Alberni Street, between Burrard and Bute, used to be known as Lil Ginza owing to the upscale, and one time predominantly Japanese, shops and restaurants. Tourists from Europe and Asia still flock to Gucci, Prada, Hermes, Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton and Versace for low priced designer goods (relative to prices in Tokyo anyway).
Though no longer Japan-centric it is still a bastion for upscale shops, such as the handful I mentioned, and incredible, world class restaurants. Glowbal Group leads the charge in that department. They own and operate 3 restaurants on Alberni a stone's throw from each other: Coast, Black & Blue and the Italian Kitchen. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful dinner at Coast one sunny June eve.
$4,800,000. That is what it cost to open Coast. $4.8 million dollars. Cash. Money. Where did all that money go? Take a visit, you'll know within 2 feet of the door; the space is modern, opulent and tasteful! We were seated on the patio, which coincidentally is about 100 feet from the front door to our condo, and greeted by Mr. Michael Moore, a part owner of the Glowbal Group and our official host for the evening. He was gracious enough to stop for a chat and give us the scoop on Coast. He could not have been more accommodating and pleasant and I have since plugged him into all my social media and consider him a friend. He stopped in on us several more times, in between brisk jogs between Coast and Black & Blue presumably to put out fires, metaphorically of course, and his warmth was genuine and his passion for his guests palpable. There's no better feeling as a customer than to feel respected and valued by a business' management. Or is there?
Shortly after Mr. Moore left to perform some managerial duties he assured us we would be well taken care of by our waiter. He did not, however, mention that Executive Chef Mark Greenfield, a culinary ninja, would be at our table a few minutes later to let us know we needn't labour over our menus and that the feast he had planned for us wasn't on it anyway... A better feeling than an attentive management team? Yup!
Our first courses, well after a couple of Coast Decked Caesars which are near perfect 9/10's on the Caesar meter, were a sublime Spot Prawn and Ahi Tuna Ceviche and equally tasty Grilled Spot Prawn and King Crab. Ahhh the Spot Prawn. If you follow our food blog here on JennChanPhotography.com you know we have been indulging in the odd Spot Prawn, but I was not prepared, no even close to prepared, for the combination of Spot Prawns and Ahi Tuna.
Spots Prawns are incredible, Ahi Tuna is marvellous and cooking things with fruit is nothing short of magical. Can someone even give me an explanation about how cooking in the ceviche style works without mentioning magic? I humbly doubt it. This was hands down the best ceviche I had ever had. The ingredients were so fresh I thought I saw a leg move at one point. And it did. It moved in a blur towards the lovely Jenn Chan's mouth. There was no stopping it. Does anyone not like crab? Do you know anyone? I can't think of a single person in my life who doesn't and I just spent 4-5 minutes pondering in hopes of ridiculing them in this forum, but to no avail. And when you're the king of anything that probably means you're really good, right? Or at least that your family stole power somehow generations ago, but that's probably a column for a different publication. King Crab is aptly named. It was delicious and served with a delicious dish of melted butter. You can tell that he met his end mere minutes prior to being presented to us; fresh, fluffy and flavourful! The grilled Spot Prawns were equally as fresh and they compliment each other brilliantly. The ceviche was paired, at our server's recommendation, with a lovely Riesling from Quail's Gate Winery in the gorgeous Okanagan Valley of BC and the King Crab a lovely Chardonnay from the Kendal Jackson Winery in California. We could have left then and still given Coast a glowing review, but we were only getting warmed up!
Chef Mark popped out to see how we enjoyed our first course and was genuinely appreciative of the adulation we bestowed on him. He is a savvy chef, but also a humble and remarkably nice man. His new wife, herself a manager at Coast, couldn't help but overhear our praise and beamed with pride at her husband. It was a magical moment and speaks to the team Coast has built and its laid back, family-like working environment.
Our main course was a Spot Prawn sashimi platter with beautiful Ahi Tuna, Salmon and Sablefish. It isn't hard to see why Coast regularity wins "Beat Seafood in Vancouver" or some other such award from some publication or another EVERY year. Seriously. Google it. It was paired masterfully with a Sauvignon Blanc from Duckhorn Vineyards in the Napa Valley of California. This wine immediately shot to the top of my list of favourite Sauvignon Blancs, it is a must-drink! After our sashimi had been consumed the waiter whisked away with the Spot Prawn heads and returned with them deep fried in a nice, light tempura batter. I generally disregard the head, but it was so incredibly crispy and delicious we devoured the whole thing!
We were given no inkling what our dessert was to be so we sipped a lovely Port from the Burrowing Owl Winery in eager anticipation. It arrived with a flair and soon dessert was also a show! A lovely platter with Coast's famous Melting Chocolate Sphere and the equally decadent Coconut Banana Butter Cake. As they pour the molten caramel over the chocolate sphere science happens and it begins to melt and the flavours mingle and cascade down onto the lush vanilla ice cream inside. Close your eyes and visualise that for a moment. All I ask is that you please finish reading this before you go because I know you're going. I know it. Not generally a fan of coconut, but knowing Chef Mark doesn't make bad food I dove into the butter cake. Simply amazing!
As our dishes were cleared we both agreed this was one of the best meals we had, had in 2016 and wracked our brains and could not come up with too many that rivalled it in our lives. Coast, while not the flagship Glowbal restaurant, is still a jewel, a bright, shiny jewel, in its crown. Go for the seafood, go for the service, go for the wine, but just go! You'll thank me!