Wildlight is a brand new restaurant on the UBC campus. It is part of the Leləm̓ Village development, between the University Endowment Lands and Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Both the menu and space at Wildlight reflect the restaurant’s lush surroundings of temperate rain forest.
Depending where you are in the city, UBC can seem very far away which is precisely why the area has been woefully forgotten. Land & Sea, at 57th and Arbutus, is another welcome West Side addition. Otherwise, the fine dining options used to be few and far between.
Home on Native Land
Leləm̓ Village is owned by the Musqueam Capital Corporation, which is the development arm of the Musqueam Indian Band. Leləm̓ means “home” in the Musqueam language. Besides the new homes at Leləm̓, and the Wildlight restaurant space, there is a community centre, a plaza with water features, and an Urban Fare grocery store.
Wildlight’s Executive Chef Warren Chow is familiar with the best of BC’s produce, having grown up in Vancouver, and then spending time in restaurants that cultivate the flavours of our terroir, such as Mission Hill Family Estate Winery. Most recently, he held the Executive Chef title at Juniper Kitchen & Bar, as well as Bauhaus.
Wildlight’s Local Liquors and Wines
The cocktails at Wildlight are specifically designed by bar manager, Aman Nijjar, to celebrate local distilleries, such as Odd Society and Shelter Point. Chef Chow encouraged Nijjar to create a cocktail to have on tap. The Chef’s Choice is kind of like a white Negroni, with a refreshing mix of Ampersand Gin, Cocchi Americano, Cognac, and St.Germain’s Elderflower liqueur. The wines are exclusively from BC, something that was important to sommelier Mike Cooke, formerly of Café Sydney and Chambar. The food and beverage menus are modern and seasonal. Both express the proximity of the restaurant to the forest and coastline.
Wildlight occupies a fresh new space with floor to ceiling windows that look out on the Leləm̓ Village plaza. Architectural light features span the ceiling adding layers of texture. The use of light wood brings a beachy feel to the space. And, with a name like Wildlight, a neon light declaring the name is an essential design feature.
Celebrating West Coast Bounty
Highlighting the bounty of Vancouver’s coastline, Widlight is serving a creative take on the charcuterie board: a pescatarian board. It comes with housemade salmon pastrami, beet cured ling cod, marinated Salt Spring Island Mussels, smoked albacore tataki, creamy cod rillettes, warm olives, poppadom and crispy, deep fried nori crackers.
Fresh oysters are on the menu, as well as broiled oyster motoyaki with uni mayo topped with a bacon crumb. The seared Hokkaido scallops with lobster risotto is one of my favourite dishes. The impressive squid ink tuile adds drama. The colours on Chef Chow’s plates pop in a pleasing, mouth-watering way. The touch of pink radish brightens the risotto plate, just as the blushing pink of the house-aged duck contrasts with the deep brown of the jus.
The Fraser Valley duck breast comes with a crisp croquette filled with shredded, confited duck leg meat. The duck is served with a dijon spaetzle, as well as orange marmalade glazed vegetables, and a deep, rich duck jus. Wildlight also has a beef burger on the menu, as well as a vegetarian oyster mushroom burger. The use of local spirits in the drinks, also extends to the food. Sheringham Seaside Gin steams the the Salt Spring Island mussels.
Other Sweets and Treats at Wildlight
For those who want to finish the meal with a sweet drink, Wildlight has a nostalgic dessert cocktail topped with toasted marshmallows. The S’more Me More is made with marshmallow infused Odd Society Vodka and chocolate coffee liqueur. It makes for a great pairing for Wildlight’s desserts which include a coconut cannoli with lime marscapone filling, as well as a gluten-free honey cheesecake, a lemon tart, and a chocolate mousse.
Wildlight also serves happy hour specials daily which include their chicken wings, broiled oysters, and house burger. Brunch service also began at the end of February. Wildlight’s brunch features a crab cake benny with uni hollandaise sauce, salmon pastrami avocado toast, and duck confit cassoulet with a sunny side up egg on top. Local produce and proteins are featured just as prominently as on the dinner menu. It’s intriguing to see some of the seafood ingredients like the salmon pastrami make their way onto the brunch plates.
With so much rugged beauty to offer, UBC is worth the trip, and Wildlight is ideally located. Stop by after a visit to the Museum of Anthropology or the Nitobe Japanese Gardens.