Sherman's Food Adventures: Bishop's


If you have paid close attention, I've been trying to revisit some of the most iconic restaurants in the city.  Have I run out of new spots for my latest food adventure?  No, there will always be the latest and greatest.  Rather, I've been influenced heavily by Mijune as she has remarked that restaurants change chefs and menus frequently, so a post about a restaurant can be out-of-date as soon as less than a year.  Now trying to eat at some of the most expensive places in town on a schedule every year might be hard on the wallet, so it isn't really all that practical.  Let's just say that I'll try to hit them more often than I've done before.  Sometimes, this is easier when there is an invite and this was the case when Mijune and I sampled the new menu from Chef Kai Leitner, who has been at Bishop's since August 2019.

To begin our feast (and it is always a feast when eating with Mijune), we had a rather large amuse bouche in the Chicken Croquette.  It was lightly crispy on the outside and consistent temperature throughout.  It was smooth and creamy on the inside with a cheesiness that was further enhanced by the spiced tomato sauce underneath. Stunningly plated, the Seafood Salad was a bounty of treats including diver scallops, side stripe prawns, kusshi oysters, mussels, clams, sea urchin and crab, dashi gelee, ocean and field greens.  If there was ever a plate with all my favourite seafood items prepared expertly, this would be it.  What brought everything together was the gelee as it was impactful enough to add a subtle sweet fishiness as well as a wine finish.  It wasn't too strong as it let the natural sweetness of the seafood come through.  The crab salad was texturally a delight and was probably a preview to the chilled whole dungeness crab on the menu.

Onto the Winter Squash & Okanagan Apples which was impressively presented and equally delicious.  Appealingly charred, the squash was smoky and nutty with the natural sweetness completely activated.  Interestingly, it was served cold and although this might've muted the flavours a touch, the resulting texture was spot on as it helped retain some firmness.  The array of apples helped add crunch and tang.  Although the warm walnut vinaigrette was the perfect compliment to the ingredients adding a nutty acidity, we would've liked to see more walnuts for textural purposes.  Completing the dish was a topping of creamy goat's feta.  Amongst the tasty dishes we'd had so far, believe it or not, the  Bread was pretty good by itself despite its plain appearance.  2 slices were parmesan while the other 2 were rosemary (served with nori butter).  Loved the crustiness of the exterior giving way to the fluffy insides.

The progression from seafood to squash was the perfect setup for the heavier Wild Boar and Cruciferous with confit boar belly, textures of cabbage, bacon pear vinaigrette and manchego cheese.  Tender and meaty with literally melt-in-our-mouths belly, this couldn't have been executed any better.  The bacon pear vinaigrette added the usual bacon essence combined with the subtle sweetness of the pear.  Interestingly, we could see the manchego, but it was more of an added texture than layer of flavour.  Propped up by rocks, the Razor Clams were served with mint and basil pesto, sunchokes and almond, essence of seaweed and chili.  With a buttery rebound, the sweet clams were perfectly prepared.  Although there was a host of complimentary ingredients, none of them overwhelmed the clams.  In particular, the almond provided both crunch and aromatics.  Loved the light hit of spice from the chili as well.  Although, I would've liked to see a more muted seaweed salad underneath as the wakame was a little strong on the sesame oil. 

One of my favourite dishes was the Crab Ravioli with clams, mussels, olives and tomato sauce.  Although the pasta wasn't super thin, it was still thin enough being ever-so-delicate with an al dente chew.  The crab filling was fluffy and sweet.  The large honey mussels and manila clams couldn't have been more plump and tender while the tomato sauce was definitely in the background allowing the delicate seafood to do the heavy lifting. Continuing on in a similar theme, we were presented with the Sunchokes and Gnocchi with roasted sunchokes, watercress, parsley Parisian gnocchi and mustard.  Although the gnocchi was a bit bigger than the typical Parisian-style, it was spot on in terms of texture sporting pâte à choux.  This meant each nugget was fluffier and lighter than the traditional Northern Italian gnocchi.  Although it was coloured a brilliant green from the parsley, it was not bitter nor tasted like parsley, which was probably the intent.  Perfectly contrasting the soft pillows, we found crunchy roasted sunchoke chips.  I'm sure you noticed the shaved black truffle on top, which did its earthy thing while the mustard seed added pops of tang to compliment the smooth sunchoke puree underneath. 

