Vancouver restaurants bubble with news
Story by Adrian Brijbassi
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Traditional summer seafood feasts are most commonly associated with the east coast, home to clam bakes, crab boils and a mix of lobster celebrations. Boulevard in Vancouver is showing the west coast can get down and properly messy with a shellfish extravaganza of its own. In celebration of its first anniversary, the upscale restaurant at the Sutton Place Hotel is hosting a series of Sunday Seafood Boils that may convince you chef Alex Chen has some Maritimer in him.
Served family style, the seafood boil comes overloaded with about five pounds of Dungeness crab, plus a pound each of mussels, clams, prawns and crawfish, along with corn and potatoes. A delicious cornbread made with bacon and jalapeño jack accompanies the massive pot of shellfish. And, of course, there’s drawn garlic butter to dip into. In all, there’s about 12 pounds of food to be shared by four people.
The meal also includes an iceberg wedge salad as a starter and a summery dessert, a blueberry crumble with elderflower ice cream. The cost is $49 per person with a two-person minimum. Boulevard serves the Seafood Boil each Sunday until August 30 and tickets are limited to 24 seats per event. If you’re visiting Vancouver in the next month, aim to get to one of these events. It’s unique to the city and fun, and you’ll enjoy the kind of great conversation that sloppy eating always inspires. Tickets are selling out fast; they can be purchased online here.
Royal Dinette Debuts in Financial District
Dave Gunawan’s empire of farm-to-table restaurants continues to grow. This time, he’s back in downtown Vancouver, where he hasn’t been since he opened Wildebeest as its first chef. He left that spot in Gastown to start Farmer’s Apprentice near Kitsilano, winning local and national praise for his ethically sourced cuisine and vegetable-focused plates. Earlier this year he opened Grapes & Soda wine bar next door to Farmer’s Apprentice and now the 70-seat Royal Dinette debuts with an answer for business lunch and casual fine dining in the Financial District.
In an area dominated by chain restaurants and food courts, Royal Dinette brings a refreshing awareness of sustainable agriculture and seafood harvesting practices. It features a pasta station, where agnolotti, gnocchi and pappardelle will be made.
The location presents challenges because of the needs of the clientele, says head chef Jack Chen, who has worked at L’Abattoir and Farmer’s Apprentice. “In the financial area, you have diners who want to be in and out in an hour during their lunch break. But we think the dinner crowd will be different and will be people who want to come out for a full dining experience. We think we can fill a gap here.”
Fergie’s Welcomes Chef Jason Nadeau
In Squamish, the big foodie news is the addition of Jason Nadeau at Sunwolf, the home of rustic lodges, thrilling white-water rafting trips and one beloved eatery, Fergie’s Cafe. Nadeau’s food truck, Locavore, became a big hit with residents and visitors to Squamish, and his move to Fergie’s could herald regular dinner service at the popular patio spot at Sunwolf’s Brackendale location. Fergie’s serves one of the absolute best breakfasts you’ll enjoy in British Columbia, with eggs arriving daily from a farm down the road and sausages made on the premises.
I tried three of Nadeau’s dinner dishes this week and they were exceptional, with incredible flavour balance. The cauliflower and chickpea salad with lemon-tahini dressing would fit in any French-focused fine-dining restaurant in Vancouver. Not surprising, considering Nadeau previously worked at Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill in Vancouver.
Nadeau starts work at Sunwolf this week, in time to prepare for the rush created by the annual Squamish Valley Music Festival, which runs from August 7-9.
Araxi Gets Into Sausage Making
Executive chef James Walt is hoping to expand Araxi’s in-house sausage and charcuterie plates. He and his team from the acclaimed Whistler restaurant have visited the Oyama Sausage Co., whose Granville Island Public Market location is always bustling, and expanded their knowledge of sausage making in anticipation of broadening the Araxi menu in the coming months.
“We didn’t want to go head on into it. We know there’s a proper way to do it right and we wanted to learn those techniques, then bring them into what we do here,” says Walt, who is preparing for Araxi’s annual Longtable Dining Series events.