As you found out in yesterday’s post, I have a sister named Kate. She’s 25 years-old, and she’s a wonder. After working hard for two years as a kinesiologist and recreational therapist in Prince George, she’s heading to South America (by herself) for five weeks of travel, then starting the physiotherapy grad program at UBC. Since travelling alone takes guts and the physio program is NOT easy to get into, I’m so proud of her I could just burst. I’m also thrilled because she’ll be moving back to the lower mainland. Richmond, I’m pleased to introduce to you to Katherine Claire Anderson, and Katherine Claire Anderson, I’m so happy for you to meet Richmond. Look, you’re instantly friends with a whole city!
Kate and I haven’t lived in the same place for ages, but in the past few years we’ve travelled together, and spent three summers at a treeplanting camp. We worked side by side in the kitchen and shared a tent, and for the most part got along just swell. Occasionally she’d want to kill me for eating chocolate cake in our tent and leaving the sweet, sticky, bear-enticing leftovers next to our heads all night. I was just too tired to go back to the kitchen! Not that I would have used that argument had a bear broken in and gnawed on my arm.
Potential bear troubles behind us, I wanted to treat my sister to a nice meal before she left. We chose The Apron, a restaurant in the Westin Hotel on Corvette Way, and a relatively short walk from the Aberdeen Skytrain station. Located just off the main lobby, this space is naturally lit by two walls of windows, and has minimalist, green-accented décor. Our server, Cynthia, was a gracious and unobtrusive host.
The Apron’s menu is short and to the point; they offer one soup, two salads, several appetizers, a choice of eight entrées (not vegetarian friendly, fyi), and dessert. Kate and I had the Dungeness Crab Cake with Apple Celery Slaw, Marinated Beets, and Coriander Yogurt ($18); the Pan-Seared Sockeye Salmon with Organic Jade Bamboo Rice, Baby Spinach, and Sweet Coconut Curry Broth ($30); the Pan-Roasted Lamb Loin with Butternut Squash, Sautéed Lettuce, Fingerling Potatoes, Brown Butter, and Malt Vinaigrette ($32); and The Apron Chocolate Bar with Pistachio Ice Cream, Caramel, and Fresh Berries ($10). To drink, I had a glass of their house white, a Sauvignon Blanc from Mission Hill ($8.50), and Kate tried the J. Lohr Cypress Cabernet Sauvignon ($11). Full of ripe black cherry, this was our favourite of the two.
As a whole, the crab cake was good; I liked the slightly sour coriander yogurt – a welcome departure from crab cakes so often drenched in mayo – and the small, jewel-like beets. The cake itself was a little crumbly and could have used more seasoning, but with the other elements it was still nice.
The salmon dish was fresh and amiable; the wild sockeye was a vibrant, blushing pink, the kind of natural colour that argues silently but fervently against the need for artificial dyes in any food.
It sat on a bed of buttery spinach, with a mixture of sautéed vegetables peeking out from the spiced coconut broth. Altogether, a delight.
The lamb was good, though it’s generally tough to sell me on meat-dominated plates.
There was really nothing to complain about; the lamb was tender, the vegetables were cooked well (especially the potatoes – fingerlings are great), and I liked the fennel and nigella seed gratin on top of the sliced lamb. It was good, but I wasn’t floored. Maybe it was all just a bit too wintery at this time when I’m craving fresh summer vegetables, or maybe I just need to come around to lamb. Whatever it was, I was just a bit bored.
Our dessert – a delicate slice of chocolate paté with a hazelnut praline base – was a smooth way to end the meal.
We followed THAT up with a container of dark chocolate Coconama truffles from La Chocolaterie. Yes, I’ve been back! Three times now. I meant it when I said I’d try every flavour.
Overall, The Apron was a refined and relaxing place to have dinner. While the food isn’t necessarily creative, it is classic, and for the most part, well done.
The most important thing was that Kate enjoyed her final Canadian dinner before delving into the cuisines of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. I’m sure she’ll have many a story to tell from this adventure, and will quickly tire of my “but what was the FOOD like??” questioning upon her return. I’m sure Richmond and the readers of this blog join me in saying Bon Voyage Katherine! You’re a strong, confident, adventurous lady, and we can’t wait to see you in Richmond again soon. Thanks to The Apron for a great goodbye. And now, she’s up and away!