Taking over La Régalade French Bistro in the Dundarave area of West Vancouver is a new restaurant venture from an industry vet, with an appealing focus on the flavours of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Called Terroir Kitchen, Chef/Owner Faizal Kassam says his cozy eatery is aiming to open in May.
It’s a bit of a full-circle for Kassam’s culinary journey, since he began his career as a dishwasher at La Régalade. “It’s right where the passion got ignited,” Kassam tells Vancity Buzz in a phone interview.
Kassam has had a role in some influential Vancouver restaurants since, including being on the opening team at the esteemed Hawksworth and the West End’s La Brasserie, and at downtown’s Italian-focused Cibo and UVA. Trained in French cooking, Kassam says he has traveled in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, which is what inspired him to craft Terroir’s concept and menu around the food of Italy, France, Spain, and Northern Africa.
On the small menu, Kassam explains diners will have their choice of smaller share plates (though not as small as classic Spanish tapas plates), and larger entrees. The fusion is in the concept, however, and not on each plate–you won’t see any national hybrids within each menu item.
Kassam describes the food as “rustic flavours [prepared] with new age technique.” For example, a century-old Bolognese recipe Kassam has had his hands on for some time will be translated in a contemporary way that still nods to its rustic roots. Among the modern tools in Kassam’s kitchen will be sous vide, which was “definitely not available back in the day,” the chef jokes.
The rustic meets modern vibe will reflect in the restaurant’s fully renovated exterior. They’ve essentially gutted and stripped down the existing space to give it a full re-do. Look for the signature blues of the Mediterranean, as well as earth tones, patterned tile accents, and more open space, as a few walls inside have come down. Inside the kitchen is all new equipment.
And it’s inside the kitchen when Kassam says he’ll be about 80 per cent of the time executing the food to match his vision, leaving the front-of-house to his capable staff. It’s his goal to give the West Vancouver clientele “a little taste of downtown without having to cross any bridges.” That said, Kassam points out downtowners can easily make the drive across the Lions Gate and a few minutes over to Dundarave to enjoy an evening at Terroir.
Terroir is also the language of wine, and the restaurant will have a focus on the libation. A small selection of primarily French pours is in the works, though Kassam promises a rotating “backyard” option culled from the vineyards of B.C. or elsewhere in Canada.
With an eye on keeping the prices comfortable for neighbourhood fine dining, Terroir’s share plates will be in the $11 to $20 range, and main courses no more than $27 to $30. Kassam says cooking for a 48-seat (plus a few on the small patio) restaurant allows him to also be able to source from smaller local suppliers, so his ingredients will be peak of the season and brought in fresh.
The restaurant will start off by serving dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with the plan to add weekend brunch service in a month or so.
Address: 2232 Marine Drive, West Vancouver