Market’s new chef makes the menu more local

Jean-Georges Vongerichten tipped his three-star Michelin chef’s hat to his first restaurant in Canada in 2009, but Market by Jean-Georges has undergone some subtle yet notable changes of late. The Shangri-La Hotel’s restaurant—a high-octane vision of gold columns and velvet banquettes—now has a more generous dollop of B.C. flavours, thanks to new executive head chef Ken Nakano. In recipes envisioned by Vongerichten’s New York-based kitchens, the Vancouverite is swapping ahi for albacore tuna and giving more starring roles to root vegetables and game.

“It’s all about planning with the local farmers and producers and showing them off as much in the winter as in the summer within this classic menu,” says Nakano, previously at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia and Fairmont Empress. While he insists favourites such as sablefish and molten chocolate cake will stay, he generally sees “a freshening up” at the popular lunchtime haunt. 
BEST TABLE Unless you’re part of a pack and scored either the Market or Alberni rooms, the chandeliered private dining rooms, slip into a coveted half-moon white leather booth for rock-star seating–complete with a backdrop of golden chains.
MUST-TRY DISH While gastro-minded diners would revolt if lust-haves such as black truffle fontina cheese pizza and tuna tartare slipped off the menu, the kabocha cheesecake (with honey ice cream and ginger sauce) and venison poire au lard are seasonal crackers.
DRINK UP Market is rife with handcrafted aromatic gins such as the grapefruit-and-lemon-centric Endeavour (with green peppercorn, to boot). Its selection of non-alcoholic drinks is none too shabby, either, so sip on soda blitzed with exotic hits like yuzu fruit.
INSIDER TIP Tisn’t the season to linger while talking shop? Market offers an “express lunch” delivered within 45 minutes. If time isn’t money, however, move the party to Shangri-La’s Blue Moon Theatre and luxuriate in a late-afternoon film.