Located in the Listel Hotel, Forage Restaurant follows in the recent trend toward sourcing local ingredients from small producers as much as possible, working with ingredients that are currently in season. On the regular menu, you’ll find Qualicum scallops, Rangeland elk, kale and apple chips, foraged and cultivated mushrooms, artisan cheeses and a selection of mostly Okanagan wines. The ambiance can be best described as upscale casual with a large bar in the middle, surrounding by tables sans tablecloth. But how was the food? Let’s have a look.
While I wished there was more “soup” to this chowder, I was very happy with the bounty of seafood contained within. The chowder is nice and hearty, pleasantly accented by the smokiness of the chicharon. This is a great meal starter on a chilly winter evening.
Bison is generally leaner and “meatier” than its regular bovine equivalent. Visually, this appeared to the case with the carpaccio, but it was not as noticeable in terms of flavor and texture. This isn’t really a bad thing, as this was still a very pleasant dish that was well balanced with the crispiness of the parsnip and the acidity of the pickles.
Comparisons to Chinese-style roast pork (siu yuk) are unavoidable. The pork belly here is understandably very similar, but I found the meat to be a little more tender and the skin was very crispy without being too hard. The apple slaw is a natural accompaniment to the pork and while the cabbage was nothing special, it complemented the overall dish quite well.
If it were not for the larger piece of salmon and the lack of some sunny side eggs, I’d almost think this was a breakfast dish. It’s the hash browns, I tell you. The salmon itself was cooked somewhere between a medium-rare and a medium, giving just enough of a crispness to the outside to balance with the smooth texture within.
If you replaced the little “French Toast” nuggets with some graham crackers, you’d swear that you were eating s’mores. The drinking chocolate was wonderfully rich without being too sweet, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of the pieces of popcorn on top.
This was easily the less desirable of the two desserts. The smear across the back of the bowl is not at all visually appealing and the sponge cake-like financier wasn’t really anything special either.
From Farm to Table
Forage didn’t exactly blow my mind, but I didn’t leave all that disappointed either. The restaurant is not as large as it appears from the outside, but it is a great space with some TVs surrounding the bar in case you catch the game. Service was friendly and attentive, but we did feel a little rushed. This could be simply due to the crunch of the DOV crowd and the innumerable reservations.
If you’re looking for something a little different and a little more local than your typical casual dining chain restaurant, Forage is a good option to consider. The menu is interesting and the food is generally quite good. I would still say that Fable Kitchen is better with its farm-to-table and nose-to-tail kind of approach, but you can certainly do a lot worse than the reasonably-priced Forage when you’re in the middle of downtown.