300 Reasons to Dine at Secret Location

There is something of the warlock about chef Jefferson Alvarez. How else does one account for the magical things that happen under his watch in the kitchen at Secret Location? Alvarez has always been a much under-sung innovator and leader on Vancouver’s edible landscape. His work with spruce tips, edible clay, and gooseneck barnacles, for example, presaged those ingredients’ popularity on local menus, and yet credit and fame seem to be lacking. Hopefully, with his latest endeavor, that will change. Alvarez’s 300 Dishes in 30 Days event has reached the halfway mark and is gaining momentum with each passing day.

The premise is simple. Each day, 10 completely new dishes will be launched as part of a grand tasting menu. There will be no repetitions for the duration of the 30 days. The goal for Alvarez is to push his own culinary limits, while also testing dishes for future menus. Each meal includes three snacks, two appetizers, two savoury dishes, a palate cleanser, and two sweet courses, as well as one cocktail and two to three wine pairings. Total cost? A very reasonable $75 per person, plus tax and tip, covers your food and drink for the night. You won’t know what you’re getting until it shows up on the table, but allergy sufferers take comfort; your dietary restrictions will be accommodated.

My experience one night started with an Italian 75 cocktail, made up of prosecco, gine mare, lavender syrup, lemon juice, and candied lavender bits. Snacks included crispy sustainable sturgeon skin with smoked paprika aioli and beef tartare on a housemade sunchoke chip with shaved truffles. Shaved elk and beets with dill aioli and black olive oil was a play of textures and flavours, and a visual puzzle, as the shaved elk and beets were indistinguishable. The mystery was solved, however, as soon as it touched the lips. The rich earthiness of the elk played perfectly with the cool beet strands. A standout savoury dish included confit of Patagonian tooth fish—otherwise known as Chilean sea bass. And, before anyone gets their sustainable knickers in a knot, we were presented with the bill of lading that had the sustainable certification stamped on it. Served in a lobster saffron broth with kelp vermicelli, it was a “toothsome” dish, rich yet delicate.

As for desserts, pastry chef Kira Desmond and her team are another unsung talent. Along the Mekong River was a combination of flavours found along the banks of this famous body of water. Blood orange and kalamansi sorbet, kaffir lime parfait, caramel tapioca and curried pistachio all dance together across the buds in an elegant waltz that created a silent table punctuated only by the heartfelt sighs of satiated stomachs. Fervent prayers were made to see this on the regular menu once the 30 days are done.

Running until February 15, there is still plenty of time to come in and experience this culinary adventure for yourself. On February 14, the menu will feature the colour red in every dish as a tribute to Valentine’s Day.

Reservations recommended and can be made by calling 604.685.0090.


1 Water Street | 604.685.0090 | www.secretlocation.ca/300



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Anya Levykh was born on the shores of the Black Sea, in what was formerly the USSR. The cold, Communist winters were too much for her family, and, before she was four feet tall, they had left for warmer climes in the south of ...

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