As the new guy horning in on an established blog, it would only be apropos to review a dinner organized by another venerable blog - Chowtimes - at 12B, the secret ‘underground’ restaurant that recently received hype in the mainstream press.

12B works on a simple premise: organize a bunch of friends for a dinner party, scrape together $65 a head for a six course dinner, and pray that you know someone that can get a booking. That’s in two respects: (a) as a restaurant without any of the proper licenses or permits, Chef Todd, owner and proprietor, necessarily needs to know his clientele, and (b) the guy’s booked solid for months (at least for weekends).

That premise has been replicated and repeated by other chefs in town and elsewhere for the past few years, indicative of either an emerging new business model, a booming fad, or both. Ask Chef Todd and he’d probably disagree: my assumption is that he simply likes to work from home, and telecommuting isn’t an option.

The first course was a cream of asparagus soup with white wine and truffles “four ways” (truffle salt, oil, and, uh, a couple of other preparations). I worried at first that this would be far too filling with five courses to go, but the soup was surprisingly light.

This was followed with halibut seared in brown butter, served on a jardinière brunoise and quinoa, with a fennel, orange and poppyseed salad on the side. The brunoise also had bits of smoked bacon in it, which was probably more of a highlight than the halibut itself.

The next course started a wave of beloved meats. Duck breast was rubbed with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that tied a plate full of regional flavours. Berkshire pork came with spaetzle, cabbage and also a couple of apple slices flavoured with birch syrup, with a beer stein being the only missing element. Venison shortloin was served with blueberry jus, baby potatoes, minty peas and carrots. Each was great, though the first two tied together more thoroughly.

(While the apples were enough to make the pork dish my favourite, the carrots cut into Wu Tang logos made the venison dish the most entertaining. Where else can you eat in town while listening to Jeru the Damaja?)

The night ended with two ice creams (star anise and pistachio), shortbreads and glazed pecans. The pistachio ice cream was almost savoury, or at least not sweetened enough, which, after a few bites, seemed to be the point.

At that point, a guest book passes around, a subtle hint that the $65 ‘donation’ is due. For six courses, that’s a real steal, particularly when a similar dinner of this calibre at a proper restaurant would probably cost twice as much. After serving food like this for a couple of years, there’s a reason why 12B ain’t much of a secret anymore.



(Sorry, no address)


Ben and Suanne said... @ February 1, 2010 at 10:14 PM


For a moment it did not click even though you told me that you're writing on VSlop. I was looking at the pictures and was thinking "wait a minute. That looks exactly like the ones we had just yesterday. And Chef Todd told us that he doesn't make the same menu twice". LOL!

Nice pix. And thanks for coming out for the dinner. Suanne and I enjoyed ourselves in the company of such accomplished foodies.


Ed Word said... @ February 1, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Great to meet you and the better half !! You really are on top of things to have already put together a review. Looking forward to sharing another food adventure your you guys !!


Edward & Laurene

Unknown said... @ February 2, 2010 at 3:29 AM

hey it sreally so wonder ful article and it ha sgreat idea
Vancouver Flowers

Tyler said... @ February 2, 2010 at 8:16 AM

It really was a truely amazing experience. :)

Unknown said... @ February 2, 2010 at 9:39 AM

It was great swapping food experiences with everyone. You're pictures look great!
Arvind and Michelle

Street To Snow said... @ February 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcus said... @ February 2, 2010 at 5:22 PM

I love this concept. Vancouver needs more of it. Great review!

Rachel said... @ February 2, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Have you tried NFA with Chef Steve? I have been there myself and I highly recommend! Would love to see a review of it here!

Jesse Savath said... @ February 2, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Todd's a g and he has my art on his walls so im extra happy for the hyping on VS. Been eating at Todd The Chef's for years now and its always a great experience.

sampetrova said... @ February 3, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Great to play you and the improve half !! You real are on top of things to eff already put unitedly a refresh. Sensing assuming to distribution other substance task your you guys !!


Vancouver Flowers

Jonny G said... @ February 3, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Vancouver has some of the best Chinese restaurants known to man!

Alfred said... @ February 3, 2010 at 10:07 PM

Great post! Vancouver has awesome foods - hands down!

Checking back for more, keep the great posts and pix coming!

Marlo said... @ February 7, 2010 at 1:02 PM

enjoyed your review. looking forward to reading more from you.

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