Botanist

Canada’s 100 Best - - THE LIST - 1038 Canada Pl., Van­cou­ver, B.C. botanistre­stau­rant.com

SINCE BURST­ING into bloom two years ago, the Fair­mont Pa­cific Rim’s pretty-in-pink flag­ship restau­rant has flour­ished, breath­ing new life into a tricky sec­ond-floor space where sev­eral it­er­a­tions of the for­mer Oru eatery had lan­guished. It’s still un­com­fort­ably loud, but lo­cal de­signer Craig Stanghetta (Kissa Tanto, Savio Volpe) has trans­formed the long, bright cor­ri­dor into four dis­tinct sec­tions—Cham­pagne lounge, bar, so­lar­ium and main din­ing room with open kitchen. The lat­ter, filled with green­ery, flo­ral mo­tifs and a grand piano, has a preppy ’80s vibe. Ex­ec­u­tive chef Hec­tor La­guna, who trained un­der Michelle Bern­stein at Michy’s in Mi­ami, fol­lowed by stints at Lee Restau­rant, Nota Bene and Hawksworth, works with the bounty of Bri­tish Columbia and a splash of Mediter­ranean bright­ness. Ethe­real plat­ing, dot­ted with colour­ful oils, foamy froths and dust­ings of ed­i­ble soil, is grounded with bold herb in­fu­sions, spicy vinai­grettes and lay­ered tex­tures. Pas­tas, es­pe­cially the egg-dense tagli­atelle with for­aged mush­rooms, are ex­cel­lent. But per­fectly pan-roasted, oven-fin­ished and well-rested meats, never ma­nip­u­lated into spongy ten­der­ness by a sous-vide cir­cu­la­tor, are La­guna’s strong­est suit. Lamb sad­dle and dry-aged duck breast are charred, juicy and brawny. They taste like real meat. At lunch, hand-cut beef tartare is topped with a smoked egg yolk ringed by Parme­san foam. What­ever you or­der, Jill Spoor will match it with a fresh, herba­ceous pair­ing from her award-win­ning, ter­roir-driven wine pro­gram.

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