Although we have a few places in town that specialize in soups, there hasn't been one dedicated to chowders and specifically those served in sourdough bread bowls. Yes, if this sounds like Boudin in San Francisco, you aren't too far off. However, there are not many places in North America that offers up tasty clam chowder in house-baked sourdough bowls right along the water. In terms of Vancouver, we have to celebrate the opening of Crab Park Chowdery in Gastown because it is the only one of its kind at the moment.
Emily and I dropped by on an invitation to try all of their chowders including the Baked Potato served in a sourdough bread bowl. Loaded with tender chunks of potato and topped with green onion, tomato, sour cream and cheese, this was fairly heavy. The dominant flavour was the tart sour cream followed by the tart and plump tomatoes. This was definitely hearty, but a bit out-of-balance. I thought the Clam Chowder was pretty flavourful with the hit of salty and smoky bacon. There were layers of different tastes and textures like the briny clams, herbs and cream. I liked how it was thick, but not too thick.
We then sampled a trio including Tomato, Vegan Chili and Roasted Pepper and Corn. Of the 3, the latter was our favourite as it bordered on salty, but ultimately was a sock-in-the-face explosion of sweet corn, slight spice and creaminess. The tomato was aromatic and tart with a natural essence. There was some smoky chipotle in the background and an almost vanilla-like aroma at the end. As for the vegan chili, it was chunky, tart and definitely spicy. I didn't mind it, but I much prefer a meat version. But I understand the premise behind it - offering up a vegan choice. From the 5 items we tried, our favourite was the roasted pepper and corn chowder followed by the clam chowder. The others were okay, but I would stick with the 2 we mentioned.
*All soups were complimentary*
- A dedicated chowder spot with sourdough bowls, finally...
- Reasonably-priced for what you get
- No absence of flavour
- Although reasonably-priced, soup portion could be a touch larger
- Soups are flavourful, but some might find them salty