Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Rangeland bison tartare, served with spelt crackers, is one of the best in Vancouver.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

2.5 out of 4 stars

332 Water St., Vancouver, British Columbia
Dinner appetizers and shared boards, $9 to $20; mains, $25 to $27
Additional Info
Dinner daily, 5 p.m. to midnight (lounge open until 2 a.m. Wed. to Sat.). Lunch, Mon. to Fri., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations recommended.

I would not usually review a restaurant twice in six months. But Blacktail has changed so dramatically – for the better – it deserves a second chance.

Let's start with the name, which used to be Blacktail Florist. Although ridiculous, it aptly reflected an identity crisis that tried (unsuccessfully) to reconcile nouveau-Scandinavian edible soils with molecular pop rock garnishes and a tiki lounge on the lower level. Tiki? Perhaps "florist" had something to do with leis and luaus. Your guess is as good as mine.

Now simply Blacktail, the restaurant has a new chef, new bartender and a new concept for the lounge, which serves as the test bar for an extremely promising kitchen that sticks to haute comfort food, local ingredients and classic techniques with subtle modernist flourishes.

Story continues below advertisement

Executive chef Geoff Rogers, a Top Chef Canada alumnus, comes to Vancouver from Calgary, where he honed his impressive culinary skills (which include whole-animal butchery and preserving his own produce) at such notable restaurants as Muse, River Café and Market.

Unlike many high-flying young chefs, he is well grounded in the basics. His Rangeland bison tartare is exquisitely cut to order so the edges are still satiny and the meat tastes robust. Precut tartare is one of my biggest pet peeves. If not served fresh, the raw meat begins leaching milky protein and becomes mushy. Mr. Rogers understands this. Garnished with a light splash of truffle oil, kale purée and buttery house-made spelt crackers, this bison tartare is one of the best in Vancouver.

Mr. Rogers also knows how to cook meat properly. Most restaurants today par-cook their proteins in sous-vide circulators – ostensibly to tenderize, but more so for convenience. When the meat has been slowly cooking in a sealed bag under tepid water, it does not take as long in the pan or oven. But the texture is sacrificed. It gets a bit gummy.

For the most part, this chef does not bother. His duck breast and pork chops are cooked from start to finish in good old cast iron. The traditional method may take longer, but the meat remains juicy and the fat is seared to melting, crispy tenderness. The bone-on chop is a fun play on a stadium hot dog, served with pretzel spaetzle, cabbage purée and pear mostarda.

When using modernist techniques, Mr. Rogers applies them intelligently. Take his Kusshi oysters, for example. He cooks them ever so slightly in a sous-vide circulator with a cucumber-horseradish marinade. The gentle heat lightly plumps the oysters while infusing the flesh with its own briny liquor. Some customers complained because they didn't like the texture, so he began serving them raw. But the sour cucumber-horseradish mignonette, portioned exactly the same as it was sous-vide, became overwhelming without the cooked brine. He says he has gone back to original recipe, customer complaints be damned, and I applaud him.

Heritage Angus beef short ribs are also given a 72-hour sous-vide bath. I like that he is trying to treat flavourful short ribs like steak rather than braising them into sticky porridge as everyone else does. And because this cut is not very tender to start, the sous-vide makes sense. But even though he sears the meat before and after, the thick cut lacks something. It could use a little Maldon salt for texture or perhaps a harder sear. That said, the dish's scalloped potato pave and Brussels sprouts are pretty amazing.

If dining in the lower lounge, you can try wild rice croquettes, bone marrow puffs, foie gras cinnamon buns and other test dishes that Mr. Rogers and his cooks are still tweaking.

Story continues below advertisement

A few of the dishes that have already passed go and moved upstairs to the regular menu could use a little more tweaking. Sourdough crackers in the anchovy romaine salad are thin and precariously sharp on the edges. Brown butter pappardelle with Parmesan cream, mushroom and textures of kale needs acid for brightness. (Kudos to the chef, nonetheless, for making both the bread and pasta from scratch.) Albacore tuna crudo is overwhelmed by smoked pork belly. A few small adjustments would transform all these dishes from very good to great.

And that's my prediction for Blacktail. With an entirely new staff, the service is still shaky. Arthur Wynne, who previously worked at The Union, Cascade Room and UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar, is a master mixologist. But his monosyllabic lounge-level bartender needs to grow a personality. And the room's plywood decor is still blandly unwelcoming.

But that chef is supertalented. I hope he does not go back to Calgary. With a little less second-guessing and a bit more time, he could become one of Vancouver's finest.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies