The Chewies Oysters team made their presence known in Coal Harbour during a recent media bash that boasted a room full of guests who were eating and drinking like nobody’s business.
“Eat lots, get drunk,” was the motto of the evening, chosen by the boisterous Manager of Chewies, Charles Zuckermann. From Chewies’ “Muddy” Caesar with a cajun prawn, to Granville Island’s Lions Winter Ale, many drinks were shared amongst friends to welcome the restaurant’s new location to the neighbourhood. This lively atmosphere is what Chewies strives to achieve on a regular basis, luring in people through energetic music, constant chatter between employees and diners alike, and an open-concept kitchen to exude a feeling that everyone is part of the action.
Owner Richard Chew gave a short speech to show his appreciation for the great turnout and the warm welcome to the neighbourhood, expressing his delight in opening his second location. The first and original location is in Kitsilano.
Executive Chef Greg Edwards and his culinary team prepared small bites for the crowd that were smaller portions, or dissections, of their regular dishes. Tasting items include: Blackened Albacore Tuna with chili-lime vinaigrette, avocado and mango maque choux; Fried Green Tomatoes and Prawns; Fried Fanny Bay Oysters; Fried Gator and Hush Puppies; (delicious) Southern Fried Chicken on a Homemade Biscuit; and, of course, Raw Oysters.
There was even a shuck-off between employees to add a competitive element to the event. After all, everyone knows that (s)he who shucks fastest gets…errr…I got nothing. Shucking oysters can be a useful life skill though; you never know when an oyster dilemma may arise where you’ve got the goods but no ones seems to have the skills.
For many this was a first time trying alligator as you don’t often see it in Vancouver. I asked if it was difficult to get gator meat in Vancouver, to which they responded, “well, we haven’t ran out of it yet.” Cheeky, but succinct.
I initially tried alligator in New Orleans where they served it in many forms, with my favourite being in a sausage. Chewies’ version is breaded in buttermilk chicken batter, and, as such, it tastes essentially like chicken. It was juicy with an amazing batter, but without knowing you would never guess that it was alligator, particularly if you coat it with their jalapeño jam. I suppose that makes it approachable for even the timid taster though. This could also be said for the fried green tomatoes which generally have little to no taste, but when parmesan-panko crusted and served with prawns and a bacon shrimp remoulade (the apparent show-stealer) they can be a tasty treat.
In addition to the items that we tried, they also had their regular menu items on display for guests to get a feel for what the restaurant offers daily. This included: a Kale Salad, the (impressively stacked) Peacemaker Cobb Salad, Pork Belly Cracklin’, a (hefty) Beef Brisket, a Fried Oyster Po’ Boy, Blackened Steelhead, Southern Fried Chicken, Bourbon Bacon Bannofee and Valrhona Chocolate Lava Cake. I was surprised at how elegant they made Louisiana-inspired food look.
Chewies has a decent selection of wine with whites that are predominantly from BC and California, and a good mix of international reds including Australian Cabernets, Spanish Tempranillos and Italian Primitivos. Their draught beer selection is average with the only real standout on tap being Parallel 49. I was happy to see that they had Phillips Bluebuck and Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale by the bottle though. Can you tell I love craft beer?
To get a full “Louisiana experience” in Vancouver, here’s what I’ll be going back for:
- Fried Oyster Po’ Boy with Fanny Bay oysters, tartar sauce and iceberg lettuce on a traditional French baguette
- Cafe Du Monde Style Beignets (I also tried them in New Orleans and loved them) – I’m keen to see Pastry Chef Maria Telma Guvara‘s take on this traditional treat.
- New Orleans Style Gumbo with shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken and “dirty rice” (the latter is a traditional rice that includes corn and other such “dirty” ingredients)
- Lousiana Blue Crab Cakes with fire-roasted red pepper remoulade
- Shrimp & Grits (New Orleans style beer and rosemary shrimp with aged white cheddar cheese grits)
The launch party was such a success that it spread like rapid-fire in the digital world, trending third behind #Supermodels (Victoria Secret Fashion Show) and #RyanKesler. Zuckermann, who also manages the Social Media for the business couldn’t have been more thrilled, flashing the stats around at the event with a grin from ear-to-ear. For more photos from the event, check out my Chewies Media Bash set on Flickr.
Chewies Coal Harbour is located at 1055 West Hastings Street.