Sherman's Food Adventures: Wildlight Kitchen & Bar

Wildlight Kitchen & Bar

I've been hearing good things about the newish Wildlight Kitchen & Bar but in reality, it has been a bit of a struggle to get out there.  It isn't exactly close to where I live.  In fact, I live much closer to SFU than to UBC.  Hence, it took a special occasion to make the special trip - my birthday!  I was super excited to try Chef Warren Chow's take on Westcoast cuisine employing local ingredients.  Just be aware, if you park underground, they are very strict with the 2 hour limit.  We got a ticket!

Onto the food, we started off big with the Wildlight Pescatarian Charcuterie Board.  This attractive-looking creation consisted of housemade salmon pastrami, beet cured ling cod, marinated Salt Spring Island mussels, smoked albacore tataki, cod rillette, pickled sea asparagus, warm olives, rye, poppadom and nori crackers.  This was unique due to the absence of red meat and also that this wasn't merely a spread of raw fish.  Loved the salmon pastrami as it was buttery soft with the peppery sweet and earthy notes of pastrami.  That rillette went well with the crunchy nori crackers and the ling cod had a beautiful purple hue.  Oh and it was nicely textured too.

Continuing on with more fish, we also had the Tuna Tartare with albacore tuna, spicy cucumber, avocado, ponzu & citrus vinaigrette, ikura, coriander and nori rice crackers.  This was pretty good too in terms of taste as the brightness of the vinagrette was there.  I would've liked more of it though.  The chunks of tuna and avocado were a bit too large as they slid off the crackers and it was hard to eat.  But really, there is an easy fix to that.

Easily, our favourite appie of the bunch was the Wildlight Chicken Wings with shishito, garlic, charred lime and nuoc cham caramel.  Being really large whole wings, the amount of meat was substantial.  Also, with a perfect deep fry, the exterior was crispy and rendered while the meat was super juicy.  To top it off, the flavours were fabulous with briny sweetness as well as balancing acidity from the lime.  I would eat these again and again.

As per usual, my daughter had her own personal appie in the Smoked Sablefish Chowder that also had surf clams, dungeness crab, scallops and double-smoked bacon drizzled with chive oil. Oh man, this was really delicious as the creaminess of the broth was definitely there without being heavy.  It was loaded with seafood with buttery and smoky sablefish and the aforementioned components.  All were cooked perfectly and the bacon really provided depth.

I was rather hungry so I opted for the Steak Frites featuring a hanger steak cooked to medium-rare (only way to do it with this cut!).  I found it sufficiently tender with a bit of chewiness while providing plenty of beefiness.  It was topped with a creamy peppercorn sauce that had a bite.  The mushrooms and kale added some vegetable to the mix as well as more flavours (including the bright chimichurri).  The side of truffle & pecorino fries were supremely crunchy and were further enhanced by the smoked onion mayo.

Viv had the Miso Koji Sablefish that was marinated in white miso and subsequently torched.  This not only lead to an amazing glazed appearance, it also caramelized the fish with a salty, smoky and sweet taste.  Also, the fish was super buttery.  Underneath, there was soba noodles, glazed baby bok choy and edamame in a dashi consomme.  The rest of the plate was mild-tasting and that worked well because of the delicate fish.

My daughter had the Seared Hokkaido Scallops with lobster & truffle risotto, preserved lemon, paprika oil and squid ink tuile.  In terms of execution, this plate was as perfect as it could get.  The risotto spread evenly and had an al dente texture.  Lots of aroma from the lobster stock as well as the woodsiness from the truffle oil.  Definitely a good call on the preserved lemon as it brought some concentrated brightness.  As you can see, the scallops were seared beautifully.  They were slightly rare in the middle.  Really good dish.

It was absolutely no surprise that my son went for The Wildlight Burger, but it was also the right call.  It was fantastic with a thick and juicy dry-aged Two Rivers patty.  The meat itself was nicely seasoned but the melted aged white cheddar certainly didn't hurt either.  Nice sharp nuttiness.  Add in some thick-cut bacon and fried onions, he thought that provided crunch and smoky saltiness.  To balance it off, the tomato jam gave a sweet tanginess.  Oh and the same smoked onion aioli from my dish afforded some depth of flavour.

Possibly the most pedestrian of all our dishes was the Seafood Fettuccine in a tomato dill sauce (could be had with white wine cream as well).  The sauce was tangy and dill forward, but things were a bit clumpy.  I found the pasta to be a bit too al dente.  But there was a plethora of perfectly-prepared seafood including  smoked salmon, littleneck clams, prawns and Salt Spring Island mussels with shishito peppers, cherry tomatoes and Grana Padano.

My mom decided on the Aged Fraser Valley Duck Breast with confit leg croquette, carrot puree, dijon spaetzle, orange marmalade glazed vegetables, pickled chanterelles and duck jus.  Being cooked to medium, the duck breast was still moist and tender.  Skin was fairly well-rendered but was not that crispy.  Loved the buttery and seared spaetzle underneath as well as the sweet just cooked-through veggies.  The duck jus was gelatinous and was packed with umaminess.  The little croquette featured moist duck confit while coated with a crispy coating.

For dessert, we shared a Lemon Tart and a Pink Guava Cheesecake.  We only got 2 desserts since we had a Trafiq cake waiting at home!  But these 2 desserts were rather impressive as the tart was on point.  The tart shell was buttery and firm, shattering when we dug in.  The lemon curd was appealingly tangy and just sweet enough.  However, we were more impressed with the guava cheesecake as it had all of the sweet aromatics associated with guava.  It was also super smooth and light akin to a Jello cheesecake, but of course infinitely better.  The deconstructed nature of the dessert made for better presentation as well as letting us enjoy the toasted almond crumble by itself.  It was nutty and not too sweet while not encased in butter.  Overall, we quite enjoyed our meal at Wildlight.  The food was well-prepared and delicious.  Service was also solid and we enjoyed the dining space.

The Good:
- Well-prepared food
- Excellent service
- Nice dining space

The Bad:
- 2-hours free parking may not be enough for some people
- Location is a bit far for most people


Anonymous said...

Hi Sherman! I am glad you have finally tried Wildlight, which has been one of my favourite spots on campus as a UBC student. I was eager to see your review for this restaurant for a while as I have been following on with your reviews of other restaurants in Vancouver for a while, some of which have been my favourites since childhood.

On to the food, I have actually tried most of the items your group tried, and I must say, I certainly agree with everything you commented about each and every one of them. Steak frites and wildlight burger especially are really good choices in terms of quantity, value and price. A quick note on the wildlight burger, the price of the burger alone actually goes down by a lot during happy hours (from $25 to $15). This is why I sometimes have that or mussels and fries (also $15) whenever I can make it there at the 3 to 5 pm window.

Overall, wildlight is an excellent fine-dining restaurant. Students do not have to go to downtown to get their fancy meals nowadays. Plus, they actually get a 10% discount which is nice.

Anonymous said...

Great restaurant for students that want to celebrate the end of their semesters.

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