Looking for Amazing Eats on the Westcoast
I am going to be making a trip into the Westcoast ( 2 days in Victoria and 7 days in Vancouver) and I am looking for some great meals while one my trip.
Some things I am looking for:
Great fish and chips: From past post's I get the impression that I should try wither Red Fish Blue Fish and Go Fish. Any comments on those two as of late, or any other suggestions?
BBQ Smoke House: I am looking for real classic southern BBQ. A hole in the wall serving up a great pulled-pork, ribs and all the other good stuff!
Charcuterie and Cheese: If any knows of some nice casual but classy spots curing their own charcuterie and serving good wines with them I'd love to hear any suggestions.
Seafood Chowder: Since I will be one the coast, any suggestions of good homemade seafod chowder would be great.
Looking forward to suggestions to what I am looking for anything above and beyong what I layed out!
I've only ever been to smoking bones in Abbotsford once, and it was amazing, more meat than I knew what to do with, and the flavors were great. Also the do local beers there and I think the raspberry beer was like drinking pure fruit, only beer.. hard to explain, but definately worth the trip..
I haven't had either of the fish and chips at Red Fish Blue fish or Go Fish, I usually stick with the Tacones but from what I gather the fish is nice and fresh, and for Fries I have heard raves about Red Fish Blue Fish.
For Charcuterie, Salt Tasting Room in Van (Blood Alley) my fave! They are really good with the recommendations with the meat, the cheese or the wine! and they have flights of wine so you can try a couple of different things. You can make up your own plates or let them pick for you. Always fun. (ask to see the Salt Cellar)
BBQ? hmmmm nothing sticks out in my mind but friends in Vic love Smokin Bones Cook Shack.
Other than that, Asian food is really good in Vancouver, Japanese or Chinese and Vietnamese.
What area of town are you going to be in? MIght be able to pin point more things given your area...
Fish 'N' Chips: Well, although I frequently recommend Red Fish Blue Fish, and though the quality of the fish they use is fine, I actually am not a big fan of the batter they use on their fish. Their chips are excellent, but I find the tempura batter on the fish is a bit too soggy for my liking. I like a crisp batter. In Victoria, I recommend Estevan Fish 'N' Chips, also known as Willow's Galley because of its proximity to Willow's Beach in Oak Bay. BTW, Red Fish Blue Fish is great for fish sandwiches; my wife really likes the tacones, too, and although I agree that the tacones are tasty, I am not a fan of the white flour tortillas that the restaurant uses.
I have heard a rumour that Willow's Galley is closed temporarily, so phone first before going there. If it is closed, you can always try Haultain Street Fish 'n Chips in Victoria; the fish is good, but not much else is.
I do not know about the fish 'n' chip scene in Vancouver.
BBQ: You are not likely to find any world class southern BBQ in BC. At least, I have not tasted any. Pig in downtown Victoria is okay for pulled pork, beef brisket, and smoked chicken sandwiches. Memphis Blues in Vancouver (multiple locations) is okay. Neither is anything special. Smokin' Bones in Langford (about 25 minute drive from Victoria) is a bit better, partly because the restaurant uses quite a few local ingredients and the owner is a bourbon aficionado, and the ambience is nicer, but overall I cannot recommend that you make southern BBQ a priority.
Charcuterie: It is the flavour de jour for restaurants to make their own charcuterie. As mentioned above, Salt in Gastown is one good option. If you wanted to go on a picnic (weather may start to be restrictive at this time of year) you could pick up a selection of excellent charcuterie from Oyama Meats on Granville Island. Campagnolo in Vancouver has house-made charcuterie that I found to be really tasty. In Victoria, I highly recommend the housemade charcuterie either at Paprika Restaurant in Oak Bay or at Stage Wine Bar in Fernwood.
Cheese: Lots of good cheese shops in both Victoria and Vancouver. I'll let the Vancouverites speak to their favourites, but in Victoria, I highly recommend a trip to Ottavio on Oak Bay Avenue, which, with 240+ premium quality cheeses, has one of the largest and best cheese selections in Canada. Some of my favouites: Avonlea Cheddar (from Prince Edward Island); Montgomery Farmhouse Cheddar; Bleu de Basque; Beemster XO; Bleu Gouda (made from goat cheese).
