Review: YEW Restaurant and Bar, Vancouver

Hey, you! More like: Hey! YEW! The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver’s Yew Restaurant and Bar has revamped its menu. Following the trend towards sharing plates and lighter dining, new Executive Chef Ned Bell has taken the modern dining concept oceanwards, presenting an almost entirely seafood-based menu, much of it meant for sharing. Truly, the restaurant is back on the map of the city’s hot spots for dining.

If given the opportunity to live in a Vancouver hotel, most of those polled would likely place the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver top of list. With its prime downtown location (right in the heart of the shopping district), rooms that transcend comfortable, and consistently critically acclaimed food — who wouldn’t move in, given the chance?

Even hotels still earning all the top stars must change with the times, though. Facing the departure of long-time chef Chef Oliver Beckert, YEW was fortunate enough to recruit Food Network alumnus Bell, who was just wrapping up a consulting project at the time. As with cooking, timing really is everything.

Bell assessed the task at hand and, after meeting with hotel partners and staff , took the bold step of giving the menu a fairly radical focus. Ever been to seafood, Billy? First, the room was first updated with nautical notes, while Bell set out to source the best, sustainable and, where possible, local seafood. In late September, the menu was presented.

When you dine at YEW — and you will — bring at least a few friends, as the menu is great for sharing, although a solo diner could be satisfied with a simple salad, or chowder and a main. Start with a selection of oysters (do not miss the Effinghams from Barkley Sound). Next, order plates of perhaps the Dungeness Crab Salad, Lobster Poutine, steelhead Carpaccio — or Gnocchi Carbonera with black truffle, for something non-seafood. Mains could be anything from King Crab Legs, to a surf and turf of Octopus and Pork, and there’s a Roast Organic Chicken and a Rib-Eye for those who prefer to dine off the fruits of the land. Sides of fries, lobster salad, asparagus and smoked mashed spuds complete your dinner.

Nothing Bell does is ordinary; still, the chef’s menu could please an unadventurous dinner with many it’s items, still providing dishes that you won’t have seen at your standard seafood spot. The YEW experience is all about sourcing the freshest ingredients possible, dressing them up a bit and presenting them with a bit of a playful twist.

YEW has always been known for its drink list and bartender Justin Taylor, fresh off a win from a cocktail competition that will soon dispatch him to compete in France, always boasts a list that brings in serious cocktail devotees.  The wine program sees many local and international wines served by the glass from the Vinotech Machine, which preserves each bottle’s freshness. Better still, and if you promise to drink two glasses, you may order any bottle from YEW’s reserve list.

It’s worth noting that YEW is also a great spot for to grab a morning coffee and pastry, or to bring a brunch date (for a substantial three-course meal).  Lunch is busy and service can be swift if required; then again, there’s always a decent after-work drink crowd if you’re just not quite ready to go home.  The best deal of the bunch is definitely on Sunday, where all bottles of wine are marked down by fifty percent — a perfect opportunity to sip pricey Champagne alongside what you know must be the best seafood bites in town.

Image courtesy of Yew Restaurant and Bar.


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