West Broadway seems to be constantly changing tenants. Initially the center of Greek culture in the city, and to some extent still so (it is the location of Vancouver’s Greek Days after all), now the restaurant’s themes span the globe, offering everything from Chinese to Southern Barbeque. In the spot that once housed Fiction and thereafter the New Bohemian, Establishment Lounge is now, well, established. It’s menu that tours the world, with stops in Italy, Asia and the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, sometimes even on the same plate.
Establishment’s chef, Victor Bongo, has recently revamped the menu, and it’s worth a stop in to try some of the new dishes. I first met Bongo at the Canadian Chefs Congress in Duncan, when he was representing the Yukon Territory, and he has cooked around Vancouver before at Seasons in the Park and the Wedgewood Hotel. He’s no stranger to the local food scene.
Owner Clayton Mickey, Cactus Club alumni, renovated the place in the fall of 2011 after taking over the spot that spring. The restaurant does have a patio for warmer summer nights, but this place really gets its groove on after dark and as it’s rather dimly lit, and seems to be more popular in the later hours, when the bar is hopping. Bar Manager Sathi Rajan has designed the cocktail list to include a variety of classics and some new twists. Relax with sangria, a negroni or sazerac or sip one of the many scotches on the list.
The menu is divided into soups and salads, thin crust pizzas and tapas plates, all great for sharing. The Establishment palm salad is a must, packed full of flavour.
It’s a blend of mango, cabbage slaw, bell peppers, avocado, chickpeas, basil, and mint and is topped with a peanut vinaigrette. He’s also known for his signature African chicken peanut soup, a dish from his heritage.
Also enjoyable is a goat cheese souffle which served atop colourful beet carpaccio. In fact Chef Bongo creates all his dishes in a colourful and visually appealing manner. This souffle is denser version than the usual, more like a light cheesecake.
Duck and mango rice paper rolls are served along with a truffle peanut sauce. Peanut and truffle is a couple that really should never have met, but the cilantro plum sauce that is also a side, works well as would the peanut sauce sans the truffle oil.
Latin pan-seared scallops are nicely done and appropriately adorned with avocado mousee, chipotle aioli and mango pico de gallo as are the shrimp and lobster cakes with a trio of sauces. The Morocan bison lollipops were a disappointment. They were a bit tough, but we discussed this with chef Bongo and he indicated he was in the process of switching the meat supplier for the bison. That may do the trick.
For dessert the trio of crème brulee, marscapone cheesecake or chocolate mousse cake are offered and there’s a late night menu with a few less offers than the regular, but one that should satisfy evening cravings.