Brunch · Happy Hour · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Harbour Oyster + Bar – Vancouver

L wanted to go out for oysters for our last meal in Vancouver. I suggested Harbour Oyster + Bar on Commercial Drive because I read favourable reviews about the oysters and service. I really enjoyed their playlist. The music put me in the mood for a boozy seafood lunch. For this post, let’s listen to a song I heard playing – “Super Freak” by Rick James.

Harbour is a popular bar, and it was entirely booked by noon. The space itself isn’t large. There’s enough room for about 12 people at the bar and maybe six tables for around 16 customers.

I noticed Chris – the master shucker – worked hard to keep customers happy. When he wasn’t shucking all the oysters, he would also greet each person who came in the door, pour drinks, take food orders, answer the phone, and chat with us about Alberta’s seafood scene. Chris had only good things to say about Rodney’s Oyster House in Calgary’s Beltline district.

Harbour offers a wicked happy hour, served daily from noon to 5:00 p.m. I tried the Sumac Ridge Sauvignon Blanc and the Sumac Ridge Merlot (HH $6.50). I preferred the red over the white wine. Like Rodney’s in Yaletown, I noticed Harbour fills up the wine right up to the rim. L opted for a beer and chose the Harbour Lager (HH $6). L mentioned his beer was nice and cold.

For our lunch, I ordered the Mussels (HH $13), Lobster Poutine (HH $12) and two dozen Lighthouse Oysters (HH $1.50 each). First up were the mussels. Our order comes with 10 plump mussels and a slice of grilled bread. We opted for the white wine sauce, which I liked because the broth didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the shellfish. Each mussel was soft and sweet. Some of the mussels were the size of an oyster.

The Lighthouse oysters were salty and tasted like the sea. The flesh was crisp with a texture that reminded me of watermelon. Each oyster was large, with an enjoyable meatiness to it.

Our poutine arrived piping hot, with chunks of lobster claw meat visible in every crevice. Each fry was battered and extra crunchy, covered in globs of warm, gooey cheese. The lobster meat was plump and juicy, generously distributed throughout the dish. The buttery white sauce was sweet, with just enough creaminess to bind all the ingredients together but not so overpowering that it masked the lobster’s texture and flavour.

The oysters were excellent, but the highlight of our meal was the lobster poutine. L and I agreed this was one of the most delicious things we’ve eaten all year. I would love to return to try more of the menu. Thanks for the excellent service and food, Harbour Oyster and Bar. See you again when we return in 2022.

Restaurants · Seafood

Big Fish – Anniversary Dinner

For our eighth wedding anniversary celebration, I took L to Big Fish. I thought since we weren’t going to Mexico for our yearly jaunt of sunshine and tacos, it would be nice to eat some seafood and at least pretend we were away. So for this post, let’s listen to “Crush With Eyeliner” by R.E.M.

Big Fish is different from the norm. The restaurant is comfortable and homey. Our server Michael was well versed with the menu and wine list. I could tell he was no newbie. The customer base appeared to be all regulars, and as L noted, not a douchebag insight. I knew better than to take him to Cactus Club. This ain’t my first rodeo.

To start, L ordered a pint of Last Best IPA ($8), and I sipped on a flute of Pares Cava ($7.50). Next, we shared a dozen west coast oysters ($45). The Kussi oyster was smaller than the Fanny Bay, but the flavour was more intense and sea-like. The Fanny Bay oyster was meaty, mild in flavour, with a crunchy texture that reminded me of cucumber. I was impressed that we could get oysters that tasted this fresh in Calgary.

I read Google reviews of customers raving about the Warm Lobster, Crab & Artichoke Dip ($19), so I had to try it. I couldn’t taste or see the lobster and crab because of the thickness of the cheesy sauce. I could imagine seeing a recipe for this dip in my mother’s Better Homes Cookbook.

Michael picked out a dry white wine (Zestos, $12) to pair with the Mussels ($22). The broth was still steaming when our mussels arrived at our table. People always tell me mussels are so easy to make, but why don’t other restaurants make them like Big Fish? Each fat mussel was sweet and silky smooth.

L enjoyed the rich, fragrant broth of white wine, leek and creamy green curry. We alternated soaking up the sauce with the fresh bread that came with the mussels and the toasted bread that arrived with the artichoke dip. These were by far the best mussels I’ve consumed in Calgary.

The Fish Tacos ($19) were generously stuffed with red snapper, guacamole, lettuce and salsa. I could taste a slight sweetness from the tomato mango salsa and heat from the sriracha lime aioli. I liked how the tortilla was grilled and not dry in texture.

