Restaurant Preview: Royal Dinette

The latest room from chef David Gunawan (Farmer's Apprentice) opens this week.

The latest room from chef David Gunawan (Farmer’s Apprentice) opens this week.

Royal Dinette, the new venture from David Gunawan—chef and owner of Farmer’s Apprentice (a former Vancouver Restaurant of the Year) and Grapes & Soda—aims to bring farm-to-table dining to downtown’s Financial District. Sharing space with the Donnelly Group’s Blackbird Public House, the styling of the room is a little more sophisticated (read: French) than that of his other eateries, featuring gold podiums adorned with small gold-plated stag heads complementing the original black-and-white marble tiling of what used to be Blackbird’s main bar.The Royal Dinette team is full of familiar faces from Vancouver’s dining scene: bar manager Wendy McGuinness (Chambar) joins hosts Chen-Wei Lee (Bao Bei) and Jonathan Therrien (L’Abattoir, Chambar, Café Medina), and chef Jack Chen (Farmer’s Apprentice). While reservations aren’t accepted, an area off to the side has been designed specifically for guests to enjoy a drink while they wait for a table. (Above it is a sign emblazoned with the slogan On prend l’Apéro—a traditional French saying meaning “Have a drink before dinner.”)A sophisticated cocktail menu (think French 75, Amaro et Café, Pastis et L’eau) complements a quirky wine list compiled by Matt Sherlock (who also curated the list at Burdock & Co.). For the solo diner who wants to grab a quick bite at the chef’s table overlooking the butchery station, lunch items include a fennel salad with vadouvan, chickpeas, yogurt and mint; and potato gnocchi with spiced beef brisket, maitake, and garlic chives. (Two courses are $25; three are $30.) The dinner menu is predictably seasonal, and currently features items such as Dungeness crab, heirloom tomatoes, dashi, and shiso, served as often as suppliers can provide for the demands of the 70-seat room.Royal Dinette905 Dunsmuir

The kitchen has been designed as an open concept working space, meaning guests can keep a keen eye on chefs as they work.

Smoked Castelvetrano Olives, Orange, Fennel ($5).

Bar Manager Wendy McGuiness has an impressive array of spirits from which to concoct an extremely varied cocktail menu.

The setup is located on the main floor of The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar, owned by the Donnelly Group which will act as a silent investor in the new venture.

An impressive in-house pasta bar greets diners as soon as they walk in the doorway, sending a clear message about how fresh the menu is.

Ricotta Agnolotti, Summer Squash, Speck, Morels ($18).

Organic Chicken, Zucchini, Chrysanthemum Jus.

From left to right: Chef Jack Chen, host Chen-Wei Lee, bar manager Wendy McGuiness, host Jonathan Therrien, and Chef/Owner David Gunawan.