Bridges

by Ed Lau on June 9, 2010

I’ve said before that Granville Island is one of my favorite places in this city. It seems like things happen slower there and everything is a little more interesting in the area. There’s artisan quality groceries like home-cured meats and freshly baked breads…and one of the best local Vancouver beers is brewed here.

There are also several gems of restaurants located on Granville Island so I was excited to try Bridges…better known as “The Big Yellow Building”…when we arranged to celebrate a friend’s birthday there. As it is Granville Island, be warned about the parking situation, especially on the weekend. The road layout can be confusing. Quite often your best shot at getting a spot is near the market, which is right next to Bridges. It’s not as bad as you think if you know where to look.

Bridges is really two restaurants. The lower floor is a bistro and bar with several large televisions showing sports events while the upper floor is more of a fine dining environment. The prices vary a lot as the bistro menu is in the $15-25 range while the upstairs restaurant is upward of $30 for entrees. Menus also vary according to season.

The restaurant is bright and clean with large windows displaying Vancouver’s gorgeous downtown skyline across the river. On a sunny day, the Bridges dining room is probably stunning as it was already quite nice despite the cloudy weather.

Drinks are a standard list of local and import beers, wines and cocktails. Since it was Granville Island, I had a Granville Island lager. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the pale ale that I like, which I thought was ridiculous since it was brewed a mere few hundred feet from where I was sitting.

The girls had their Sex in the City moment with their brightly colored Cosmopolitans.

I should note that the bread is a great quality focaccia that was warm, soft on the inside and crispy on the edges with a great olive oil and herb flavor. Quite often the bread is an afterthought so when you get good bread at a restaurant, it’s actually somewhat surprising. Skip the butter. You won’t need it.

I had actually already eaten an hour ago as it was my dad’s birthday as well and I had dinner with him before coming to Bridges. Instead of an appetizer and an entree, I opted for two appetizers instead.

First was a half-dozen fresh raw oysters ($16) served with lemon wedges and vinaigrette. I can’t quite remember what was in the vinaigrette but it was fruity, sour and sweet. The shallots really come through in the flavor. The oysters were fresh and delicious. However, I really missed a spice component here. A little heat with some horseradish or something would’ve made them even better. $16 isn’t a particularly good deal, though. If you’re as big of a fan of raw oysters as I am, head to Rodney’s instead.

Second was a dungeness crab cake ($16) with achiote aioli and spicy tomato chutney. I didn’t think there would be by looking at the outside of this but there is a lot of crab meat in these things and not much filler. The aioli and the chutney go well with the flavor of the crab although perhaps a tad on the sour side. Still, a good starter to kick-start your taste buds.

I also tried a bit of a friend’s entree, the Westcoast Paella with prawns, clams, chorizo, mussels, calamari ($35). The rice is full of great saffron flavor and cooked perfectly. A little bit of chew but softer than al dente. I can’t stand it when people think paella means you have to cook your rice to mush. The seafood also tastes fresh with the calamari especially soft and well done.

Some of the other dishes around the table were this Asian-inspired sesame crusted B.C. wild salmon on top of some bok choy.

This is a sablefish dish that I can’t quite remember (and the Bridges menu on the website isn’t accurate and up-to-date).

Service was fantastic as our waitress was friendly and cheerful and several of the other wait staff were more than happy to help out and fill our glasses if she wasn’t immediately around. There was actually a surprising number of people working in comparison to the number of tables in the restaurant.

Overall, the food was good, although I wasn’t blown away with anything in particular but perhaps a bit on the pricey side. $30-40 for a entree isn’t outrageous but I didn’t feel like the dishes reflected their price point. However, the view and the service were on par with what I’d expect at that range. I’ll have to check out the bistro floor some other time, which was voted the #1 Sunny Day Hang-out spot in Vancouver by the Georgia Straight. Sitting on the patio with a cold beer, hanging out with friends with a view of all Vancouver…that sounds like a pretty good day.

Bridges on Urbanspoon

in Food and Fine Dining

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin June 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Actualllllly..all of GIB beers which are available year round are brewed in the Interior as they don’t have the capacity in the brewery right on Granville Island. The recipes were founded and tested right at that brewery though!

What they do brew there is the seasonal ones, like Winter Ale (which might I add, is mighty delicious).

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Laptop Briefcases June 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I have been to Bridges several times and I would have to say I prefer the downstairs bistro. I agree that upstairs the prices are a little too high. Although the food is still pretty good, you’re paying a little extra for the location & view. If you check out the bistro, see if they still have the seafood platter for two. They might’ve changed it or removed it since, but it was a very good deal for how much seafood you get.

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