L wanted dessert, so we shared a slice of Pecan Pie ($12). I noticed the pie was heavy with the scorching hot pecans. L was a happy camper. I should encourage him to order dessert more often – he looked like a kid when he ate his pie.

L and I plan to return for the mussels, oysters and other dishes. Big Fish does seafood well, in refreshingly unpretentious digs. Hitting the Sauce gives Big Fish two phat thumbs up.

French · Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Cafe Salade De Fruits

L and I finished shopping in South Granville. Before spending the afternoon at Granville Island, I suggested we have lunch at one of my old haunts – Café Salade De Fruits. I’ve been dining here since it first opened, back in the early 2000s. For this post, let’s listen to Les Champs Elysees by Chantal Chamberland.

Located inside a French school, the atmosphere is cozy and quaint. The music is soothing yet energetic. The French speaking staff are professional and warm.  The day I visited, I recognized one of the original chefs and owners – Antoine Bonard – in the kitchen.

patio

We sat on the patio. I wanted a light lunch, so we shared a regular order of Moules Frites ($19). I ordered a glass of La Vielille Ferme ($10.50) while L predictably ordered a sleeve of beer ($10).

mussle

The fries were cut thin and short, with a crackling of salty goodness. I encouraged L to fork his fries and let it saturate in the broth. Friggin delicious. The fries remained crispy despite its creamy bath.

mus

The temperature of the broth was steaming hot and remained so throughout our meal. The broth was rich and fragrant with what I thought could be wine, cream, butter, shallots and lemon.

bread

The baguette was just as excellent as the mussels and broth. The crust was crisp yet chewy. The bread tasted clean, with soft, springy tissues.  I loved how beautifully the bread soaked up all the flavours in the broth. Our server saw that we finished all our bread and without any prompting, dropped off another serving.

sss

Despite how hot the broth was, each mussel remained soft and sweet until the very end. It’s hard to find a restaurant that can cook mussels properly. Too often, I find mussels are like rubbery bullets. You won’t find that here. This isn’t Salade de Fruits first rodeo.

end

The regular order was like a magical never ending pot of mussels. We were stuffed. L raved our seafood lunch at Cafe Salade de Fruits. I’m pleased that some things don’t change. I hope this cafe is around as long as I keep coming.

Cafe Salade de Fruits Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · New York · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

New York – Cookshop

After our meal at Tim Ho Wan, we shopped in Chelsea. We were still stuffed but Beep Beep had reservations at Cookshop. She wanted to go because Sandra Bernhard took Taste Makers here to eat tacos. Beep Beep was also impressed that Cookshop prints off a new menu every day based on what’s seasonal. What I love about about this restaurant is the superb service and how welcome we felt. For this post, let’s listen to Beauty and the Beast – “Be Our Guest”.

Beep Beep was enchanted by the enthusiasm of the male host – he practically sung his greeting. Our male server – also of Asian heritage – was quietly charming. The quality of his service didn’t suffer when we told him we were too full from our last meal and just wanted drinks. He smiled, nodded and told us to enjoy our evening. He didn’t try to push any extra food or drinks or rush us out. Now I get why Americans tip so generously. When the service is that exceptional, I’m happy to tip well.

menu

Beep Beep and I ordered six oysters ($4 each) and two glasses of white wine ($11) – Alvarimmo Nortico, Portugal 2017. The wine paired well with the seafood. There wasn’t much meat to the oysters. I wasn’t impressed and I’m from landlocked Calgary.

oysters

Beep Beep and I shared the Steamed Bouchot Mussels ($15). At first, I thought bouchot was a type of broth. Nope – it’s a method of growing mussels. This was one of the best things I ate on the trip. The sauce of Dijon mustard, white wine, chile and garlic was delicious. The combination of the crispy, buttered bread and that sauce was downright decadent.

mussels

Look how full and fleshy the mussels are! I’ve never eaten better tasting shellfish in my life. Each morsel was super fat and bursting with juice. When I told our server how much I loved the mussels, he brought over extra bread.

mussel one

Beep Beep said if she lived here, she would dine here at least once a week. She raved about the quality of the food, the value, and the taste. Beep Beep and I both agreed that when we return to New York, we’d come here for a full dinner and brunch.

After we left, we went to a subway to get a 7 day unlimited week pass. There was a man who offered to help and show us which button we had to press. He took three dollars from Beep Beep’s change and told her it was for a sub sandwich. When it was my turn, I blocked him while I bought my transit pass. As the change came out, he reached in before I could and said he would take three dollars as well. He was so pleasant about it, Beep Beep said to let him have it. I guess this is part of New York’s charm? Got to give that guy credit for hustling so politely.

Cookshop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato