Vancouver, British Columbia / August 31, 2010 / dinner
Winederlust Rating (details below): 8.1 out of 10 / Winederlust Worthy: Yes
To celebrate Jay’s birthday in Vancouver, on what was apparently one of the rainiest days on record (poor Jay), we decided to drown our sorrows with some seafood at the Blue Water Café, widely acknowledged as the best seafood restaurant in the city. It’s located in Vancouver’s Yaletown area, a sort of urban shopping mall with restaurants and boutiques lined up in industrial-looking rows.
Inside the restaurant, the atmosphere wasn’t quite what we expected from a place specializing in fish; instead, it had an Italian vibe with brick walls and warm lighting.
Then we began our meal with the BC Tasting for Two, a sampling of local seafood. Our favorite appetizer was the Smoked Sockeye Salmon Terrine served with golden caviar marinated in sake, green onion crème fraiche, toasted filberts, and fresh herb salad. The terrine was rich and tasty with layers of silky, melt-in-your-mouth salmon.
The second appetizer in the tasting was the Qualicum Bay Scallop Ceviche, served with grapefruit, red pepper, red onion, and cilantro. This dish was tasty, but we both agreed that too much onion buried the delicate flavor of the scallops.
The third appetizer was the Ahi Tuna Tataki, with sesame seeds and scallions with a ginger-soy reduction served in a wonton crisp. While good, this dish wasn’t anything special.
The final dish in the tasting was a Dungeness Crab Salad with asparagus panna cotta, celery, peanuts, raisins, and green apple froth. Though this dish had a nice, tangy flavor, unfortunately the accompaniments ended up overpowering the taste of the delicious local crab.
After the appetizers, we moved on to the Shellfish Plateau, which included fat, juicy prawns; mussels, sweet but a little on the small side; fresh-tasting clams; jellyfish with seaweed, crunchy and oddly delicious; and the same scallop ceviche we’d started with. Fresh seafood is never bad, and this was no exception; but we also had hoped to be blown away, and we weren’t.
Blue Water Café also has an extensive selection of oysters, primarily from British Columbia, but also a smattering from Washington and the East Coast. Since we’re suckers for oysters – especially West Coast oysters, which tend to be creamier than their briny East Coast counterparts, we supplemented our shellfish with a dozen local oysters: creamy Kusshi from Cortes Island; smooth Royal Miyagi, also from Cortes Island; Chef’s Creek from Vancouver Island, our favorite of the bunch for their fresh creaminess; mild and slightly sweet Little Wing from the Okeover Inlet; and Gorge Inlet from Vancouver Island.
Finally, we moved on to the sushi: yellowtail; sockeye salmon (more mild when raw than regular salmon); shiromaguro (albacore tuna), for some reason only ever found on menus on the West Coast; uni (sea urchin) from Vancouver Island, which wasn’t as creamy or tasty as other varieties we’ve had from Maine and Santa Barbara – in fact, it had a rather unpleasant taste of horse manure (or, at least what you’d think it would taste like based on the smell!); and a Sockeye Salmon roll, with local wild sockeye, cucumber, and avocado. Unfortunately, the roll was marred by the addition of unnecessary mayo!
We finished with the Ricotta Cheesecake with hazelnut genoise, mocha cream, and lemon compote, paired with a yummy apricot-flavored 2007 Pentage Slow Vineyards Late Harvest Blend.
Overall, we had higher expectations for Blue Water. Some of the dishes were overly complicated, masking the more subtle flavors of seafood and fish. But for a special occasion dinner in Vancouver with lots of seafood-based dishes from which to choose, Blue Water does provide an enjoyable night out.
– by Liz Humphreys, Winederlust Eater in Chief
Winederlust Rating Details (out of 10):
Food: 8.0 (preparation, presentation & taste)
Wine: 8.5 (selection, recommendations, pairings & taste)
Service: 8.5 (helpfulness, attentiveness, knowledge & pacing)
Place: 7.5 (location, view, decor & vibe)
Price Range: $$$ (Expensive)
Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar / 1095 Hamilton St., Vancouver, British Columbia [map]
Direct Line: (604) 688-8078
Open daily 5pm-11pm, late menu till midnight. Reservations essential, ideally a week or two in advance.