Fifteen years ago, if you mentioned to someone that you wanted to eat at a high-end vegetarian or vegan restaurant in Vancouver, they likely would have laughed at you. The times have changed, thanks in part to restaurants like The Acorn.
The Acorn is located on Main Street, just north of King Edward Avenue. Its sign is a brightly lit rectangle with a contour line drawing of an acorn: an elegant and clever way to let the image convey the name. Behind the simple sign, we find a modernist take on a nature theme, which is carried throughout the restaurant’s décor.
Once inside, black velvet curtains cover the entrance, insulating guests from the cold weather. Arrive early as they do not accept reservations for parties of less than six. We chose to wait for our table (an hour-and-a-half wait). But after sipping fresh lemonade and bright golden ale and eating complimentary spiced walnuts, our wait ended, and our attentive hostess escorted us to our table.
Our food arrived quickly. We started by sharing a large kale salad. The mix of fresh, young purple and dinosaur kale proved to be the perfect vessel for the creamy cashew dressing. Fried capers and slices of black olives delivered deep bursts of salty, oily mouthfeel, weaving harmoniously into the dressing. The cubes of warm tempeh added a flavourful and hearty contrast, and the paprika croutons topped the salad with a smoky, sweet crunch.
The showstopper was the pan-fried ricotta gnocchi on a bed of coffee-flavoured celeriac purée sprinkled with hazelnuts. The hazelnuts contrasted the gnocchi’s soft centre with a buttery crunch. The subtle coffee notes carried throughout the dish and mixed perfectly with the luscious gnocchi.
To satisfy our naughty cravings, we ordered the beer-battered halloumi. It arrived stacked on top of a potato zucchini pancake and a base of mashed peas and mint yoghurt. (This is the perfect vegetarian alternative to fish and chips.) Next, we feasted on truffle and cheddar mac and cheese: a delicious entrée made with puréed and pickled cauliflower (a vegan option is also available).
We finished our meal with coffee and the raw raspberry cashew cheesecake with an almond coconut crust. Our bellies were full and satisfied, and the wait for our table seemed like a lifetime ago. If dining later in the evening, The Acorn’s latenight menu offers you a chance to sample some of these tasty treats and delicious cocktails after 10pm.