At Edible Canada, it's an oasis of tastiness
At sunset on a recent Sunday night, two couples were engrossed in an argument on the patio at Granville Island’s newest restaurant. It was a very Vancouver fight. Instead of barking or hollering like you’d hear in more dramatic cities, the younger couple—in their 30s, perhaps—was hissing loud whispers at the other couple, who were perhaps their parents. The parents hissed back.
Meanwhile, the sky turned pink, store owners at the market across from the patio put away their flowers and fruit, and happy people strolled to the nearby Arts Club for curtain time. The fading sunbeams caught the tall Naramata fruit–filled pitchers of sangria on several tables, illuminating them like fuchsia lanterns.
Suddenly the younger woman said in a loud voice, “Okay. Let’s just get past this.” Seemingly, they did. Within moments, the table was rosy with laughter.
How did this remarkable turnaround happen? I credit the food at Eric Pateman’s month-old venture, Edible Canada at the Market.
Pateman, 37, started his business in 2006 as an online local food “concierge”. It grew into a small retail space called Edible B.C. on the island, which added cooking classes, after-hours dinners in the aisles of the public market, and culinary-focused kayaking tours. The new 170-seat bistro and retail store replaces Edible B.C. and can be found in the old B.C. Wood Co-op building near the market.
“It’s in the middle of the hustle and bustle,” said Pateman in a phone interview with the Straight. “It’s about people watching.” Patrons sporting lululemon gear, suits, and strollers are all welcome.
That evening, while I certainly enjoyed an eyeful of family drama, it was the spread that captivated me. The signature seafood soup is a pile of very fresh shellfish, spot prawns, and sustainable cod swimming in a Thai curry-and-prawn broth. My companion and I shared a large order for $10, which was thoughtfully divided up for us into in two delicate tilting white bowls. While curried shellfish is nothing new for Vancouver, chef de cuisine Jennifer Dodd and sous chef Tom Lee draw out the flavour of the mussels rather than masking it.
We also shared a main of simple-yet-succulent grilled salmon with apple-fennel salad, a side order of heart-stoppingly tasty onion rings, a basket of artisanal bread, and sponge cake with lemon curd. With one beer and a latte, we both left absolutely full for just over $70 including tax and tip.
Pateman, a chef with an MBA, said the goal is to offer well-executed B.C. food “without fuss”, sourced as much as possible from the market. Dodd and Lee, he explained, have spent months honing the menu, which will change seasonally. The chefs find about 80 percent of the ingredients at the public market, and most originate in B.C. and Canada.
But he’s not obnoxious about his showy regional cuisine. As if to prove there’s still room for humour in the local food movement, the onion rings are massive cuff-sized creations, served with oregano buttermilk aioli.
“All potatoes go in the deep-fryer filled with duck fat,” he added, explaining that this was a favourite at Edible B.C. market dinners. The menu advises that the French fries and breakfast hash browns are cooked this way.
A warning about the hash browns. Once you’ve tried these—as I did—all other hash browns will forever pale in comparison. Bite in, and the crispness is audible. The potato inside is velvety and smells like earthy root. Forgive this gush: they made me feel like a potato virgin, tasting hash browns for the very first time.
The kiddies were along for breakfast, and normally, they behave appallingly on patios and won’t eat restaurant food. But Pateman claims the bistro is family-friendly, and indeed, it did work some kind of magic. The kids adored the Belgian waffles with lemon ricotta and served with a lush, chunky cherry sauce. Sloping Hill Farm’s maple sausage patties were a hit. They ate, and so did we, in relative peace. Though my trio of breakfast tacos with chorizo appeared at first to be a suspiciously small portion, we all left satisfied for about $50 including tax and tip, with one pot of French-pressed coffee—quite the deal for an exquisitely-cooked meal for four.
This is one of the rare Granville Island patios that doesn’t face the water. It’s enclosed from the street by waist-high wood planters filled with edible greens, near a busy, working stretch of the market where vendors load and unload goods. But dining there is far more peaceful than I expected. And while the False Creek waterway is undeniably gorgeous, I found it comforting not having to gaze upon other people’s ritzy yachts and million-dollar condos.
Given the number of people who visit Granville Island each year, and the success of his previous market dinners, Pateman knew the bistro would be a hit. It is—the patio is already frequently packed. Pateman will be introducing tasting trios (such as salmon three ways) in the next couple of weeks, which will only encourage more people to eat here. They should. Get in while you still can, before the lineups start.
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