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Posted by aaron at 01:01PM, Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Parkside (restaurant review)

1906 Haro Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Our cabbie assured us there were no restaurants on that block of Haro, but we insisted the internet had pointed us here, and as he pulled up to the address we'd given him, we saw the sign for Parkside on the ground floor of what looked like a big apartment building. We walked in, and our server asked whether it would be okay if we sat outside. We assented -- it always takes much arm-twisting to convince us to enjoy the long, slow, cool twilight of a perfect Summer day in a quiet part of Vancouver's West End.

Parkside is in fact in an almost entirely residential neighborhood -- which struck us as one of the (architecturally) older areas in the city. It's a few blocks from Stanley Park, and the stone patio amongst the bushes and trees is sublime. The menu seems based on locally-grown produce, meats, seafood, and wine. In BC, that's hardly a limitation.

We started with one of the specials -- Jamon Iberico with Manchega -- because it sounded porkily cheesetastic. The waiter, evidently impressed, came back and asked how we knew what we were ordering (we hadn't known at all, really.) I guess it's one of their more or less signature dishes; we got the back story of how an old man who emigrated from Spain raises the pigs himself, 30 minutes outside of town, and cures the meat using traditional techniques long handed-down. It tasted damn fine.

I remember little else about the meal, unfortunately. I do remember spectacular fresh greens and veggies; a pleasant, light, local Pinot; good bread; excellent, local meat (duck and lamb); and, ultimately, a sublime dining experience. We left feeling sated, but without the bloated, slightly nauseous full feeling one can acquire at too many foodie restaurants, and had a lovely walk back to our hotel.

There's a pris fixe menu. Prices are not reasonable: they're ridiculously cheap for the quality of the ingredients and preparation. Our total was less than $150 Canadian for three courses each plus wine. We had an excellent meal, in perfect surroundings. Kudos to our friend Tara for the recommendation.

Highly recommended. If you go to Vancouver, you must eat here.
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