Brass Fish Tavern & Kitchen opens in Vancouver’s Art Deco Marine Building

Top Chef Canada competitor Clement Chan leads the kitchen at the latest from the Donnelly Group

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      Once home to Elephant & Castle, the gorgeous corner space in the iconic 1930 Marine Building is now home to the Donnelly Group’s new Brass Fish Tavern & Kitchen (355 Burrard Street).

      The name is a nod to the creatures that adorn the Art Deco building’s entrance.

      There really are brass fish on the Art Deco Marine Building.
      Gail Johnson.

      With marine and naval themes influencing the eclectic design, there are 80-year-old signal flags, ships’ banners, and a leather-top bar akin to what you’d find in an officers’ mess. The main floor tavern has banquettes the colour of Pacific giant kelp and circular high-tops custom-designed with trees coming up through the centres. There are multiple screens playing sports; that means a view of one or several TVs from every seat. The mezzanine parlour feels more lounge-y, darker, cozy, and home library-like with low-slung sofas and seats. Then there’s the standalone izakaya, off to the right when you first walk in, a full, real skeleton of a 21-foot juvenile blue whale suspended from above. 

      Brass Fish Tavern & Kitchen's main-floor tavern serves a modern bar menu.
      Gail Johnson.

      Clement Chan is in the house as executive chef. He’s a bright light in the city’s culinary scene. Formerly of Blue Water Café, Chambar (among other spots), and, most recently, Torafuku, the restaurant he cofounded, Chan has been a member of Culinary Team Canada and competed on Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada. He’s known for playful, textural dishes with bold and inventive pan-Asian flavour combinations.

      Brass Fish Tavern & Kitchen executive chef Clement Chan is known for playful, textural dishes with pan-Asian flavours.
      Andrew Milligan.

      Chef Kevin Wong, whose resume includes positions in INUA, a Two Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo and at Vancouver’s Le Crocodile, is behind the sushi bar. There, you’ll find nigiri, sashimi, classic and speciality rolls (like silken tofu aburi, pea shoots, torched miso, honey, and yuzu). Goma-ae, torched tofu, seaweed salad, crudo, and other snacks round of the izakaya offerings.

      The 21-foot skeleton of a juvenile whale is real.
      Gail Johnson.

      On the modern pub menu, standout items include the ahi tuna sandwich: the barely seared furikake-crusted steak is topped with a seven-spice onion ring, greens, and wasabi mayo. Pumpkin (roasted and pickled), burrata, and beets add heft to miso-dressed arugula sprinkled with quinoa and spiced pumpkin seeds. Balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts are generously coated with “chorizo streusel”, crispy bits that Chan makes by rendering fat from the spicy sausage.

      There's a standalone izakaya within Brassfish Tavern & Kitchen.
      Gail Johnson.

      The wine list is fully B.C., save for Champagne and some sparklers; the province is prominent on the beer list. For cocktails, Trevor Kallies focuses on inventive highballs with ingredients like shiso, turmeric, matcha, bee pollen, and salted mango.

      The ahi-tuna sandwich is loaded with a seven-spice onion ring, arugula, and wasabi mayo.
      Gail Johnson.
      Roasted and pickled squash shows up in the pumpkin-and-burrata salad.
      Gail Johnson.

      Brass Fish Tavern & Bar is open daily, with Happy Hour from 3 to 7 p.m.; see here for more info.