February 23, 2005

Birthday Dinners

We have something of a tradition going, after all these years, of celebrating our birthdays with fine dining. There are so many amazing restaurants in this town that we still haven't quite caught up with the at-least-one-visit plan that I once imagined was feasible. Part of the problem is restaurants like Lumiere, which beg to have repeat visits.

Last night, however, I'm proud to say that we stepped outside the beckoning, siren call of restaurants that we wish to re-visit, and went to Bishop's.

Bishop's is one of the better known of Vancouver's restaurants, particularly on the international scene. It has long been the darling of visiting movie stars who are more interested in an elegant, quiet, fabulous dinner than the see-and-be-seen hip joints downtown. The food, as with the decor, is decidedly west coast with French methods (there were brunoise vegetables in my spiced duck broth!) and fabulous vegetables such as braised sunchokes and roasted parsnips. Bishop's was engaged in the idea of locally sourced organic ingredients and lightly prepared vegetables before they became the Next Big Thing.

I can hardly believe how long it has taken me to get to Bishop's, actually. I've met the head chef, Dennis Green, who is friends with an ex-boyfriend of mine. Dennis was sous-chef at the time, which reminds me of just how long ago this really was, but I was invited to his home for a wonderfully casual supper of turkey and vegetable pie and salad (for which we contributed some exceedingly peculiar-looking mushrooms called "hen of the woods" but, since Iron Chef, better known as Maitake). We sat around after dinner, sipping wine and discussing food and the business of restaurants. Menus were plotted, brunch was discussed, and the importance of location was hotly debated. It was an all-around convivial evening, and convinced me of Dennis' passion for food, for cooking, for life. I made a mental note to go to Bishop's soon.

When I heard that he had made head chef, I reminded myself of my intentions to go there, but still more years crept by, until - almost out of the blue - I went last night. Now it has been moved to the list of "must re-visit soon." Of course, we know what "soon" looks like in my culinary world of good intentions, but now I have the impetus of memories of the meal that I had there, and the knowledge that Bishop's more than lives up to its reputation.

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