DesBrisay Dines

DESBRISAY DINES: Chef James Bratsberg proves his skill at MēNa


MēNa delivers on its sensibly short menu with such dishes as this sunchoke salad (Photo: Anne DesBrisay)

The last time I saw James Bratsberg, he was handing me a puck of salmon tartare and a platter of citrus dusted B.C. oysters. That was sometime in early 2013, when Bratsberg was the chef in charge of the raw bar at Restaurant E18hteen. He looked about 12. But the kid could clearly plate some fetching uncooked food. So it was nice to see him resurface at MēNa, a new spot on Preston Street place, to learn that he can work with fire as well as the fridge.

MēNa opened in January without much hooplah. It’s one of a number of newish non-Italian places on the Preston Street strip, done up in cool tones with warm lights. White-washed barn boards brighten the grey and black, while dozens of hanging filament bulbs and mod chandelier give the L-shaped room and long bar a lovely glow. Fresh flowers in glass jars and starched white serviettes on shiny black tables make it feel loved.