For some, the most unpleasant part of any meal out is when it comes time to tip. Suddenly a number of questions arise: What's a fair amount to leave? Am I tipping based on the total before or after tax? Why does Canada have such a rampant tipping culture?
While the majority of Vancouver's dining establishments include a "add a gratuity" option for guests when closing out the bill, since opening last June, Folke in Kitsilano has ditched the tip. They've also ditched animal products, too; the upscale spot at 2585 West Broadway not only has a "no-tipping" policy, it's also fully plant-based.
The results: Folke is a relaxed but elegant dining experience where attentive staff and a talented culinary team deliver a menu of flavour-packed dishes where you won't miss the meat, or the tipping ritual.
The Kits restaurant is the first-time venture for chef-owner Colin Uyeda and pastry chef-owner Pricilla Deo. The longtime friends chose the name to reflect their shared desire to bring people together through food and offer a sense of community and connection.
What's on the menu of upscale plant-based food at Folke?
The 1,400-square-foot Folke, which is currently open for dinner service only, is a warm, intimate room. The menu changes based on ingredient availability and seasonality; descriptions on the menu card/website are scant, so you will have the opportunity to engage with your server to find out how the dishes are prepared. For example, the "Squash" dish, which is described as "daal, lemongrass, apple," is actually a half-dozen squash studded fritters. The golden-brown orbs have a crispy, salty exterior and a soft - but not gooey - interior, and come with a squash puree for dipping and a small salad of bitter radicchio and sweet apple for balance.
Another dish I tried was the Vietnamese-style tapioca dumplings with a mushroom XO sauce; these have a chewy, almost sticky texture and an earthy, punchy filling and come with bok choy and a gently spiced and salty sauce. The beets are done like a "tartare" studded with crunchy hazelnuts and topped with frisee, with house-made fried Italian "crackers" to scoop it up. Folke's Bolognese is made with lentil and mushroom and is deeply flavourful and warming, with chunks of veggies - but this was not a pasta dish, so take note if you're expecting noodles.
The dishes are designed to be shared; our server suggested a table of two should do well with four to six dishes altogether. Priced in the $18-30 range, a duo could enjoy a robust special occasion meal with beverages for under $150, all-in. That includes dessert, as well as beverage options like their housemade soda or a glass of wine; Folke's list includes regional gems like Pender Island's acclaimed Sea Star, for example.
Speaking of dessert, you will absolutely want to save room because co-owner Deo is behind some wonderful creations. I tried a rich, creamy chocolate slice with blood orange and a Thai tea sauce, and a parsnip cake (with an almost mochi dough texture) in a pool of sweet-tangy caramel made with umeboshi plum.
Feeling indecisive? Let the chef take the wheel. Folke's "Don't give a Folke? Let us cook" option is a multi-course tasting menu for $85 per person that also features dishes not on the regular menu. Kick it up to $135 for wine pairings.
When all was said and done and the bill settled, I realized I didn't miss animal products - or the tipping ritual - at all.
Watch: Inside Folke, a Vancouver vegan restaurant (with a no-tipping policy)
@forkingawesomevia Two things you will not do here: Eat meat or tip your server. #vancouverbc #forkingawesome #vegan #plantbased 🎙️@LindsayWR ♬ Caramel Latte - Prod. By Rose
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