Botanist, Vancouver.

October 2017.

This looked tempting, written up by a local professional blogger and appearing to feature meat dishes with egg on top, which I can never resist. It turns out to be a superficial retread of Oru, the restaurant in the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel. Not really an awful lot has changed except the name – we even had the same German waitress. But somehow the food and the feel of the place is down another notch or two with the sad passage of time, and not all that much time.

Bored neutral young ladies indistinguishable from previous welcome us: “So how has your day been so far?” Well, it wasn’t too bad until…

The menu is abbreviated, and I don’t think the wine list we saw at Oru is still around either, although we did get a few minutes’ attention from a young lady sommelier who turned out to be Russian. I got the beef tartare with egg on top as starter, Robin had the steamed mussels which had been featured in the blog we looked at, and we shared their “wagyu” hamburger.

There was nothing special about the tartare. I like to feel that somebody has gone to some trouble to get really good beef and flavour it with some special ingredients. The egg was nicely fried, but the beef was ordinary in my mouth. Things improved a bit spreading the meat and egg on the dry grilled bread provided, and Robin’s mussels were afloat in a very flavorful steaming liquid.

Everybody around here has gone nuts over wagyu this year. Carpaccio, tartare, hamburger, pasta. Having spent enough to hire a downtown lawyer on a genuine wagyu steak in Tokyo, fried it in a pan and been transported by its lipid-loaded magnificence, I’m not finding the same thrill this side of the Pacific when people call meat by the the magic W-word. The burger was almost completely unadorned, and tolerable only because we asked for the brioche bun rather than the “pretzel” that we feared would be palate-scrapingly hard. The fries were fair.

Looking around I felt the décor which we kind of liked two years ago had slipped a bit. Sitting like the gentleman I affect when I am out for a meal with my darling, facing a window and wall to give her the presumably better view of the rest of the room, I was looking at a structural concrete cylinder which had been dressed in off-white and gold-metallic tack with 70s style fake ivy climbing it. The poor German lady helping us was falsely strident and the little Russian sommelier too eager to share personal details. Prices were about the same as before.

Unless you are staying in the hotel and have mobility problems you should go somewhere else for lunch.

Food 7.3, service 7.0, ambience 6.0, value 6.5, peace and quiet: 8.0 only because the place was empty.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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