The Oakwood Canadian Bistro has a big following in Kitsilano for Brunch. The line-ups prove it. What makes the Oakwood a must-try is their unique take on classics and their exceptional plating. The jury is still out for me on the food, though.
No detail is left to chance at the Oakwood. It’s a restaurant that knows what image it wants to craft, and succeeds on every level at doing just that. The room is inviting and warm. The communal table was buzzing with conversation, and the energy of a few family gatherings brought a great relaxed weekend vibe to a room that looked like it was on the verge of pandemonium.
The Brunch Bestie and I arrived for eleven o’clock. I was shocked that there must have been close to ten people already lined up. She wasn’t. We popped in anyway and it turned out that asking for a table for two was the easiest request they’d had in hours (or is that minutes?). It was hard to tell, as this is apparently the norm for weekend brunch.
Service at the Oakwood is friendly and accommodative. From the first minute we stepped into the restaurant, until we received our meal, everyone was attentive. That’s the problem; the place is so busy that service after that tends to slack off.
I ordered the mushroom spinach frittata with parmesan, roasted red pepper sauce, crème fraiche, and lemon brussel sprouts. The brussel sprouts were delicious, crisp, and flavourful. The frittata sat on the bed of red pepper sauce and it was also good. The presentation was exceptional, but somehow, the meal didn’t reach the same heights.
The Bestie ordered the corn beef hash with caramelized onion, roasted mushrooms, sous vide eggs, Dijon hollandaise and sauerkraut salad. What the menu doesn’t tell you is the sauerkraut salad means that there are greens in the meal and that everything is served layered in a bowl. (We expected the salad, in whatever form it took, to be on the side.) The Bestie had to send it back, as she’s allergic to greens.
Here’s the conundrum of the meal for me. We had to flag down the waiter as he was too busy to check in to see if the meal was acceptable. Once we did, again, his service was exceptional. He took it back right away and a new meal was delivered in a very timely manner. No fuss, no scowl, nothing. It was fantastic. Then we saw no one again unless we flagged them down. And that’s exactly what happened in order for us to get a coffee refill.
The Bestie enjoyed her meal. The Dijon hollandaise combined with the flavour of the roasted mushrooms and sauerkraut was sharp and bursting with flavour; creative, and oh-so-good. The corn beef was not chopped up but was presented in slices, so she had to cut it in the bowl. We both tasted it and came away with the same response; how can everything else in the bowl be so good, and the corn beef be so bland?
I should mention we also ordered the maple pork belly to share. It’s on the “Sides” menu. The maple flavour was great; the flaccid fat on the side of the pork was not.
The plates that passed us by were all beautiful, and I’ve been told a number of times this is the best brunch place in Kitsilano. I would have to disagree. Please don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to love about the Oakwood Canadian Bistro, and I enjoyed my meal, but it just didn’t “wow” me.
To be fair, perhaps the problem was the fact I’ve heard so much about this place that it elevated my expectations to an unfair level. The whole menu is enticing, and I think the Oakwood Canadian Bistro deserves a second visit, at least for the atmosphere and potential in the service.
Movie Recommendation: If you’re eating at a Canadian Bistro that serves pork, then why not follow it up with Porky’s, a raunchy Canadian made comedy from 1982 that introduced the world to a young actress named Kim Cattrall.
2741 West Fourth Avenue
Brunch Hours: 10:00am – 2:45 Saturday & Sundays – no reservations
Michelle Muldoon is a writer, filmmaker, and avid foodie. You can find her on twitter @chat2michelle.