801 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, B.C. hawksworthrestaurant.com
DROP BY Hawksworth at lunch, and you can settle in casually at the granite bar for a superb hamburger, with only a beer and a newspaper for company. Or if you prefer, a few steps away, in the glamorous chandeliered Pearl Room or the sunny Art Room, you can go posh and have an elegant lobster salad with a fine glass of chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. Come cocktail hour, there is no more chic setting for a tête-à-tête than the leather-lined banquette in the lounge, beneath the dazzling Damien Hirst (“Big Love Diamond Dust,” with a butterfly, of course). Finally, at dinner, it is fine-dining time, and the full range of David Hawksworth’s exquisite culinary vision is on full display. His style is constantly evolving and always interesting. It possesses a finesse that’s easily traced to the great U.K. kitchens where he honed his craft decades ago. As did more recently his South African chef de cuisine Quinton Bennett, who came to Hawksworth fresh from running Nigel Haworth’s kitchen at Northcote. Their cooking at Hawksworth is sophisticated, enchantingly colourful, generally light, and possessed of an almost Asian preoccupation with texture and mouth feel. Expect bright, distinct flavours, balance and, typically, varied textures and a bit of crunch. Influences are assertively, convincingly international. Hamachi crudo is enriched with coconut and brightened with a natural pairing of orange and fennel, while octopus meets mole, smoky mezcal and the umami of charred avocado. Ingredients are top-quality and local—within reason (which means yes to fish from New Zealand, truffles from Tasmania and lobster from our East Coast). Wayne Kozinko’s desserts are exceptional. The wine list is long, varied and well-curated, and many excellent wines are available by the glass— ask sommelier Bryant Mao for one of his inspired recommendations. Or better yet, settle in for the “B.C. Journey” tasting menu, and have him pair the lot.