It's been fairly easy to avoid meat for the last 12 or so years—save for an accidental Slim Jim or a bite of personal hero Graham Elliot's chicken while in the line of duty. I've never been one to really crave something meaty: existing somewhere in the vegan-to-pescatarian scale for a decade-plus has not ever felt like a true struggle, despite the beautiful pork chops, roasted chickens and steaks that make their way under my nose during my travels through Vancouver's restaurant scene and beyond.
But then I visited the Courtney Room, Magnolia Hotel's freshly opened brasserie run by Agrius alum Sam Harris—and I experienced a carnivorous temptation like never before: that siren of starch, the Potatoes Courtney.
"Oh, Stacey," you're probably thinking. "You've been a vegetarian for so long you've forgotten that a potato isn't an animal, you idiot."
Well, I would counter, they kind of are when you cook them just-so in duck fat and create the most elegant tater tots in creation.
It was almost like an out-of-body experience as I watched my fork scoop up some of the perfectly crispy potatoes with zero hesitation. "The duck would've wanted me to be happy," I reasoned with myself, consoled by the fact that the Courtney Room sources its proteins as locally as possible (Madrona Farm, Umi Nami Farm and Two Rivers Meats are among its list of suppliers) so the duck probably had a great life anyways before helping make these the finest potatoes I ever did eat.
Do I feel a little guilty? Yeah. But would I—after a couple of stellar cocktails and maybe a few plates of albacore tuna ceviche—casually suggest to my dining companions that they might enjoy sharing some and then maybe if one of these golden gems happened to fall onto my plate and then on to my fork and then into my mouth, chew, savour and swallow? Yeah. Yeah I would. Sorry, ducks.
Potatoes Courtney, $11, at the Courtney Room