False Creek’s C Restaurant celebrates sustainable new caviar and salmon menus—and a gorgeous new patio to enjoy them from
I was recently a guest at a lavish event at C Restaurant celebrating the return of caviar to the menu after a 10-year hiatus. Prior to that evening, I knew so little about caviar that I thought beluga caviar came from whales.
Not only was I schooled about the black stuff after attending the extravagant five-course dinner—mother of pearl spoons are a must—I learned how this coveted (and Canadian) delicacy made its way onto C’s menu.
Restaurant C’s new five-course caviar dinner is now available for $235, plus $75 and up for champagne, wine and vodka pairings. Shown above: Northern Divine caviar with potato blinis and traditional garnishes served in oyster shells, served as part of the aforementioned dinner or separately for $150. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
I was intrigued to find out how caviar, once almost solely available wild from the Caspian Sea through Russian and Iranian distributors before over-fishing exhausted supplies, would fit into C’s local and sustainable philosophy—they partnered with the Vancouver Aquarium to found the Ocean Wise program, a symbol now seen on menus across the country.
1600 Howe Street, Vancouver
Owner Harry Kambolis (winner of this year’s Green Restaurant Award), executive chef Robert Clark (a tireless advocate of sustainable food) and new chef de cuisine Lee Humphries (a strong proponent of local and organic cuisine) are excited to be the only restaurant featuring Northern Divine caviar on their menu.
I was lucky to sit near Northern Divine’s general manager Justin Henry and president Bernie Bennett, and got the scoop on Canada’s only white sturgeon fish farm.
C Restaurant helps change perceptions about fish farming
To me, "farmed fish" didn't have positive connotations, and judging from the response I got when I polled my friends about their perceptions—it ranged from "bad" to "very bad"—it seemed as though I wasn’t the only one hesitant about the idea of fish farms. But perhaps that is because we're not educated about the topic.
Located in Sechelt, BC, Northern Divine produces caviar from their land-based fish farm, a practice supported by the David Suzuki Foundation, and their caviar-producing sturgeon have been labeled as sustainable by Ocean Wise.
Although there currently isn't a certification for organic seafood in Canada, Northern Divine operates "according to the draft Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standards," which could be approved by the end of this year.
The evening especially called for a little bubbly, as Henry and Bennett were celebrating the very first batch of their caviar, brought from Sechelt only three hours prior to the meal, which took 11 years to mature after starting their sturgeon farm in 2000.
A selection from chef de cuisine Lee Humphries’ new tapas menu (left to right: squid with pea, mint, parmesan, lemon and olive oil, $6; tea-cured Hawkshaw salmon with pickled shallots and tomato jam, $6; a lamb chop with saffron cous cous and raisin jus, $6; and sommelier Kim Cyr’s “Pretty in Pink” rose list. (Image: Hamid Attie)
Hawkshaw salmon: the eco-friendly fish
Meanwhile, out on the pristine waters of the Skeena and Nass rivers in northern BC, Fred and Linda Hawkshaw are catching salmon using their selective gillnet fishing method that a report published by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) shows successfully catches the target species—pink, sockeye, spring and chum—with near-zero mortality, and releases the non-targeted species—coho and steelhead trout among them—unharmed.
I was able to try some of the Hawkshaw salmon, “A combination of spring and sockeye from the last two catches,” says chef Clark at the Wild About Wild event, C’s canape reception celebrating wild salmon and the launch of the new five-course salmon menu ($65) dubbed the 'Hawkshaw Salmon Fishing Trip.'
Hawkshaw salmon, I learned, are so delicious because of the way they’re caught. The salmon are removed from the net by hand and kept alive in a holding tank onboard until the boat reaches the shore, where they are then killed, gutted and immediately shipped to their final destination.
Chef Clark started working with the Hawkshaws over 10 years ago and is one of the few people able to purchase their environmentally sound, high quality catches for his customers.
Also out to get a taste of this much-coveted salmon and support Restaurant C’s eco-friendly efforts were VIPs from SeaChoice, Ocean Wise, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Seafood Development Department of the B.C. Minister of Agriculture.
C Restaurant’s newly-renovated patio bar and cocktail lounge features comfy sofas, elevated bar tables and a summer must-have outdoor BBQ. (Image: Hamid Attie)
Whether you want to relax at the patio bar for a casual drink and nibblies—the mini salmon burgers are ridiculously good—or sit in the more formal dining section of the patio for one of the chef’s tasting menus, you can luxuriate in the gorgeous views of False Creek and rest assured that you’re enjoying environmentally-responsible seafood from global leaders in the sustainability movement.