From wild mushroom risotto to cognac-spiked eggnog and sticky toffee pudding, these local restaurants are serving up warmth for the holidays

From wild mushroom risotto to cognac-spiked eggnog and sticky toffee pudding, these local restaurants are serving up warmth for the holidays

As is holiday tradition, many of Vancouver’s top restaurants are opening their doors this month for lunch—a tough proposition during the rest of the year. In December, however, friends, families and business associates open up their wallets a bit wider for some seasonal cheer—and winter menus (and extended operating hours) pop up in establishments from South Granville to Gastown to Robson.

Click through for a look at three of the best holiday restaurant bets....

L’Abattoir, 217 Carrall Street

L’Abattoir, 217 Carrall Street

Check your calendar, because one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed restaurants, L’Abattoir, has a very select number of days on which it will be offering a winter menu this month: December 7 to 9, 14 to 16, and 21-23 only.

What will you get? A great starter—comfort food done right—is the oxtail consommé with soft poached egg, root vegetables and potato dumplings ($15), to be followed by the baked pasta with confit duck, béchamel, mushrooms and grana podano ($24)—and if you’re feeling super indulgent (‘tis the season, right?), the sticky toffee pudding with honey and ginger ice cream ($9).

YEW (at the Four Seasons), 791 West Georgia Street

YEW (at the Four Seasons), 791 West Georgia Street

While Yew does good lunchtime trade, thanks to the business crowd, this month sees several limited-time additions to their menu. Limited time but not necessarily limited in quantity, however—we’re excited about an offering, every Monday in December between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., for “unlimited oysters” (you read that right) for only $30.

If raw shellfish isn’t your bag, try Yew’s delicious “Cog Nog”—a cognac-spiked twist on the traditional eggnog, designed by mixologist Lauren Mote and served up in a nostalgic Christmas Vacation mug. (Nothing says Christmas like Chevy Chase.)

For fans of German pastry, the world-famous Yew stollen is also on the menu—and available for sale ($25) at the “Festive Desk” or online.

CinCin Ristorante + Bar, 1154 Robson Street

CinCin Ristorante + Bar, 1154 Robson Street

The grande dame of Robson now has a fully enclosed and heated patio, which is the perfect place to grab respite from the shopping madness below. But visit soon, because CinCin’s lunch menu disappears after Christmas. A few highlights from the well-curated sheet by executive chef Andrew Richardson include the endive salad (with gorgonzola, walnuts and pear, in a walnut vinaigrette; $14), wild mushroom risotto (with Périgord truffle and crunchy Parmesan; $16/22) and the scallop and prawn spiedini (with nduja potatoes, chard and grilled lemon; $32).

And if you want to capture a bit of the Richardson magic at home, Chef has a recently released cookbook, CinCin: Wood Fired Cucina ($37.95), available for sale at the restaurant or online.

Click through for CinCin's secret endive salad recipe...

CinCin's Salad of Two Endives recipe—Gorgonzola, walnuts and pears—walnut vinaigrette

CinCin's Salad of Two Endives recipe—Gorgonzola, walnuts and pears—walnut vinaigrette

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) walnut vinaigrette
  • 4 heads red Belgian endive
  • 4 heads green Belgian endive
  • 4 oz (110 g) Gorgonzola cheese
  • 3 oz (85 g) toasted walnuts (2/3 cup/160 mL)
  • 2 ripe pears, unpeeled
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, for garnish
  • Prepare the walnut vinaigrette


method

  1. Trim the stem from the endive and cut 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) from the base.
  2. Cut the endive in half lengthwise. Trim away the white core.
  3. Rinse the leaves in cold water, and either spin-dry or pat dry with a tea towel or paper towels.
  4. Set aside in a salad bowl large enough to hold all the leaves.
  5. Break the Gorgonzola and walnuts into small pieces.
  6. Cut the pears in half, remove the cores and slice the halves into thin pieces about 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) thick.
  7. Drizzle most of the vinaigrette over the endive leaves, reserving 1 to 2 Tbsp (15–30 mL) for finishing the plates.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, and mix gently with a fork or spoon, being careful not to bruise the leaves.
  9. Arrange the dressed leaves on 4 plates. Evenly distribute the pear, Gorgonzola and walnuts over the endive leaves.
  10. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the four plates, and then sprinkle with parsley.

Walnut Vinaigrette ingredients

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbsp (22 mL) white wine vinegar
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbsp (22 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) walnut oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

instructions

  1. Whisk together the mustard, vinegar and lemon juice.
  2. Keep whisking as you slowly pour in the walnut oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4
Courtesy of Andrew Richardson, executive chef at CinCin Ristorante + Bar

Wine note: a Pecorino would be fun—the wine, not the cheese! Pasetti Pecorino 2012 from Abruzzo would do nicely.