Lunch

FOOD | Blue Plate Bonanza at Joe Fortes by Jenn Chan

Joe Fortes

 

A century ago you might walk into a diner or cafe for lunch and order a Blue Plate Special.  You would get a reasonably priced meal of meat and some vegetables (no substitutions!) that might have been served on a plate with a blue willow pattern.  The Blue Plate Special became a popular generic term for any inexpensive full meal, usually different each day.

 

Also about a century ago Joe Fortes was Vancouver’s first official lifeguard.  Originally from Trinidad and Tobago the well loved English Bay lifeguard was named Citizen of the Century in 1986.  There is a Joe Fortes Memorial Drinking Fountain in Alexandra Park, a Joe Fortes Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, and a restaurant that bears his name: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House.

 

My brief research doesn’t indicate whether Joe Fortes ever ate a blue plate special but you, dear reader, have the opportunity to partake of the Blue Plate Bonanza at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House.  For a limited time five plates are offered every weekday for the very reasonable price of $11.95 per plate.  It’s a beautiful restaurant, plenty of daylight from the skylight and large windows, immense art pieces on the walls that might make you think you are in Impressionist era France, and a popular large rooftop patio that is scheduled to open again April 9th for the warm weather months.

 

Joe Fortes
Joe Fortes
Joe Fortes Blue Plate Bonanza Menu
Blue Plate Bonanza Lunch

 

The Seafood Pot Pie is like a seafood chowder topped with a large puff pastry.  Hearty but not heavy, its individual seafood and vegetable elements retain their flavour and texture nicely.  The golden pastry is tender and flaky enough to be cut easily, not so tender that it crumbles.  This might be a good time to mention that the seafood at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House is Ocean Wise.  This means that the seafood has been harvested responsibly and is recommended by the Vancouver Aquarium as an ocean friendly seafood choice.

 

Seafood Pot Pie

Seafood Pot Pie

Seafood Pot Pie

 

When trying foods with Thai in the name there’s a slight wariness about the possibility of excessive heat from spices.  I was very happy that the Thai BBQ Chicken was delightfully flavoured without spicy hotness.  The chicken was tender, moist.  The bbq sauce slightly sweet with a faint hint of charcoal from the grilling.  I also liked the rice quite a bit, it too had a slight sweetness.

 

Thai BBQ Chicken

Thai BBQ Chicken

 

The Panko Crusted Haddock takes the original description of a blue plate special (meat with potato and vegetables) and elevates it to a much higher form of special.  Fresh green beans and carrot, potato and some amazingly good haddock.  The crisp panko crust, fresh flaky haddock, and a chunky tomato topping... this dish is worth a return trip.

 

Panko Crusted Haddock

Panko Crusted Haddock

Panko Crusted Haddock

 

Crispy Fried Chicken.  Three words that I love to see on a menu.  When this dish arrived I was surprised at the generous size of the chicken.  I detected a bit of heat in the chicken coating, perhaps black pepper, that Jenn did not notice.  The chicken itself was tender and yummy.  Also on the plate were coleslaw and beans.  I thought the beans had a sweet molasses flavour that was very good.

 

 Crispy Fried Chicken

 Crispy Fried Chicken

 

The West Coast Fish Cakes are made with salmon, cod, trout, haddock, and potato.  The accompanying tartar sauce with a lovely dill component was an excellent companion.  A marvelous combination.  Green beans and carrot round out the dish.  The fish cakes were great and had an excellent meaty fish to potato balance.

 

Westcoast Fish Cakes

Westcoast Fish Cakes

 

The basic Blue Plate menu item is $11.95.  There is an option to add an appetizer or a dessert item.  If you get two courses add $7, if you add both appetizer and dessert add $10.  Speaking of dessert we tried both offerings, Vanilla Crème Brulee and Vanilla Gelato.  The custard of the crème brulee was lightly flavoured, the caramel layer on top had a nice contrasting slightly burnt flavour.  The gelato was bursting with vanilla, not the bland vanilla of supermarket ice cream but the wonderful delicious vanilla of childhood dreams.  This was two scoops of heaven.

 

Vanille Gelato

Vanille Gelato

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

 

For the duration of the Blue Plate Bonanza each of the five lunch items is available any day of the week but not weekends.  Once the Bonanza is over the items are still available on the lunch menu but only one dish per day, Monday through Friday.  Don’t fret if you can’t make it to the restaurant between March 12th to 23rd, but you are going to have a difficult time deciding which day of the week you want to visit as each of the offerings is excellent.  Executive chef Wayne Sych deserves praise for the quality menu.  If pressed to pick a favourite I might choose the Panko Crusted Haddock.  Or the West Coast Fish Cakes.  Or....

 

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House has some new cocktails on the drink menu.  These are available any time, not just during the Blue Plate Bonanza.  From the Fresh & Cool selections Jenn picked the Umeshu Cooler and I the Pompelmocello Collins.  Umeshu is an appealing Japanese liqueur made from ume fruit.  The cooler also has Punt e Mes, fresh lemon and ginger.  Jenn liked this quite a bit.  Served in a rock glass with an enormous ice cube it will likely be a very popular drink when patio season arrives.  My choice,  the Pompelmocello Collins, was like summer in a tall glass.  Sparkly and grapefruity, easy to drink and easy to love.  Also from the Fresh & Cool selections was a drink called Medicinal Purposes.  Made with Grey Goose Poire, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime and Fentiman’s tonic this concoction is just what the doctor ordered.  It doesn’t taste like medicine but this light refreshing drink will have you feeling better should you be ailing in any way.  Or just thirsty.  Another category of drinks is Herbs & Spice.  True North is a fruity tasting drink that has Okanagan Spirits Aquavitus in it.  I’ve had shots of Aquavit before at Christmas dinners and it has a strong distinct flavour.  The combination of honey syrup, fresh lemon, lime and orange juice in the True North does much to soften and enhance the Aquavit.  One more drink selection from Herbs & Spice is Delightful Warning.  Aptly named as it has 2.25 oz. of alcohol, this rum based drink has a slight after taste of black licorice for some reason.  I enjoyed it, perhaps a bit too much.  The beer menu has also been refreshed and there are several solid tempting choices from local craft breweries.

