Bishop's, despite being opened the year I was born (1985), remains an impressive jewel in Vancouver's growing culinary crown. Although we are more partial to casual, easygoing places (Chambar, Maenam, La Quercia, etc) I can offer nothing but praise for Bishop's in the niche of fine dining. The city's restaurant landscape has shifted significantly away from top-end restaurants - notably West's sufferings of post-Hawksworth syndrome and Market performing better as a lounge than restaurant. Bishop's, however, has avoided the inevitable slide for the simple reason that they know what they do well and they do it at the highest level possible.
Service from the moment we entered the door was nearly flawless and they managed the restaurant with only four front of house staff. Advice on wine was helpful but didn't try to over sell and dealt with an allergy in the best possible manner. The lighting and music are soft. It's hard to imagine you are parked right on a busy stretch of the bustling W 4th avenue.
What surprised most, however, was the food. It's not cheap, coming in just under $250 for two with tip, tax and four glasses of wine. The menu can read somewhat traditionally, yet everything served was a sublime blend of high quality ingredients coaxed to perform at their absolute peak. Starters both featured spot prawns, not a surprise as Bishop's was and remains a pioneer in featuring local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. The salad was a hit with candied rhubarb and leak terrine forming a unique base for the prawns while the bisque, a daily special, was velvety and featured an outstanding fish stock at its core. Continuing on, the kitchen proved equally adept with both sea and land for the main courses. Perfectly seared sablefish and scallop, let me reiterate perfectly, was paired with radishes, black beans, and a bright vinaigrette - not your run of the mill seafood plate. Bison shortloin, an exact medium rare, was sliced and served over a heaping mound of cherry risotto with pickled ramps, roast turnips, sauteed greens and cherry jus. The meatiness of the bison was a perfect foil for the tart yet slightly sweet cherry overtones with the pickled ramp offering the occasional acidic bit. Although we were extremely satisfied by this point, dessert was ordered. Carrot cake with crystallized honey and ginger was absolutely moist and smothered in icing while the espresso flan was an ideal fix for the coffee inclined. Wines by the glass are generous pours but expensive. A well-balanced list that features a number of BC wineries fits well with the culinary experience.