Quite simply, Pitchfork has cemented itself as the top restaurant in Nelson. It isn't even close. This has been an easy conclusion to reach after having very in depth conversations about food in our town with hundreds of people this summer.
They have over half of the vote from all the guests at my hotel. It's to the point where I have started finding it quite fascinating listening to stories of the food and service upon my guests' return. Personally, I've never had anything but absolutely fantastic food when I have eaten there myself, so I already know what they're trying to convey of their experience, but it enables us to go really deep into the conversation. Those conversations unanimously lean heavily in one direction, that Pitchfork is absolutely crushing it!
Whether I have a reservation, or just drop-in, after I get settled at my table, inside or out on the patio, I will usually go stand just inside the entrance door, lean against the wall, and watch executive chef, Josh (Mateschitz), at the pass. His pass is inside an open doorway just off of the front entrance to the restaurant.
Watching Josh is great. I love it! He has full command of his kitchen, while simultaneously plating up exquisite food. It is easy to see why he is the three time defending champ of our town's annual burger competition.
He has a very high integrity, and that can easily be seen through the words of the overly impressive feedback from so many of my guests. It is impossible to get that kind of continuous high praise if the integrity is not there, so it's just implied!
Laser focus from the three time defending Nelson Burger Month champion, but that's only the beginning of what executive chef Josh Mateschitz has to offer at Pitchfork Eatery
(A post-edit... Josh just took down the annual Nelson Burger Month held in November 2020. In 2019, restaurants were gunning for him 'cause they didn't want him to win for a third year in a row, but they couldn't do it. Now, a year later, he still laid the smackdown on them yet again to capture his fourth consecutive win. His record speaks for itself.)
I must say, I love the intensity in his eyes while moving through a dinner rush. He just oozes focus, and the results of that speak for themselves. As much as I enjoy watching him at his craft, I can't stand there forever being a total creepshow, so I go back to my nice little peaceful table to sit down and wait for my food.
I just went to Pitchfork twice recently...once on the patio, and once inside. On the first occasion, I had the Braised Duck Leg. That was inside. One of the first things I noticed while I was waiting was the music, and how it seemed to hold the perfect rhythmic flow to go with everything within the restaurant. For some reason, I notice little things like that too...how the music fits in with everything. After all, it is the soundtrack that narrates the journey into the food experience that a restaurant delivers.
Pitchfork music = Check!
The duck might as well have been a club that Josh slapped me upside the head with, because when it was delivered to my table it knocked me right in the senses.
The duck wasn't the first thing I went for though, that was the Yam Puree. I didn't even think about anything else when my eye caught that. It had tractor beam-like powers the way it grabbed me and drew me in. I've become very selective of my first bite at a restaurant because that's when the palate is a clean canvass to explore the highs and lows of flavour.
The easy thing to say is, maaaan, did that puree ever not disappoint, but that's just short changing the truth. Its texture was so velvety smooth, and flawlessly harmonious in the flavour, that it literally made me gasp aloud as soon as it touched my tongue. I've never done that before, and truthfully, I never knew that could even be a thing, but I didn't hesitate to embrace the reaction that puree evoked! It was insanely good.
Braised Duck Leg with Yam Puree
I feel like art is meant to draw out emotion, and the art of food does that in a way unlike all other art because of the way it engages the senses. This yam puree was an artistic masterpiece, and it set the tone for the entire dish. Holy smokes! It forced me into some quick pondering...
"Do I even need to eat anything else on my plate here? Perfection has already been attained!"
Of course the answer was yes, but I went back for more of the puree before tasting anything else. I savoured that second round before I went into the duck. Mmmmmmmmm!!!
I wondered to myself some more, "did the puree just steal the show before the headlining star even got a chance to perform?"
A valid question!
The duck had something pretty strong to say about that though! It was beautifully tender and rich inside. It had a nice crunch on the skin from the perfect char. I have no choice, I have to say it again...
It was cooked perfectly!
The meat was moist, and it just slid off the bone so effortlessly. That's the moment when you see the skill in technique where you can take a meat and cook it so perfectly that it just melts. (There's that word again.)
So, it would appear that in the challenge of perfection, where the puree laid the benchmark on the dish, the duck refused to be upstaged, and announced loud and clear why it was the star of the show, and left me sitting in the audience with only one word to say,
The dish as a whole was a subtle hearty, but richly elegant knockout. Absolutely spectacular! That was the kind of dish that all backyard BBQ'r's strive to achieve, but never reach. It also shows exactly the merit in why one would go out for dinner, whether as a traveling tourist, or a local looking to embark into a finely executed culinary experience.
Dynamite patio that is backed onto park space and away from traffic
The next time I went to Pitchfork, I sat out on the patio with a friend. I took a total different direction for my order. Instead of the heartiness that is delivered through the duck, I went for the lighter Ahi Tuna Poke Salad.
Celline... I actually do have the odd friend.
Ahi Tuna Poke Salad
It was a nice refreshing style dish. I felt that the visual contrast from the tuna against the greens was something I needed to see because an inner whatever told me that it would be visually stunning. I'm also a sucker for avocado, so my intrigue was peaked from the allure of how the crispy avocado would present itself with the greens.
The result?! I mean, what can I really say?! The only way it need be expressed is that it was on par with the Braised Duck Leg from my first visit, and that left me with one word...
Onto the dessert. I wasn't really listening to what our server said they had, I just went with whatever the chocolate one was. I heard, 'chocolate,' and I said, "OK!" As simple as that.
Josh, you silly bastard!
Maaan, when it was plopped in front of me, and I saw that raspberry coulis like an almost motionless thick waterfall exploding in vibrancy against the contrasting chocolate torte, my taste buds kinda forced their will upon me to immediately start salivating.
Raw Vegan Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Torte
Sometimes the most complex thing can draw the simplest explanation. Digging into that dessert...
I actually didn't look at what it was til several days later...
"Raw Vegan Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Torte."
Celline chose the Hibiscus Creme Brulee for her dessert.
Hibiscus Creme Brulee
There's nothing else to say about the food at Pitchfork. There is, however, one thing left to address: The Homemade Ginger Ale!
Oh my freakin' goodness! It is like nectar from the gods! I had that at my first ever trip to Pitchfork, and it's the first thing I order before even looking at what food to get each time I have returned. Their ginger ale is completely out of this world! (Yes, they will gladly put rum in it for you.)
The quality of food I have had at Pitchfork Eatery, the consistency within it, add in the fact that Josh is the three time defending champ of the annual Nelson Burger Month, despite everyone gunning for him, and then take into account that over half of my guests all have it as the best joint in town leaves me with a full rounded understanding of its prominence.
I really shouldn't say anything other than that executive chef Josh Mateschitz and Pitchfork Eatery have lit this town ablaze in its magnificence! Bravo!
Reservations recommended (for inside)
518 Hall Street
Hours: 11:00am - 9:00pm Daily (closed from 3:00pm - 4:30pm most days)
Brunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm Daily
Phone: (250) 352-2744