Hawksworth Restaurant Shows Why Vancouver Is Serious About Food

Undisputedly one of Vancouver's most established restaurants, dinner at Hawksworth comes with a high level of expectation. It's one of the pressures that stems from building such a staunch reputation in a city of discerning foodies – a city that, in recent years has exploded as a mecca for inventive cuisine and fascinatingly modern gastronomy. In this sense, Hawksworth is a curious representation of the playful dichotomy of Vancouver's hospitality scene. Set in the luxurious and classic Hotel Georgia, in its vintage stylings and nostalgic, old school decor, Hawksworth brings a vivacious gaiety to the dining room's plates, which on another meta level, carry this contrast of classic local roots and exciting culinary fervor through each of its dishes.

Walking into the restaurant, it is quite definitely the sexy backroom of the hotel. Flirtatiously outfitted with silver trimmings, dimly lit, surrounded by abstract paintings and a rectangular chandelier, the restaurant's stylish physical appearance is a sassy juxtaposition of class and sass. It's impressively refined without the suffering restraints all too commonly seen with fine dining. And it's this theme that's carried through the dining experience – an experience of beautifully crafted, spectacularly presented, highest quality food, laid out with warm sincerity.

Chef David Hawksworth opened up Hawksworth Restaurant in 2011. European trained, the award winning chef has received a plethora of accolades for the downtown Vancouver hotspot. The restaurant has appeared on countless "best of", and "Restaurant of the Year" lists, yet despite the acclaim, has continued to deliver the highest standard of food without any arrogance or pretension. The European trained chef worked in restaurants including Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, L'Escargot and The Square, crafting his skills before returning to his home of Vancouver, to open what has become one of the city's most recognizable restaurants.

Hawksworth's food is an inspired nod to his homeland's diverse culinary landscape, and there's no denying that each dish is intricately composed with the highest attention to detail that the chef is known for. Plates are like canvases, painted with the most breathtaking of tasty arts. A beet salad lights up the opening act of the evening, with splashed of color matching the bursts of sweetness that come from the two varieties of colorful beets, and berries. It's a perfect bouquet of captivating textures; a creamy, gently salty puree against a crunch of nuts, and a chewiness of berries with the sweet smoothness of beets. A stunning wreath of a hamachi ceviche basks in authentic simplicity, accented with dehydrated orange cells and cumin oil. The appetizers all proudly tease Vancouver's access to quality produce from the land and the sea, and it's an overture to the main course.

A house special of the evening, a halibut mousse agnolotti, was a wondrous instance of Hawksworth showcasing the spirited creativity that comes from the celebration of Vancouver flavors. Perfectly cooked pasta, almost dumpling like in its tender bite, housed the most delicate of halibut mousse in a truly ecstatic bite. Served with a smoked carrot puree, sidestripe shrimp, chanterelle mushroom, and pickled red curry squash, it was a total joy to appreciate, and a magnificent medley of textures dancing perfectly together.

In opposition to the bright tones of the opening dishes, Hawksworth's Yarrow Meadows duck from Fraser Valley carries a richer, heavier timbre, with the most satisfying result. Marinated overnight in orange and aromatic spices, the impeccably cooked duck sits on a bed of charred corn, with blackberry puree. The duck skin is perfectly crispy, a bite shattering into a unctuous and flavorful layer of fat. Understated sweetness from the blackberry puree thoughtfully cuts through the weighty gaminess of the dish, and a subsequent salty sweet combination presents the duck in a rewardingly affirmative manner.

The ending sweet notes of Hawksworth's dinner are some of the most picturesque. A tart blueberry sorbet served on top of a sweet and velvety gel. Blueberries and buckwheat cookies, shattering with every crunchy bite, sit opposing next to perfect pillows of light choux pastries stuffed with toasted white chocolate. The striking texture of the dish once again prevails, with the roughness of the cookies antagonizing the melting tart sorbet, which in turn, sings in harmony with the creamy white chocolate. It's all connected beautifully by the most fragrant of locally foraged honeycomb from the neighboring mountains, an element of the dish that you'll no doubt wish you had more of in every bite.

Make no mistake, a dinner at Hawksworth comes with a conditional price tag, and paired with wines selected by their remarkably knowledgable and engaging sommelier, can be a pricey evening. But when taking into account the quality of both the food and the service provided, it's well worth the expense. Hawksworth is able to deliver the not so common achievement of a beautifully exhibited fine dining experience with only the most exceptional quality of carefully sourced ingredients, served with outstanding customer service.

The journalist who authored this article was hosted by Hawkworth Restaurant.