Judas Goat?!? This must be one of the weirdest names for a restaurant. Then again, Sean Heather and Scott Hawthorn do have another well recognized but equally strangely named Salt Tasting Room (wine bar, nothing to do with salt). Interestingly enough, these two restaurants are located right next to each other in the (in)famous Blood Alley. This 28-seat hidden gem packs a punch and is rightfully getting a lot of hype.
Everything about this tapas bar is unique. It overlooks the courtyard of a social housing development; it suggests a time limit to its patrons; it has pretty much no kitchen; and most importantly, it gives me what I want – a well thought-out menu and a eclectic beverage list. The place itself is very small – probably smaller than the size of most restaurant kitchens. The space is nevertheless welcoming. The “kitchen” is in the corner of the room – with only a cafeteria-style toaster oven, a sous-vide machine, and a couple of induction stoves. Most of the food is prepared and cooked at Irish Heather’s kitchen.
Of the dishes that I sampled, the bruschetta was satisfying and started my palate just the right way. I had the one with Chorizo, caramelized onion & dark chocolate… delectable. Foie Gras with Rhubarb Foam and Rabbit Rillette with Carrot Panna Cotta stayed true to the ingredients while creative. The highlights of my visit were definitely the Brisket Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce and the Braised Pork Belly, on Onion Puree with Pine Nut/Orange Gremolata. The meatballs were quite tender and moist, and the pulled beef brisket gave the dish a different texture and flavour dimension from your regular Italian meatballs. The pine nut and orange gremolata topped that piece of succulent and rightfully fatty pork belly. It was just delicious and proper.
All in all, it’s a fun and funky place for a drink and a few bites – exactly what a tapas bar is meant to be. Sean and Scott have definitely got this one right.Judas Goat Taberna 27 Blood Alley, Vancouver http://www.judasgoat.ca