Seafood Chowder: I'm a bit stumped on this one, as west coast cuisine tends to embrace bouillabaisse rather than chowder. Chowder I associate more with New England. I'm trying to think where you could get a really good seafood bouillabaisse (if indeed that is what you want). I would try an online search of menus at some of the more reputable French restaurants in Vancouver and Victoria (i.e. Le Crocodile, Le Regoulade in North Vancouver; Chez Michel in Victoria; Restaurant Matisse in Victoria). The key is to find a seafood stew that features local, in-season seafood. So a bouillabaisse at this time of year would not have local prawns (unless side stripe are still in season?) Some good examples of west coast seafood you might find in a bouillabaisse: wild Pacific salmon; wild halibut; crab (although Dungeonness season is still a few months away); sablefish; clams; Fanny Bay oysters; mussels; rockfish; lingcod. Maybe email a restaurant or two in advance and ask if they use local, in-season seafood exclusively in their bouillabaisse. (Otherwise, you might end up with a seafood stew featuring prawns from southeast Asia, scallops from the East coast of Canada; farmed salmon; etc....)
Good luck. As starlady suggests, Vancouver is a really great town for Asian cuisine, and if you search fmed's posts you will discover a treasure trove of recommendations for all manner of Asian food (mind you, Vancouver is not a hot spot for Thai, Indonesian, or Malaysian. In general the strengths are Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisines).
Very recent thread here asking about fish stew:
You asked for places that cure their own charcuterie. The only one I can think of is Campagnolo, which gets mixed feelings on this board. Salt is fun though it's on a nasty alley and I find it overpriced. Another option if you're doing the touristy thing and heading to Steveston is to check out Gudrun. Much prettier setting for a similar type of venue, especially if it is nice enough to sit outside under the big tree. I thought it was a bit better value than Salt also...
For all Canadian cheese, check out Mount Pleasant Cheese on Cambie. They've just been taken over by a new owner who is making some changes and additions, such as adding a big ol' tasting table. They have evening events where they partner with Firefly Wines too.
I haven't been yet but Au Petit Chavignol is part of the Les Amis group and the cheeses from their stores are top notch.
I recommend Au Petit Chavignol - super service and tasty cheeses & charcuterie with well paired wines (which you can get i flights).
I had some Spanish Jamon Iberico de Bellota fairly recently there to see what all the fuss was about. They also serve local salumi from Moccia, etc. It is sometimes a bit tough to navigate the confusing (to me) menu.
If you want to buy local, artisinal charcuterie (rather than eat in) then I recommend Moccia (Hastings St) and JN&Z (Commercial Dr).
grayelf mentioned Steveston which also happens to be a bit of a Fish and Chips destination. My favourite there is Dave's for their thin and not greasy batter.
I'll second fmed's recommendation for Au Petit Chavignol. Better value than Salt and more variety. The menu is a bit cumbersome, but when I went for the first time, the server went through everything with us personally (which took awhile!). I need to go back there! If you are looking to buy cheese and charcuterie, the big sister to APC is Les Amis du Fromage and their best location is right beside APC. They sell Moccia and the Cure salumi. The Cure is the "brand" that Robert Belcham of Fuel and Campagnolo are selling their charcuterie under. The cheese selection is fantastic as well. JN&Z on Commercial also make a fantastic selection of meats. I can comfortably state that their smoked pork loin is by far my favorite local meat. Oyama on Granville Island also has an amazing selection of cured meats. Their prosciuttos are fantastic (the Grand Fir prosciutto is cured with fir needles... a really interesting experience!).
As much as I love Salt, I find their selections don't change that much and they don't stray too far from the beaten path. The lunch sandwiches though are fantastic value and are some of the best I've had. It is in a sketchy alley in Gastown, but if you're taking a cab, they'll drop you off right in front of the door. I've never had any problems (I live around the corner), but it's not the prettiest spot.
Barbecue is a rare beast in Canada, let alone in Vancouver/Victoria. Dix isn't bad in Vancouver, but I'd be fairly hesitant to go out of your way to eat barbecue in this town. Pig in Victoria, as mentioned before has decent pulled pork sandwiches for really cheap. Cornbread is good there too.
I love both Red Fish Blue Fish and Go Fish. I really think Go Fish is a must do in Vancouver for tourists since the location and experience of eating fish and chips at the wharf is awesome. However, I prefer the food at RFBF though the menus are very similar. There wouldn't be any harm in eating at both though! Lineups at both are usually fairly lengthy.