The Best Thing I Ate All Week: Butter Beef Tataki From Dovetail

I have beef with this new Yaletown restaurant. In a good way.

Dovetail opened in Yaletown late last year, introducing itself as a “California-inspired” restaurant. I remember struggling to interpret that—what exactly is Californian food? My first thought was some kind of avocado-and-chicken burger situation. Maybe smoothies à la la Erewhon (in case you haven’t heard, that’s a Whole Foods-esque American supermarket where they $18 USD smoothies made of Hailey Bieber’s skin or something). Or California rolls? Nah—we all know those were invented here by Tojo-san.

It’s not mentioned in this story, but Dovetail’s mushroom toast was also delicious—think soft brioche that’s expertly grilled for a crispy exterior, covered in hearty duxelles and a decadent sherry cream.

What I didn’t expect to find on the Dovetail menu was pasta, focaccia and butter beef tataki. Perhaps Hollywood has given me the wrong impression—when I think of California, I don’t think of carbonara.

I ask the folks at Dovetail about this as soon as I sit down. They explain that the California of it all is more about a vibe than the specific dishes: they aim to create a laid-back atmosphere in which to serve their share plates. I’m not complaining. Give me tagliatelle over a skin smoothie any day.

The spicy vodka lumaconi—macaroni is dead to me.

And the pasta was fantastic—I got the spicy vodka, a shockingly generous helping of piping hot lumaconi noods (think macaroni but larger and wider—a dachshund/corgi situation) smothered in creamy vodka sauce. I genuinely could not believe how large the portion size was—we’ve all been to those “family-style” dining spots that have dishes so small they’d spark a years-long sibling argument—for $29, this dish could serve a good-sized helping to three people. It’s not particularly complex, but it’s not meant to be: it envelopes you in a spicy, creamy, cheesy hug, and is comforting and solid without being too heavy. 10/10 would order again.

The surprising star of the meal was the butter beef tataki. It felt a bit like I was cheating on Phnom Penh, the Cambodian/Vietnamese restaurant that has held inarguable butter beef supremacy in this town for years. I’m not going to compare the two—they’re quite different dishes, and I’m not one to pit two strong, independent beefs against each other. Not in 2024.

Beefy, buttery brilliance in Dovetail’s butter beef tataki.

But Dovetail’s butter beef tataki was really spectacular. Again, it was a generous portion, with thinly sliced, barely seared beef feathered in gentle overlapping layers over the plate. The butter soy sauce it rested in was god-level good. But what really sealed the deal was the crunchy fried shallots that topped it. Crispy, salty and joyfully umami-y, these shallots provided a glorious textural dimension to the dish.

No matter how you classify a restaurant, you’re going to get naysayers arguing with the categorization (believe me, I know—by the way, have you nominated in our Reader’s Choice Restaurant Awards yet?). Does it really matter how “Californian” the food at Dovetail is? Nah. It’s good. I guess that laid-back lifestyle is rubbing off on me. Cowabunga, dude.

Dovetail’s Butter Beef Tataki, $29

1079 Mainland St.