spoken chef with a boyish demeanour who not only grew up in the restaurant business, but flourished in it.
As a young man he worked in his dad’s A&W franchises in Nanaimo, a city in the heart of Vancouver Island, learning systems and the adrenalin rush that is so much part of the industry. His uncle, Bernard Casavant, is one of the icons of Pacific Northwest dining…there could be no better mentor or, for that matter, no better student. He worked for both Rod Butters and Chef Michael Allemeier in Kelowna’s increasingly hot restaurant scene before heading to England at The Fat Duck.
On his return he opened L’Abattoir and was influential in the rebirth of the entire Gastown area of the city in the heart of what was once the meat-packing of the small community of Granville.
With the name L’Abattoir, the food follows with many French influences and the menu changes often.
There may be pan-fried veal sweetbreads on toast with pickled shallot, sauce gribiche with veal tongue or another menu staple to try is the roast duck with orange and lavender honey, strawberry, chicory and thyme – the garnishes change seasonally to make the best use of what’s available .
Lee honours his Vancouver Island roots with many perfectly prepared seafood dishes. Basted fillet of Pacific halibut, spring vegetables, carrot nage enriched with butter or confit wild spring salmon with radish, sesame, dashi butter sauce. A long time favourite is the baked Pacific oysters with whipped garlic butter.
For dessert, amongst a carefully selected roster of deliciousness that also changes seasonally, there’s Apricot kernel bavarois with buckwheat, honey, stone fruit.
Sitting at the bar, it’s a cross between magic and chemistry with an array of small glass vials of various elixirs and potions. The cocktail program has been a destination for enthusiasts with some of the city’s most talented bartenders at the helm since the day they opened their doors. A range of classics to modern favourites, they have also created some of their own one dubbed Avocado Gimlet and another, the Gastown Swizzel No. 5 that guests come from all over town for.
Food Day Canada 2018
Grilled BC Octopus
Harissa, Cucumber, Potato
Howling Bluff ’16 Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, Okanagan Valley, BC
Octopus is from FISH
Cucumber From UBC Farms
Buena Molata Pepper from Zaklan Farm
Lindzer Potato from Nutrient Dense Farm
Fermented Honey Glazed Duck
Cherry, Turnip, Jus Gras
Martin’s Lane ’14 Pinot Noir ‘Simes Vineyard’ Okanagan Valley, BC
Whole Duck from Fraser Valley
Cherries from Hazelmere farm
Honey from Hives for Humanity Vancouver
Turnips from UBC Farm
Apricot Kernel Bavarois
Buckwheat, Honey, Stone Fruit
Tantalus ’15 Riesling Ice Wine, Okanagan Valley, BC
Apricots from Hannah Brook farm
Dairy from Meadow Fresh
Honey From Hives of Humanity Vancouver
Edible Flowers from Nutrient Dense Farm
Contact L’Abattoir at the number below to reserve your Food Day Canada table.
Contactez L’Abattoir directement, au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre Journée des terroirs réservation.
217 Carrall Street,
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2J2
Photography by Hamid Attie, Vancouver