Blue Water Café
1095 Hamilton Street
Date of visit: September 6, 2013
Blue Water Café is located in the trendy Yaletown section of downtown Vancouver. We’d heard great things about it, so we decided to make this restaurant our big spend splurge for our weeklong vacation in the Pacific Northwest.
First, the Pacific Northwest is known as one of the world’s best locations for “foodies” and this was apparent in virtually every restaurant and food truck we sampled in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. So the bar was already set high when we arrived at the Blue Water on the last evening of our vacation.
When in the Pacific Northwest, the two food groups that are required eating are Asian and seafood. Since Blue Water specialized in fish and seafood we focused our choices there. I started off with a variety of oysters from the raw bar. Although most offerings were west coast oysters (as one would expect), I decided to try a variety for comparison and included Caraquet and Village Bay along with my west coast selections (Kusshi, Reed Island to name a couple). While I enjoyed the heft and creamy texture of the west coast varietals, I have to admit my favorites were the east coast oysters. Perhaps the smaller size created a more intense and briny flavor, or perhaps I was just more accustomed to their flavor, being a northeasterner myself. I ordered extras of the east coast and enjoyed them thoroughly.
For my main course, I was intrigued by the special halibut on offer and was very pleased with my selection. Fresh, moist and flaky with just the right seasonings to complement the fish. My partner ordered the sturgeon, never having had it before and he was very happy with the more meaty texture. Although our waiter described it as being similar to swordfish, it was more delicate and had a lovely balance. Uniquely, it was prepared with a pumpernickel crust, which my partner said was just plain delicious.
Now for the drinks…
My intention was to focus on the local wines but once I saw the cocktail menu I couldn’t resist. I tried a couple of cocktails and the one I absolutely loved was the Skyfall, a mixture of Bombay sapphire, Pineau des Charentes and Orgeat in an absinthe rinsed flute topped with Bollinger Brut. The bubbly Brut and Pineau were the most prevalent flavors, making it not too far off from my original plan to focus on wine, but the additional citrus tones from the Orgeat and hints of licorice from the absinthe created a flavor combination that accompanied my oysters and fish poetically. My partner had the Hemingway Daiquiri which is a mixture of rum with grapefruit and lime. For anyone used to frozen fruity daiquiris from resorts and cruises, this is nothing like that (otherwise I doubt Hemingway would have enjoyed it!). Far less sweet and more rummy, this cocktail was memorable (even in spite of its effect!).
For dessert, I went with the Warm Dark Cuban Chocolate Cake with a brandy truffle center and vanilla bean ice cream. My partner had the Coconut Cream Tart with coconut ice cream. While both desserts were satisfying, they were not particularly unique. What WAS unique was the ice wine we had along with our desserts. For those of you not familiar with ice wine (as we were not), it’s a dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine. Ice wine is a Canadian specialty (with Germany being the only other large producer). Production of ice wine is limited due to the labor and short timing involved so it’s pricey. But what a treat! Yes, it’s sweet but it’s a concentrated grape flavor without being candy-like. I highly recommend trying ice wine when in Canada.
Our waiter was friendly and very knowledgeable and had excellent timing, just what should be expected in a fine restaurant.
Overall: When in Vancouver, save up your money and go to Blue Water Café! We plan to return at our next trip.