It was my birthday over the weekend, so my family decided that they wanted to take me out for dinner. Fable has been on my to-do list for some time now, so that’s what I picked.
I first learned about the “farm to table” restaurant at Vancouver exhibitions and events like EAT! Vancouver and the Home + Design Show. The great story here is that Fable got its start because of Top Chef Canada. That’s where Trevor Bird made a name for himself and came up with the concept. The claim to fame for chef Curtis Luk is the same reality TV series.
Fable is now known for “sourcing local product and delivering great flavours in a fun and non-pretentious setting.” Indeed, while the menu at Fable is quite sophisticated, the dining room is decidedly relaxed. Further to this transparent and unpretentious philosophy, guests can peer right into the kitchen from the street. The daily drink special is hand-written on a roll of paper and tables lack tablecloths.
So, what did we eat? Since there were six of us, we decided to share a few appetizers to start.
Duck Basket Appetizer – With Thai ginger sauce
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of offal, so I was happy to see that the chefs at Fable aren’t afraid to use the whole animal. We didn’t order it, but they had fish lettuce wraps on special that used fish heads rather than the main part of the body. And this duck appetizer extends that philosophy, not only featuring the wings, but also the necks. The cilantro and pickled carrots gave this dish a Vietnamese-inspired flavor profile.
Canned Tuna – “The best canned tuna”
Everyone says that this is the the dish to try at Fable. While I thought it was fine, I didn’t think it was all that spectacular and it doesn’t really live up to the hype. You get some nice (raw) tuna, along with tomato, potato, lemon, sea salt and some other seasonings. You mush it all together in the jar and smear it on the provided crostini. The flavor wasn’t as robust or complex as I had hoped.
Fresh Shucked B.C. Oysters – “Raw oysters pose an increased health risk”
I love how the health warning is the official description for the oysters on the menu. I appreciate that these were the smaller, sweeter oysters, rather than the larger, fatter ones. We opted to pay the extra 50 cents for some local fresh wasabi/horseradish and it was well worth the half dollar.
Spaghetti and Meat Balls – Duck meat ball, tagliatelle, mushrooms
Remember how I said that Fable strives to use every part of the animal? I imagine it’s all the “other parts” of the duck that go into the wonderfully savory duck meatball here. This is technically an appetizer, but Susanne had it as her entree. The meatball itself had a nice crispness to the outside and then it is effectively “stuffed” with the sauce. When you cut into it, that’s how the pasta (cooked to a perfect al dente) gets sauced, along with the foam on top. This was wonderfully earthy and, if you’re not particularly hungry or you are sharing a few appetizers already, it could be enough as a main.
Pork Steaks – 6 oz. pork steaks marinated in thyme, garlic and olive oil, with three cheese perogies
Based on what is fresh and available that day, Fable concocts its specials of the day. One of the specials on the day we went were these pork steaks. I didn’t get to sample the dish, but my brother seemed perfectly pleased with it.
Duck Breast – Preserved berries, mustard spatzle, duck confit
Some people may fault Fable on the plating of this dish — I did receive a comment on Facebook when I posted an early photo — but this was a fantastic main. The duck breast was cooked to a beautiful medium-rare, easily satisfying my umami needs. I would have liked if the spaetzle were in bigger pieces, but the delicate mix here with the berries offered a great balance of flavour.
Pumpkin Panna Cotta
This was the featured dessert for the night. While I liked the candied crispy bits, the panna cotta itself didn’t have the silky smooth texture I normally associate with the Italian dessert. Instead, it had that slight graininess that we normally find with pumpkin pie filling… which is exactly how it tasted.
Marscapone Cheesecake – Apple textures, chat caramel, almond brittle
I only had a small bite of this and I thought it was fine. Nothing too remarkable, but not bad at all either.
I can see why Fable is so popular. More and more, we’re starting to recognize the importance of knowing where our food comes from, so it’s good to see restaurants like Fable that are committed to locally-sourced ingredients, particularly when they’re creative with cheaper cuts of meat.
While no one will mistake Fable’s menu for being cheap, it is reasonably affordable for the quality of ingredients that you get and the delicate care that put into creating those delicious flavours. And because the features change all the time, it’s worthwhile to visit at different times of the year to see what the chefs have dreamed up for us to eat.
Dinner for six — including a bottle of wine, taxes and gratuity — came to a touch over $300.