Nightingale: Hawksworth Latest Truly Sings

Nightingale is the latest undertaking from David Hawksworth, Vancouver’s acclaimed culinary star. Hawksworth first arrived on the scene when he opened West Restaurant. At the time he was a virtual unknown. The West Van raised chef had been busy polishing his skills elsewhere. He worked in such esteemed kitchens as Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and L’Escargot.
Hawksworth went on to open his own flagship namesake Hawksworth, and adjacent Bel Café, in 2011. Both those restaurants thrived on their meticulous planning. And the new venture is no different.

Nightingale exterior on Hastings St.

Nightingale exterior, contemporary with a heritage twist

Nightingale is located in very artfully re-conceived premises of what used to be the University Club. Its ‘bones’ are now incorporated into Oxford Property’s MNP tower on Hastings St. just west of Burrard.

Nightingale Vancouver lounge

Nightingale lounge from above

The interior behind the original façade retains a polished heritage air, with lower level lounge below soaring ceilings and the expansive, mezzanine dining area.

The first thing that grabs you when you walk in off West Hastings is a sense of elegance, with library inspired furniture and already popular long bar

Nightingale lounge secluded end

A more secluded area of the downstairs lounge

Far from stuffy, though, it’s a reminder of days gone by with a distinctly modern feel. The design (by Studio Munge) is a deliberate nod to the original building’s heritage as a gentleman’s club.

Interestingly, the lounge suggests little of the main dining room above.

Nightingale dining room

Artful paneling, light wood and not a few bird sculptures

 

Nightingale long banquette

The centre of the room is dominated on one side by a long banquette

You might have a tough time choosing tables here. Cleverly recessed, cozy booths—a foodie’s delight—deliver a perfect view of the open kitchen.

Nightingale vancouver open kitchen

The open kitchen rules.

Anywhere in the middle of the room yields plenty of buzz. However, grab a spot overlooking the lounge to truly appreciate all that’s going on. Then again, considering how busy Nightingale already is, you may not even get to decide…

Nightingale on the plate…

The restaurant describes its cuisine as “modern Canadian” with a “social approach to dining”. “Honest and unpretentious dishes” are “designed to be shared family-style”. And “showcase local ingredients with global influences.”

Nightingale trio of small plates starters

A trio of small plate starters

In short, think the original Hawksworth’s unwavering approach to regional, seasonal and sustainable. But here  in a far more casual setting.

The mainly ‘share’ plates menu is divided into four groups: raw, vegetables, pizza, small and large. What struck me in particular was the good selection of vegetarian plates.

Nightingale Pacific Halibut ceviche

Pacific Halibut ceviche

A few of several highlights: Pacific halibut ceviche, finely sliced with lime, avocado, radish and quinoa. This is one of the prettiest dishes, for sure, and very much reminds me of Hawksworth. A delicious beginning.

Nightingale oven roasted turnips

Oven roasted turnips and their greens

Oven roasted baby turnips with their greens. It may not sound exciting but small turnips can be absolutely delicious. The tender greens are an added (very healthy) dimension. I love that they can be a year round proposition.

Nightingale pork belly with nectarine

A superb combination: pork belly with nectarine

Grilled pork belly with nectarine, white balsamic vinegar and pistachio. Well, there has to be pork belly, right? This is a delicious combination that’s perfect with a glass of Tantalus Riesling.

Nightingale maitake mushroom

The maitake mushroom—a must taste

The unexpected highlight, a deliciously nutty maitake mushroom, which arrives with pecorino, brown butter and hazelnut.

 

Nightingale Hazelnut financier and pot de crème

Hazelnut financier and pot de crème

From the dessert list:  (above) hazelnut financier with whipped espresso crème. I was also obliged to try the truly seductive salted caramel pot de crème with whipped crème fraîche, butterscotch and vanilla breton.

 

There’s more, of course, from smartly chosen local taps  (including a ‘Nighting-ale’ from Main Street Brewery).

Nightingale birdcages

The birdcage collection, a fun idea

And, yes, there are birdcages… a lovely touch of whimsy.

 

Nightingale wines in bucket

An eclectic list …

Bryant Mao’s succinct, eclectic wine list is interesting and smartly sourced. In an ice bucket downstairs, I spotted the exceptional Pazo Señorans Albariño nudging William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis. Plenty of interesting drops range from Megyer Dry Furmint and Clos des Fous Cauquenina, Carignan Blend to BC’s Culmina Grüner Veltliner and Coolshanagh Chardonnay.

 

Nightingale staircase

Even the staircase is beautiful

 

Considering the surroundings, service levels and sophistication, pricing is moderate ($12-$25). You could come here and order a couple of tastes and glasses and still have change from $100.

David Hawksworth has a knack for reading the times. Nightingale sports an upbeat personality in a classic setting. And its refreshingly uncluttered local plates avoid the usual, overworked hyperbole. It adds up to a sophisticated and satisfying downtown lure.

Nightingale, 1017 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

604-695-9500

www.hawknightingale.com

Open daily 11 a.m. – midnight

Nightingale entrance

 

 

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:04+00:00 July 6th, 2016|Belly's Best Bites, Dining|1 Comment

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.

One Comment

  1. Tawny July 17, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Just cause it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not super heupllf.

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