Exquisitely-prepared, the Lamb Saddle and Carrots featured the most tender lamb I've had in quite some time.  It looked so rare, that I originally mistakened it for the venison.  It was accompanied by carrot cumin puree, flageolet beans, leeks, essence of sumac and lamb jus. Interestingly, the firm beans were the second best thing on the plate (after the lamb), as the bite was appealing and there was a sweet smokiness to them.  Naturally, the sweet and Earthy carrot cumin puree complimented the lamb beautifully.  Now about that Venison (and Pear), it was equally well-prepared.  With such a lean cut of meat, it can be difficult for it to be tender.  However, it was cooked just enough that the meat remained moist.  Normally, we see vension paired with berries of some sort, but the use of pear with its subtle sweetness really worked (with both a pear glaze and also poached pear).  Adding some saltiness, the bacon chestnuts worked together with the jus to balance off the pear.

Onto the sweets, we had something that didn't look like a dessert, but I assure you that the Bourbon & Sunchoke was not an appetizer.  Yes, it sure looked like one with crispy sunchoke on top of bourbon ice cream.  For me, this was really good since I'm not into super sweet anything.  Although the ice cream itself was on the gummier side, it was smooth and lightly sweet.  The crunch from the aromatic and earthy sunchoke not only brought texture, it really made this an easy-to-eat dessert (didn't need to worry about drinking water to balance off the sugar).  Next, the Apple Fritter with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream was not what we expected.  Rather than chunks of apples in batter, we found a whole apple ring battered and fried.  This was actually really good and due to the addition of the other ingredients (including cinnamon sugar), it tasted exactly like apple pie.

The featured dessert for the night was a Raspberry Sorbet covered in chocolate dust and strawberries.  As pretty as this plate appeared, sadly, the sorbet underneath the semi-sweet dust was pretty much all melted.  It could've been partly our fault as we took some pictures before we dug in.  Flavours were good though as there was a balance between the sweetness and tartness of the raspberries.  From that, we had our favourite dessert of the night in the Chocolate Tart with dark chocolate ganache, chocolate cream and creme anglais.  Everything about this was executed properly including the firm tart shell.  Smooth, rich and not very sweet at all, the ganache featured a beautiful sheen and a good hit of chocolate with a minor bitter finish.  On top, the chocolate cream was airy and light while also being only semi-sweet.

A classic meal-ender at Bishop's is the iconic Sliced Apple (I had a pear last time).  Great knife skills and best of all, very refreshing from the tang and crunch of the fresh fruit.  However, this was not the last thing we had.  Mijune wanted to have it all (like she always does) and we used what little room we had in our stomachs to try the Almond and Sea Salt Ice Cream.  On top of the ice cream there was a almond espuma, toasted almond, fleur de sel and olive oil.  Due to the salt content and the restrained use of sugar, this didn't really eat like a dessert.  In actuality, we paired it with the chocolate tart and it was delicious!  Loved the crunch of the almonds and the creaminess of the espuma.  Ice cream was similar to the bourbon we had first where it was on the gummier side rather than being creamy.

To completely finish the meal, we were presented with Petite Fours consisting of chocolate truffles and fruit jellies.  Also, we had some Popcorn on the side as well.  From the dishes we tried, it is apparent that Chef Leitner is attempting to modernize the menu at Bishop's while still paying homage to tradition.  I've always held Bishop's in high regard for John Bishop's attention to detail and hospitality.  His restaurant is one of the true iconic fine-dining institutions in Vancouver.  There is nothing here to gloss over what is important - exquisitely-crafted food, dining room filled with class and top-notch service.  Yes, there are flashier spots out there that may satisfy a different demographic, but what gets lost is the actual food.   

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Careful execution of proteins
- Restaurant is all class
- Restrained sweetness for the desserts

The Bad:
- Some ingredients repeated often
- Ice cream texture could've been firmer


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