Hey now, it (was) my birthday – gonna dine out like it’s (was) my birthday! So, while I’m still a sucker for ice cream cake (or, better yet gelato cake – thanks Chris!), birthdays are no longer filled with pizza or hot dogs, or even row after row of cocktails. Nope, as a grown up of thirt… none of your business… I think finer dining is much more appropriate!
My parents were still in town at the time, and Granville Market is always a great place to bring tourists. They treated us to this really nice meal at Sandbar (which is why I don’t have pricing for everything this time).
We had just made reservations that same day, and were lucky to get a 6:30 seating. When we got there, the place was already very busy. We were helped by not one, two, or three hostesses, but *4* all standing by the stairs at the dining room level (not sure why there were so many!!!).
The view in the restaurant is great – not only do you get a spectacular view of False Creek, there’s also lots of huge wooden beams, great nautical decor, and you get to see the busy open kitchen.
We perused the menus while the very friendly waiter told us about some of the day’s specials. We were really impressed by how effortlessly he managed our table, a big group of girls at the table next to us, and then several other deuces nearby. He was pretty cute too 🙂
The first thing we ordered was something we had to get pretty quick – for the “happy hour” between 4 – 7 PM everyday, they offer mussels and fries plus a pint of beer for $10! That’s a pretty amazing special anywhere, all the more impressive at a place like Sandbar.
We ordered two of these (which served as both our appetizers and as the drink order for my dad & Chris): the tomato provencal (which was a light tomato & fennel broth with shallots and just a few pieces of smokey sausage mixed in), the other with a Thai curry (a mild red curry with coconut cream and lemongrass). The tomato provencal one was by far better, the flavours complemented the briny mussels better, whereas it seemed like the Thai one brought out more of the “fishy” seafood flavour. there was also fresh crusty bread with cute butter pats (imprinted with the word “butter”) that helped us sop up the tomato broth.
Chris and my mom both ordered the Cedar Plank Salmon which came in a sweet soy glaze, with a few veggies and rice. A signature item on their menu, the salmon was perfectly cooked, with quite a nice aroma thanks to the cedar. The soy glaze/sauce was super delicious, not too sweet, and definitely not overpowering.
I ordered a daily special, which was the Miso Coated Sablefish. This nice, thick cut of fish was incredibly tender, despite having been grilled quite aggressively. I liked the preparation a lot, especially the oven roasted tomato which added a nice acidic contrast to the smokey flavour of the fish. Same side veggies and rice – and I’ll comment on these here – I found the veggies okay, though a bit oily maybe. The rice was pretty bad – it clearly had been saffron-ed/tumeric-ed up to a point where there wasn’t really any rice flavour and the ubber fluffy texture felt strange to me. I didn’t like the rice at all. I’d have preferred if they offered options too, maybe some garlic mashed potato? Yum!
My dad also had a special, it was a grilled salmon (can’t recall the exact name) but it was prepared with onion confit (which was nicely prepared, very subtle), a basil/pesto like sauce, and two giant slices of the best, most fluffy potatoes I’ve had. Honestly, these potatoes were to die for! The salmon here was firmer than the cedar plan preparation, probably due to being cooked over direct heat.
Everyone enjoyed their dinners very much. We didn’t feel rushed at all, and as mentioned before, enjoyed the waiter’s charming banter throughout the meal. We were well taken care of by the other staff there (many people being responsible for clearing plates, setting new cutlery, and refilling water). I was pleasantly surprised that Sandbar was as comfortable as it felt – and with the $10 Mussel special, you can bet we’ll be back to enjoy a sunny afternoon on their rooftop patio before summer is over.