October 23, 2010

food cart madness - fresh local wild

One of my rules is that I will not visit, let alone review, an establishment that has been open less than a month. I just consider it fair to give the staff time to get into a comfortable groove, and adjust the food as needed. It always leads to a better experience for all involved... or consequently, they close down before then...

I'm about to break that rule.

Fresh Local Wild is the latest food truck to wind its way into downtown Vancouver. It's based on bringing local sustainable and seasonable food to our streets, at an affordable price. The man in charge is Chef Josh Wolfe, formerly of the Glowbal Group's flagship Coast Restaurant on Alberni, which brings some hefty credentials. He and his partners launched Fresh Local Wild only yesterday, but the local Twitter-verse is already abuzz with their arrival.

The menu consists of sandwiches with seasonal ingredients, as well as a regularly-changing poutine. There's smoked wild coho salmon (from Organic Ocean), a venison burger, deep fried oyster po'boy, and chanterelle mushroom poutine. All the food is heated and assembled a la minute when you order it. There's a grill and a deep fryer in there (and it was sooooooo clean - heaven to anyone who's worked in a professional kitchen).

I ordered the venison burger, a side of poutine (of course!) and their homemade lemon-lime soda. They started prepping everything immediately, including dropping the fries into the fryer, and MAKING the soda right then and there! The burger came topped with lettuce and tomato, as well as a flavourful aioli. I'm going to speak on this for a sec. Overdoing sauce in a sandwich is one of my greatest pet peeves. It takes a surprising amount of skill to control how much sauce goes onto the bread to perfectly balance flavour with moisture. Far too many people put so much sauce that it's all you taste, or so small an amount that it's a non-factor. Chef Wolfe does it perfectly.

The burger itself was a little dry, can't control that - venison is very lean and burgers have to be cooked well-done. The most important thing is the flavour - it was certainly there and the typical venison gamey-ness was muted. The aioli added moistness, as well as a mild acidity to counteract the meatiness of the burger. I was quite happy with it. Only thing that stopped me from hoovering it down was the amazing poutine beside it.

The fries were sooooooo crispy. Nice and thin, double-fried, then topped with the housemade chanterelle gravy (seriously high-end culinary stuff going on here!) - with big chunky curds on top. Sure you have the purists who like to have the cheese melting before tucking into it, but this was too good. This is now the best poutine I've had in Vancouver, beating out Fritz, Belgian Fries, Crave's short-rub poutine, and Chambar's lobster-bleu cheese poutine.

The lemon-lime soda was okay, nothing special. Best way to describe it was a mix of lemonade and limeade soda, but refreshing nevertheless.

My friend ordered the fried oyster po'boy. I didn't have any of it, but he was quite happy with it, once he finished scarfing down his poutine.

Organic Ocean was hanging around and I got to chat with him while waiting for my food. I've promised him that I'll order the smoked coho next time I come by, which will be very soon.

I'm ecstatic that we finally have a food cart that fulfills their true potential - restaurant quality food, served quickly enough, prepared with skill and talent, and at an affordable price. A sandwich, poutine and drink cost me $12 total, and I was full. That's an absolute bargain. You'd have to pay at least $8 more at any restaurant for what I had, and I'm not about to compare them with a fast food joint.

Go check out Fresh Local Wild in front of Sears on Granville St, by the Robson entrance. They're currently there Tuesday to Saturday, from lunch until late.


Fresh Local Wild on Urbanspoon

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