Sherman's Food Adventures: Fairmont Pacific Rim 10-Year Anniversary Tasting Menu at The Botanist

Fairmont Pacific Rim 10-Year Anniversary Tasting Menu at The Botanist

Before the Covid-19 shutdown of things, Mijune and I had the Botanist's 10-course tasting menu celebrating the Fairmont Pacific Rim's 10-year anniversary.  This featured all of the restaurant's greatest hits.  For those who aren't familiar with the Botanist, it is one of the better hotel restaurants in town.  In fact, I consider it to be one of the best restaurants within Vancouver period.  That is saying a lot when people do not normally consider hotel restaurants as destinations in themselves.

To kick things off, we were served the iconic (yes, even with the youthful age of this restaurant, the bread is iconic) Fougasse Bread.  This time around, the bread was much better than the last time I had it.  Rather than being too hard, it was firm with a pleasant chewiness and baked nuttiness.  The side of fresh whipped butter didn't hurt either. I would've asked for more, but there were many other delicious dishes to come.  For our amuse bouche, we were presented with Northern Divine Caviar with cultivated cream, potato and tapioca pearls.  To be honest, I was rather surprised that they used tapioca pearls as it wasn't something I would associate with caviar.  However, it strangely worked with the buttery soft pearls and tender potato.  Lots of cheesiness from the cream brightened up by the chives.  This was balanced dish that allowed the briny caviar to stand out.  Loved the lemon rind on top as it afforded a bright and bitter finish.

At first, I was a bit skeptical of the Beet Tataki since I really wanted a beef tataki. Well, it was very prejudice of me to think anything but tastiness for this dish.  In addition to the tender earthy and sweet slices of beet, there was crispy sunchoke bark, pickled onions and vegan XO sauce.  Yes, you read it right, vegan XO sauce.  You know what?  It was spicy and flavourful despite the absence of dried scallops, ham and dried shrimp.  This dish hit all the flavours and was one of my favourites.  Shaped into a beautiful flower, the Scallop Crudo was a delight.  The buttery petals of scallop were sweet and super delicate.  This was contrasted by the crunch from the winter radish. There was a smokiness from the torched edges while the fermented jalapeno added a spicy tanginess.

If this couldn't get any better, it was kicked up several notches with the Handmade Tarajin with Hokkaido sea urchin, cured egg and chives.  By virtue of sitting in a veal and lobster broth, the dish was the beneficiary of flavours from the sea being sweet and aromatic.  Pasta was al dente while completely coated with the silkiness of the egg.  Now let's not forget about the ample amount of creamy and bright sea notes from the uni on top too!  Such a delicious creation.  The next dish was a very familiar one as I've had it a few times being the Pan-Seared Sablefish with leek, black kale and black truffles.  It is no secret that sablefish is a very forgiving protein, but by the same token, this was perfectly executed - so buttery, yet still flaky.  To compliment the delicate fish, there was leek oil and foam which was there but not overpowering.  Earthiness was provided by the truffle while the kale was cooked just enough.

Off to another classic dish (which I've also had before), the Butter Poached Lobster was interestingly plated.  As much as this was only the tasting menu version, I found it a bit too busy (even though I understood what they were trying to do).  Beyond that, the lobster was outstandingly bouncy and sweet.  Splattered on the plate, the green mole was layered with flavour.  Providing nuttiness was the pumpkin seeds, while the radishes and celeriac offered earthy notes.  Finally, the spice component was thanks to the charred shishito pepper.  Sitting in a creamy and slightly acidic brown butter, the 20-Day Aged Duck Breast was also perfectly prepared.  Moist with rich meatiness, the duck was super tender with crispy skin.  On the side, there was a tart consisting of onions, duck confit and mushrooms.  Loved the soft crunch from the white fungus, but the tart shell was a bit too soft.

Our last meat savoury item for the tasting menu was the Snake River Wagyu Striploin with pan-roasted Walla Walla baby onion and red wine jus.  Meeting my expectations, the meat was buttery and meaty.  Lots of natural beef flavour due to the fat content.  I found the jus to be silky and full of depth.  I enjoyed the tomato fondue which provided sweet tanginess as well as the sweet caramelized onion.  Onto the sweets, we enjoyed the light and refreshing Mandarin Rice Mousse with ocoa chocolate and orange cake.  I'm generally not a sweets person, yet at the same time, really do not mind fruitier lighter desserts.  Well, this was right up my alley with mild sweetness complimented by tanginess and bitter notes.  Loved the airy orange cake and the crunch from the chocolate.

Our final course was probably the most interesting of them all.  The Black Truffle Choux pastry was appealingly black in colour and surrounded by chocolate soil.  From the outside, it wasn't apparent that it was filled with truffle ice cream.  Due to the dryness of the choux pastry, the ice cream completely made up for it being creamy and aromatic.  Maybe the choux was supposed to be this way, otherwise I can see the whole thing being too soft.  Loved the chocolate soil as it was tasty while texturally interesting compared to the soft choux.  So there you have it - all the greatest hits from the Botanist in one complete meal.  Sure it was expensive, however totally worth it if you have enjoyed the Botanist in the past.  It is one of my go-to restaurants in town and am looking forward to revisiting when it reopens.

The Good:
- All of the best dishes from the past and present
- Beautiful and lively room
- Attentive service

The Bad:
- Well, it is expensive (but worth it IMO)


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