Vegetarian. Vegan. Raw. Gluten Free. Words that I used to avoid in the worst possible way. It may have been because of my upbringing (heavy on the carbohydrates and proteins) or the stereotypical notions (tasteless food, limited options) and awful memories (trying to eat bitter melons as a kid and failing miserably) that came to mind, so going to a restaurant that specializes in these dietary practices was not my ideal place of choice.
But along came our experience at Noma, and everything changed. Their creative ways of foraging, preparing and using a multitude of vegetables, not only as a side but as the main star of a majority of their dishes, opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that can be achieved when handled by the right hands. So when C heard about a restaurant in Vancouver in which the head chef briefly staged at Noma, I jumped at the chance to try his cooking without thinking twice about the purely vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten free menu.
The Acorn is located along Main and 24th, and is co-owned and operated by head chef Brian Skinner and Shira Blustein who handles the front of house duties. With dark wooden floors and similar ceiling and wooden beams contrasting the white walls and metallic chairs, the restaurant gives off a very clean and organic feel; matching nicely with the “hipster” vibe that the neighbourhood is known for.
During this meal, I was accompanied by two fellow co-workers as C was feeling under the weather. The Acorn does not accept reservations so we waited about 30 minutes for a space to clear at the bar. From the crowd waiting that evening, The Acorn is quite a popular place, and had it not been for the seating at the bar, I am more than certain our wait would have been at least an hour long.
Having just come back from Barcelona, seeing a sangria on the menu stuck out immediately, but to my disappointment, the sangria was not as flavourful and strong as I had expected. On the other hand, the appetizers were quite a treat. I was surprised at the amount of seasoning and saltiness they were able to incorporate into the Caesar given that they did not use anchovies. Despite the pate not having a strong artichoke punch, eating it together with the accompanying crostinis and salad made for an enjoyable crunchy and smooth texture mash up.
The Zucchini Tagliatelle was the highlight of the night for me. From the the visual appeal of orange, green, red and purple colour palettes, to the rich flavour of the cashew rose sauce, salty olives and slight tangy acid notes of the zucchini and tomatoes. The dish was good from start to finish. I wasn’t able to taste the Eggplant and Tellagio Tian, but the one issue expressed by both my co-workers was in regards to execution. Since the dish requires three eggplant slices to be stacked one on top of another (forming an eggplant tower of sorts), they noticed that the lower levels of the eggplant tower were not as cooked as the first one.
The menu may scare some people off initially, but after our dinner, I’ve realized that the dishes they are creating at The Acorn is not meant to target a specific dietary group, but instead appeal to everyone who is willing to give something new a try. There were definite hits and misses, but it was a decent start for a restaurant that at that time, had only been open for four months.
To view pictures of our meal in its entirety, click through the photo set below. If you are using a mobile device, please click here for compatibility.
Thanks for reading,
S & C