After a treacherous 3 minute walking commute from Jenn's apartment we bellied up to our lovely, intimate table and were approached by our very gracious server Sherrie with a cheerful "hello Ms. Chan!" A very good start! I would be remiss to forget to mention the grandeur of the beautiful Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, my personal favourite building in the downtown core, nay the province! Its signature blue roof now boasting colour changing LEDs at night and its castle-like exterior projects strength and stability. As the automatic doors from another era 70's Star Trek-style slide open you're struck by the height of the ceiling and the elegance of the marble floors as you pass windows of Louis Vuitton and Gucci displays. I myself stopped to drool over some lavish, embroidered Gucci blazers. My closet is already bursting with suits, some 30 or so, but I'd have traded 10 or 20 for this particular white and black emblazoned jacket! Notch 8 doesn't boast huge windows with views, but the size, opulence and sophistication of the room can leave you dumbfounded.
At Sherrie's cajoling Jenn ordered the Fra-Gee-Lay which is served in a foot tall leg lamp glass à la A Christmas Story. Ya. Happy to report she didn't shoot her eye out! I ordered the Lagonitas IPA which wasn't very photogenic, but delicious! Quick on the heels of our refreshments came our appetizers and a little surprise from Chef de Cuisine Will Lew. Half the surprise was his presence at our table, what a nice man, and the other half of the surprise was that he brought with him a pet project. A large marble bowl with moss and rocks that had been filled with water and frozen like a winter pond! It was made to carry two very special oysters; Kusshis with cured salmon that were simply delicious.
Our appetizers followed: the Savoury Macaron and Forest Mushroom Tart. The macaron, semi sweet, came piled with caviar, smoked salmon, scallop mousse, roe, crème fraîche, tiny, edible flowers and micro dill. It was delicious with a little bit of sweet and the explosive flavour of the smoked salmon, incredibly fresh, and the delicious crème fraiche. It was very satisfying! If you're a regular reader you know that I hate mushrooms. Bad childhood experiences with those horrid canned 'mushrooms' coupled with a traumatic visit to a mushroom farm *shudders*. BC Winter Mushrooms, as served in this decadent tart, may have saved me from an upbringing of fungal fear, but, alas, the past can't be rewritten. Add in the fromage frais, chestnuts, wild onion, yet another childhood nemesis, sweet elderberry and spruce and this tart is incredible! The mushrooms had a lovely flavour and texture and blended wonderfully with the cheese and onion, worth a trip on its own! These dishes were expertly paired with a Cedar Creek Pinot Gris 2012 and was the perfect start to our culinary adventure.
The entrées came out with a lovely Cedar Creek Pinot Noir 2014 which was beautiful. I ordered the Wagyu Short Rib and JC had the Maple Ash Lingcod. The lingcod came with a king crab bisque, smoked oyster cream, shallot petals, sunchoke, violet endive and dulse. The king crab bisque and smoked oyster cream could have been a meal all on their own, incredible! The fish was browned perfectly and was a very lean, fresh cut. It paired well with the Pinot Noir, but the Notch 8 sommelier Jean-François was gracious enough to come to our table and suggest a Reisling that paired perfectly with Jenn's Lingcod. She of the white wine preference was very grateful to get it and the Tantalis Reisling 2015 from Kelowna was a bit sweeter and delicious.
The short ribs came out accompanied by truffle, marrow-pumpkin puree, chanterelles, red winter wheat berries, huckleberry-black garlic-aged balsamic and cipollini. Unbeknownst to me wagyu is Japanese for 'Japanese cow'. Yup. I've eaten wagyu many time and always assumed, like Kobe beef, it was named for some region of Japan and received Daily sake massages, but that is not the case. The beef gets its reputation, not to mention its incredible taste and luxury price point, from its predisposition to marble. Marbling is the way the fat spirals throughout the meat and leaves the meat incredibly tender as it melts during cooking. This dish is a near perfect 10/10, stop reading and head to Notch 8 right now!
The desserts came out with a 2014 Cedar Creek Merlot which was very smooth and hit the spot. Notch keeps it simple only offering one dessert option. If you've been to Notch's Dine Out you know that dessert is like putting one more straw on a camel's back before it breaks, so much food! They served us each a Brie Walnut Ice Cream which they made in-house. It comes with black current gelee, nut wafer and fingerlime and to say it is good ice cream is like saying Michael Jordan was a good basketball player or that Wayne Gretzky had good hands with the puck. It is great ice cream, amongst the best I've ever had, and works wonderfully with the the nut wafer and fingerlime.
All of a sudden, before we realized 3 hours had passed, it's 10 o'clock and the lights go down at Notch 8. No, we aren't being asked to leave, but we are being asked to enjoy the sexy, sultry vibe as dinner hour makes way for cocktail hour. The live musician takes his cue and smooth jazz fills the air. We sip contently on our Merlot as an elegant, embroidered box passes by. "What is that?" we wonder to ourselves. Literally one second later Sherrie comes to see how we are doing and we ask her. It's Notch 8's Old Fashioned Dice Game. Roll 3 die and the first dictates the whiskey, the second the syrup and the third the bitters. Well we better try. Just for the completeness of the review. An old fashioned is one of those cocktails that your grandpa probably liked and wouldn't be out of place in a 1920's speak easy, but is making a comeback in a major way because of its simplicity yet complex flavours. There's no wrong roll as both mine and Jenn's drinks were very good plus if you roll 8 during Happy Hour the drink is on the house!