Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Chris Andraza speaks of his new job with a sense of awe. The executive chef at newly opened Fanny Bay Oyster Bar recalls travelling on a boating trip in the Strait of Georgia that hauled in the food he would be preparing at the restaurant in downtown Vancouver’s Stadium District.
“An actual farm-to-table experience is the appealing part,” says Adranza, who previously worked at Rodney’s Oyster Bar, the popular chain with outlets in Toronto and Vancouver. “Going out there and seeing the product I’m going to prepare that day in the kitchen is an experience I’ve never had before. It feels right. I will never have to worry about someone getting sick off our food because I know it is coming directly from the sea and sourced from our company.”
Fanny Bay Oysters is part of Taylor Shellfish Family of Farms, a family-owned enterprise that has been operating since 1890. The company, which goes through about 800,000 oysters from its farm a year, runs oyster bars in Seattle and is aiming to have multiple locations in British Columbia and perhaps eventually in other locations in Canada, where Rodney’s is the only recognized national oyster bar chain.
The dining room seats 50 and you can enjoy oysters from Fanny Bay for $12 per dozen. Other varieties, including the tasty Kushi and Miyagi, are also on the menu, as are delicacies such as Pacific geoduck — the pricey and phallic-looking crustacean that tastes a bit like scallops — and mussels and clams. Customers can order shucked oysters from the bar as well as cooked items on the menu, or purchase seafood and condiments to go from the shellfish market retail shop.
For visitors looking to taste sustainably sourced seafood from the Pacific northwest, Fanny Bay Oysters is a terrific introduction. Owner Bill Taylor says one aim of the oyster bar is to educate the consumer on what sustainable seafood is and why it’s important to appreciate even the most unheralded mollusk or crustacean.
“About 15 years ago was when more and more people started talking about sustainability,” says Taylor, who dubs his concept of Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market as tide-to-table dining. “The volume has gone up and the demand keeps growing.”
As for how best to eat an oyster, Taylor cringes at the suggestion of loading them up with cheese, hot sauce or any other topping. “The best thing to do is dip them in their own water and eat them right out of the shell,” he says with the wisdom of an experienced bivalve connoisseur. “That other stuff will ruin the taste.”
Location: 762 Cambie Street
Salads Grow Up at Field & Social
Salad bars have been around for decades, but it’s not likely you’ve seen anything in Canada quite as good as what Stephen Collins and Stefenie Milosz, a husband-and-wife team, are executing in downtown Vancouver. Field & Social opened early in 2016 and is serving large, delicious and inventive salads — feel like Smoked Tofu in an Asian-style rice bowl or Black Kale Caesar with applewood-smoked chicken? The open, well-designed restaurant is also showcasing local products at the same time.
Field & Social, located on Dunsmuir Street across from Holy Rosary Cathedral, has also added an online take-out option where customers can place their order through the Internet and drop in to pick it up when they’re ready. It is a time-saver as the restaurant has become a busy lunch spot.
Collins and Milosz have strong pedigree in the restaurant business, having co-owned Tight, a successful cafe in Copenhagen, the Danish capital regarded as a haven for foodies. With Field & Social, they’ve introduced an option into a segment of the culinary market that needed a fresh approach and appealing new flavours.
Location: 415 Dunsmuir Street
Opus Showcases Its Cuisine with Supper Series
La Pentola at the Opus Hotel has an intriguing offer you might want to indulge in when you’re in the area. The Sunday Supper Series occurs on the final Sunday of each month and features a themed, family-style dinner and wine-pairing feast that allows the restaurant to showcase its bounty of delicious Italian wines. In Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood, La Pentola is a lovely setting for a long table meal with clean colours and windows that peek up to the street. Sommelier Christopher McFadden worked a terrific selection of pairings to match chef Travis McCord’s dishes when I tasted the eight-course, vegetable-themed dinner in June. For details on the next event, telephone the restaurant at 1-604-642-0557.
Location: 350 Davie Street