 

New Cocktail Menu

New Cocktail Menu

Umeshu Cooler & Pompelmocello Collins

Umeshu Cooler & Pompelmocello Collins

Umeshu Cooler

Umeshu Cooler

New Cocktails | Medicinal Purposes, True North, Delightful Warning

New Cocktails | Medicinal Purposes, True North, Delightful Warning

 

Each of the staff members we talked to were warm, friendly, and more than competent.  Thank you to our server Heather, bartender Mark, and Assistant General Manager Jason for a great dining experience.

 

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House is located at 777 Thurlow, Vancouver.  Reservations are recommended.  The Blue Plate Bonanza ends March 23, each dish will still be available after that but only on a specific day of the week.

 

 
 

Top Patios in Vancouver Series: Reflections - The Garden Terrace by Jenn Chan

Reflections - The Garden Terrace

 

Hotel Georgia, an iconic Vancouver landmark, opened in 1927. It played host to some of the world's biggest celebrities in its heyday: Elvis, Princess Diana, the Beattles, John Wayne and even Queen Elizabeth. Nowadays, because of the immediacy of information and the potential for fans swarming the grounds, the guest list is kept more confidential, but it is not uncommon to see celebrities and billionaires convening at Hawksworth, their world renowned, ground-level restaurant, or Reflections, their New York inspired rooftop garden bar.

 

 

Reflections - The Garden Terrace
Reflections - The Garden Terrace

 

We were fortunate enough to be met at Reflections by their new Director of Sales and Marketing, Brad Simmons. To say Brad is a nice guy is like saying summer is hot and water is wet. An incredibly amiable, charming, transplanted Londoner recently moved to Vancouver to bring the Rosewood Hotel Georgia to the forefront of Vancouver's hotel scene. And why shouldn't it be? 


In 2011 they re-opened after an extensive renovation that saw them consolidate their 300+ rooms into 156 luxury rooms and suites. The finishes are top notch and vacancy is scarce which means the high-end rooms are well sought after. The market has spoken and with Mr. Simmons on board to nudge it along expect to start hearing more about Hotel Georgia in the coming years. Did you know you can host your conferences there? Your charity fundraisers? A birthday party?
 

Reflections is an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle. It's lush foliage and babbling waterfall lend itself to a very serene experience. In the past year their kitchen and bar area has doubled, tens of thousands have been spent on a variety of beautiful trees and plants and their menu was firmed up into more concise, tapa-inspired selections.

 

Reflections - The Garden Terrace

 

Our experience started, as all sunny, rooftop patio experiences ought, with a couple of cocktails. We tried the Hotel Georgia which can be bought around the world under the name... The Hotel Georgia. Crafted in-house in 1945 it is a delightful mixture of gin, lemon juice, orgeat and egg white. An international award winner for a reason! We also ordered the Green Thumb Margarita which, though it hasn't won any cocktails awards yet, is destined to be on the menu for years to come!



 

Hotel Georgia with some Veggie Chips

Hotel Georgia with some Veggie Chips

Hotel Georgia + Green Thumb Margarita

Hotel Georgia + Green Thumb Margarita

 

As a lifestyle blogger sometimes you have to order a dish you wouldn't otherwise because you need a variety to photograph or maybe it's something the establishment would like to feature, but protocol went out the window when all 3 members of our party opted for the Albacore Tuna Poke for our appetizer. The tuna was of a quality that sets it apart from your chain restaurant or mom and pop spots. It was seasoned to perfection and simply melts in your mouth! Go now!


 

Albacore Tuna Poke

Albacore Tuna Poke

Albacore Tuna Poke

 

We managed to agree on 3 different entrées and went with: Lobster & Prawn Brioche, Rye Kernel Salad with Huli Huli Chicken Breast and a lovely Grilled Flat Iron Steak. The brioche was very fluffy and it was clear the lobster had been de-shelled only minutes earlier, this isn't your canned lobster that can be found on some similar sandwiches! The salad looked very fresh and, though I didn't want to impose upon our host to try it, I was told it was exquisite and the uniquely spiced chicken is worth a visit all on its own; Huli Huli y'all! The steak came out a perfect medium rare, first box ticked, was a healthy AAA grade of beef, so far so good, and was masterfully seasoned. I give it a solid A rating and I have yet to give a perfect A+ score on steak because there are simply too many variables.

 

 

Lobster & Prawn Brioche

Lobster & Prawn Brioche

Rye Kernel Salad with Huli Huli Chicken Breast

Rye Kernel Salad with Huli Huli Chicken Breast

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

 

Though I hesitate to mention it the majestic blue roof of Hotel Vancouver constantly drew my gaze. It is a view that I happily also enjoy from my own balcony and one that gives me a deep sense of calm and a feeling that I'm home. The lush garden setting, punctuated by some 20 foot Japanese Maple trees craned into place only months before, the unique architecture of the adjoining tower, the Residences at Hotel Georgia, and the stunning Hotel Vancouver coupled with the soothing sounds of the waterfall make the ambience second to none in the city. A perfect place to relax for lunch with colleagues, stop in for a drink after work or grab an elegant dinner. You will start to hear more and more about Reflections going forward; trust me.



 

Reflections - The Garden Terrace
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan