On the Town – Cozy Carnage at Chill Winston

On a dark and foggy night last week in Gastown, Chill Winston revealed their new fall menu… and it’s far from spooky.

Actually, the menu is pretty awesome – especially the design.  The first thing you’ll notice are lots of fun graphic depictions of the tapas-style choices…  (A duck wearing a bra, for example = Duck Breast Salad, while an inverted wine bottle with horns =  the Bison Bourgignon.)

editduck breast      editbison

Clever marketing aside, the food is also delicious, the ingredients fresh and creative and the small-plate style makes it all easy to share.  Perfect for a cozy fall night.

Chill Winston has been keeping it interesting since the acquisition of their head chef and resident laugh-machine, Chef Derek Bothwell.  Always innovative, Chef Derek is not only a master of his craft, but a passionate food aficionado and super fun guy.  With an affinity for sourcing out high-quality, local ingredients, Derek makes it his business to understand his product inside and out.  For the past year or so, he has taken to curing and smoking his own meats in a secret corner downstairs and is hands-on in the selection and butchering of all of his meat. He has been known to bring home fresh product to work with (like, entire animals, much to his girlfriend’s dismay,) so he can create with abandon, to arrive at a well-thought-out, perfectly finessed version for his patrons to enjoy.

Under his direction, we got to sample some of the highlights such as the Stuffed Dates wrapped in Pancetta, the super-yummy Prawn Cakes and my new favorite, the Bison Maui Ribs.  These ribs come with a zesty chimmichurri and are so tender you won’t actually want to share.  Ever.

He and his team have become experts at creating rillettes and on this new menu, you can find a beautiful duo called the “Range & River”, which is a house-made bison rillette together with house-smoked arctic char rillette.  SO. GOOD.

There are some old favorites I was happy to see like the Poutine and the Mac & Cheese, which are always a no-brainer, easy indulgence as we head into ‘hibernation’ for the winter, and some fun new dishes that really stood out – particularly the Kangaroo Wellington!  My first time eating kangaroo – which was, in my opinion, as cute as lamb and as delicious too! (Sorry vegetarians.)

There will definitely have to be a Part Deux to this post, since, between the wine and the music, I didn’t even get to try the Chef’s favourite dish, “All the Rabbit” – A gorgeous saddle deboned rabbit, stuffed with “shallot, sage and mango goodness, roast and cured rabbit leg, rabbit terrine, green peppercorn sauce, and carrots, obviously.”

It was a perfect evening to highlight as the first post in this new blog, and I will definitely do a follow up soon on the rabbit and other features.  In the meantime, I would highly recommend hopping on down to visit the crew at Chill Winston for an unforgettable meal, and some of the best service in town!

If you want to compliment the Chef, you can probably find him at the end of his day, drinking a Stiegl at the bar, admiring his handiwork.  Just listen for the laugh… that’s how you’ll know it’s him.

For more on Chill Winston, follow them on Twitter & Facebook

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