I have a special place in my heart for Edgemont Village.
It's in the neighbourhood I grew up in, after all. So - like others who love the charming little commercial district side-angled into the base of the North Shore mountains - I have high expectations for any business that sets up shop there.
Which is why I was thrilled to learn late last year that chef Scott Kidd was moving in.
Kidd is a storied chef in this town. Long before it was trendy to love local, Kidd was doing it; his passion for homegrown ingredients began along with his culinary career at Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island. He did his formal training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and worked in some of Vancouver's finest kitchens: Le Gavroche, The William Tell, Bishop's, Raincity Grill, Araxi in Whistler and most recently Lift.
According to the opening release, Canyon is "the essence of Scott Kidd; a partnership with his wife Helen Sheridan and his journey through culinary life . . . the cuisine focuses on local products, of course, some old style favourites, Kidd's legendary use of bits otherwise known as offal and, of course, new items inspired by his new location."
The menu is certainly broad (starters $4-$14; mains $16-
$30 for the feature). No corner of the globe is left untouched, and much of it comes together with ingredients sourced locally. There are French classics like foie gras parfait and Bourguignon-style beef shortribs; and Italy gets more than a passing nod with antipasto, risotto, pasta and osso bucco. There are bangers and mash from the UK; South Asian curries; sake kasu black cod and spicy albacore sashimi from Japan. A Canyon burger and fries carries the flag for the home team, as do buck-a-shuck oysters.
We decided to start there. Despite the bargain-bin menu moniker, these were quality bivalves, so $1 each is a steal.
We ordered 12 of the medium-sized, plump and creamy shellfish. They were best with the citrus and horseradish accompaniments; the soy condiment was too strong and salty for the mild-flavoured oysters. We also dug into the pork belly starter: fat, crispy cubes of pork with scallops and capers.
We checked out the room while we ate. It's small, and I'm not a fan of the recent trend to squeeze as many tables side-by-side as physically possible, but the space is otherwise well used. Details are thoughtful - soothing golden browns, textured rock behind the bar, spherical light fixtures, and a mirrored wall to make the space appear larger - they all add interest.
The staff work it well too; they move easily through tight quarters, keeping waters filled and menu questions answered . . . except one. When I asked where the swordfish on the menu came from my server didn't know, and he didn't offer to find out. It's not an obscure question. Diners are increasingly savvy and want to know where their food is coming from. Swordfish is tricky; depending on the fishing method it is not always considered a sustainable catch. If a restaurant isn't part of the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program (which assures diners that its seafood is sustainable), then staff should be knowledgeable about sourcing.
I ordered the day's feature instead: a plump tenderloin of perfectly medium rare beef tenderloin atop thick, layered potatoes with bacon. No light dinner for me. My dinner date, Big J, opted for duck confit: a fat duck leg cooked in fat, it arrived so soft and succulent it fell from the bone.
One of my favourite things about Canyon is the wines-on-tap program. Quite new to the Lower Mainland, the Fresh Tap system delivers wines by the glass from stainless steel kegs. The wine is kept fresher, there's no spoilage or corking, and there's less packaging and waste. I had a glass of bright berried Haywire Crush Pad Red, while Big J had a Philips IPA pulled from the beer tap next to it. We finished with a tasty sweet and salty combo: chocolate budini and salted caramel gelato ($7).
Including HST, our bill added up to $105.84. Canyon is located at 3135 Edgemont Blvd., North Vancouver; 604987-8812, thecanyon.ca.
. . .
Want to give Fresh Tap a try? Vancouver Urban Winery is home to the city's distribution system, and also has a winery licence that allows tasting.
Don't go hungry - there are only snacks available - but the capacious eastside warehouse has plenty of options for sampling tasters and flights of wines.
Vancouver Urban Winery is at 55 Dunlevy Ave., Vancouver; 604-566-9463, vancouverurbanwinery.com.