We just returned from an evening at Restaurant Hawksworth. While the first year at Hawksworth demanded that we suspend our disbelief a bit, the brilliant chef who so impressed us at West appears to have re-emerged. After six or more meals that left us with mixed feelings, the tasting menu we marched through during tonights visit met our hoped-for expectations and more. Chef Hawksworth appears to have liberated himself, offering a series of new dishes on both the a la carte and chef's seasonal menus that we largely had not seen in our earlier visits, and we found no flaws.
Our set menu began with a subtle citrus-cured fluke "amuse bouche" followed by a jalepeno infused tuna tartare for me and a seared scallop with an apple dressing for my wife. The scallop dish starred. Then a light Thai-style broth decorated with artichoke filled ravioli (fabulous) and delicate side striped prawns. The menu shifted toward France with a truffled poached egg and guanciale combination and then a light veal loin with spring vegetables, sour cherries and crispy gnocchi. For dessert, a chocolate and ice cream combination with more cherries. All in all, a very successful walk through the kitchen's creative energies, all very much tuned to the season. The food was satisfying, and we walked away without feeling distressed by too much food.
Beyond the menu, the wine list continues to grow and impress, so much so that it is tempting to sell the family jewels. But we settled happily for a half bottle of Fevre Chablis and another half of Rioja.
Someone recently complained that Hawksworth came up short on its hamburger. Really? For hamburgers, try the Tomahawk or the burger at La Brasserie on Davie! The correct question is whether Hawksworth can live up to its ambitions as a culinary destination in Vancouver. I would not say that Chef Hawksworth has completed the journey quite yet, but tonight's visit certainly is very encouraging.