Sustainable seafood never tasted so good. Living on the Pacific, Vancouverites have a healthy appetite for seafood. Can you imagine life without wild salmon and Dungeness crab? Didn’t think so. With an estimated 90 per cent of large, predatory fish already gone from the world’s oceans, we need to take action today to protect seafood stocks for the future. Luckily, there’s one simple thing we can do: Eat sustainable seafood. The Vancouver Aquarium makes it even easier with its Ocean Wise program, which helps restaurants — and in turn diners — make ocean-friendly decisions. All you need to do is look for the Ocean Wise logo next to a seafood item to know that it’s an environmentally responsible choice. Here, recommended restaurants that serve sustainable seafood and are Ocean Wise participants.
As the founding Ocean Wise restaurant, this False Creek foodie favourite has led the way in sustainable seafood, and its advocacy has gone beyond the plate. On May 19, the restaurant is presenting the inaugural C Blue Short Film Competition, an event celebrating short films on the subjects of water, sustainability and oceans advocacy. Executive chef Robert Clark, who counts cooking for David Suzuki as a memorable moment in his kitchen, is dedicated to sourcing seafood from our local waters and has even gone fishing with suppliers. And what does Chef Clark do with that superior seafood? Think clean, contemporary West Coast fare with a side of French flair (Clark is from Quebec, after all). The best way to experience C is by ordering the Chef’s Grand Tasting Menu — which currently includes Pacific Kiss oysters, B.C. spot prawns, wild salmon, Northumberland lobster and more — and enjoying it from a scenic window seat.
Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar
Fancy a jellyfish, periwinkle or sea cucumber? Every year, Blue Water executive chef Frank Pabst introduces diners to abundant seafood species while avoiding ones that are commercially endangered during his Unsung Heroes event. Pabst, a champion of coastal fisheries, is an unsung hero himself; 10 per cent of proceeds from his initiative goes to Ocean Wise. The February event has come and gone, but you’ll still find some unsung heroes on the menu alongside East meets West creations. We recommend two visits to fully experience this award-winning restaurant. Slide up to the raw bar to slurp up some B.C. oysters and nibble on nigiri one night, and return for your turn at the live crustacean tanks.
This elegant South Granville room is a popular place for locals and visitors alike to experience contemporary regional cuisine. With the mantra, “True to our region, true to our season,” you can expect the best of local ingredients from land and sea. The menu changes seasonally, but recent offerings have included Haida Gwaii sea urchin with squid ink tagliatelle and Dungeness crab cake with Sawmill Bay mussel — and those are just first courses. Lois Lake steelhead trout with Dungeness crab salad and Hecate Strait sablefish with Sawmill Bay clams are currently featured mains. Complete the experience by selecting a prestigious local bottle from the impressive Wall of Wine.
Head down to this English Bay dining room for the 100-Mile Tasting Menu, which is “inspired by our surroundings, sustainable aquaculture, ?local farmers and the countryside itself.” Seafood selections on the current tasting menu include hazelnut-crusted Bruce Swift coho and seared Baynes Sound scallop, which taste all the better with wine pairings from B.C. vineyards. Raincity’s unique Market Mondays also offer a great opportunity to sample local catches and meet other supporters of sustainable seafood while you dine at communal tables.
Just the excuse you were looking for to visit Coast in its new luxe digs on Alberni — an excellent selection of guilt-free seafood. More than a dozen dishes get the Ocean Wise stamp of approval and most of the fish is line-caught, which is more sustainable than trawling and netting. We recommend the wild salmon caught off the mouth of the Skeena River aboard Sea Trek and the rod- and reel-caught B.C. cod. While there are many eco-friendly choices, it should be noted that not all of the seafood is Ocean Wise.
Image courtesy of bmann.