This year, the firm’s end of busy season tax party was at Wildebeest and I was extremely excited since has been on the list of restaurants I wanted to visit. Located in Gastown, Wildebeest is known for their meat-centric dishes. Many of their dishes are served family style, and you’ll find some not-so-typical meat dishes here.
Our firm booked up the entire top floor, which featured wooden ambiance with long tables and wooden swivel chairs. They have a bar and an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs in action. Service started very slow in the beginning. We probably sat around for at least 30 minutes with no snacks or drinks being served. It might be because we arrived earlier than they had expected us, but we were all hungry for food. As the first dishes began to roll out though, things picked up and we got our food fairly quickly and there were no further complaints by the end of the night.
Freshly Shucked Oyster
We had a set menu ready for us with canapés to start. First came the Freshly Shucked Oyster, which was topped with a shallot mignonette and black pepper. This was delicious with the oyster being sweet and fresh. The second item was the Albacore Tuna Tataki, but this ran out by the time it got to our table. I was quite disappointed with this as I thought they would have enough to serve each person one. Some people at my table also didn’t get the oysters. You would think they had made enough for each guest to have at least one.
Angus Short Rib
The third item was the Angus Short Rib, which seemed to be the favourite item for most people. This had a brown butter jus and was topped with bonito flakes. The bonito flakes gave it a Japanese flare and the meat was cooked to a medium rare. Extremely tender and we all wanted seconds!
Our cocktails finally came around and I started off with the Bjorn Borg, which is like a slurpee. The ingredients included earl grey, pear, honey, premium Vodka, lemon, and London dry gin. You got that hint of sweetness from the pear and I liked how it was in a slurpee type of form. It reminded me of a Bellini and was very refreshing.
Our set menu also included some snacks to share between around 4 guests. The first were the Pork Rinds. These were crispy and slightly seasoned. StevieD said that they were quite average and tasted like the ones you get off the shelf at the supermarket. Nothing too special. I also agreed and also disliked the fact that the rinds stuck to your teeth.
Next were the Pork Schnitzels, which were a favourite at my table. The pork were deep fried to golden brown and the batter was very crispy. It came with a caraway-spiced beer mustard.
The last snack was the Spiced Hazelnut. These were roasted and seasoned with spices. I didn’t find these too special. They were nice to snack on while waiting for our food, but they didn’t wow me.
Since we were still waiting for our food, we went for another cocktail. This time we chose the Gastown Collins, which has London Dry Gin, Amaro Montenegro, lemon, honey, and IPA. This was a very bitter drink mostly due to the Indian pale ale. None of us really enjoyed this drink.
Spring Beet Salad
Then our appetizers came. BG got the Spring Beet Salad, which he commented had endless beets. There were both red and yellow beets, along with shaved cucumber, compressed apple, a ricotta salata, miner’s lettuce and a beetroot sorbet.
Most guests at my table got the Bison Carpaccio, which featured kalamata olive and soy vinaigrette, pickled shimieji mushrooms, puffed wild rice, and micro arugula. I tasted this as well, and really enjoyed it! You can roll the ingredients with the thin layer of bison, which I thought was a great concept. The bison had a more gamey flavour than your typical beef carpaccio, but all the ingredients worked well together. StevieD commented that he didn’t really like the puffed wild rice as you got that unexpected crunch. S on the other hand like that pop of crunch.
For myself, I decided to try the Bone Marrow. It came with butter leeks and oyster mushrooms on top. It was topped with a crimini mushroom vinaigrette. Grilled country bread accompanied the dish and I was told to spread the bone marrow onto the bread. The bone marrow was very jelly and oily like. It’s definitely not a dish for everyone, but I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Onto the main course. S got the Pan-Seared Halibut, which came with butter braised potato in a wild mushroom broth. It also came with some Shanghai bok choy and grilled scallions. The halibut was moist and the broth was very flavourful. A dish with many Asian flavours.
For myself, I got the Angus Striploin, which came with roasted fingerling potatoes and cipollini onions, smoked salt, and hay jus. This was served medium rare and you could see it was cooked perfectly with the pink meat. I liked how it was served all cut up already, making it easy to eat. The meat was tender, although I got a piece with a huge piece of fat still stuck on. The potatoes were great and the sauce was addicting. Everyone cleaned up their dish!
For dessert, StevieD didn’t want his dessert, so I ended up getting to try two! First was the Wildebeest Cheesecake, which came as sort of a deconstructed cheesecake. It was a whipped cheesecake, with strawberry sorbet and pastry crumble on top. As it was a whipped cheesecake, it was very mousse-like. Definitely not in a cake form. Many of my coworkers enjoyed this, but I could taste that hint of blue cheese in it, which I’m not a fan of.
The second dessert was the Anjou Pear, which I enjoyed much more. It had dark chocolate honeycomb and chocolate ice cream. I loved the honeycomb as it gave it a nice crunch. The pears were candied and I loved this texture.
Overall, Wildebeest was great and I would highly recommend it if you are adventurous and ready to try some exotic meats. Their regular menu even has horse tartare! Everyone agreed that the food tasted great. Service was a bit slow in the beginning, but it definitely picked up by the end of the night. Jason, who was our table’s server for most of the night was also very friendly and knew all his drinks and food very well. Perfect one to ask for suggestions. As food was comped by the firm, I cannot comment too much on the prices. I can say that you do get full from a three course meal, and the portions aren’t as small as you’d expect.
– Lots of exotic meats
– All dishes were executed very well
– Service was very slow in the beginning
Price Range: N/A (~$30+ per the regular menu)
1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent