Sherman's Food Adventures: Coquille Fine Seafood

Coquille Fine Seafood

For a city that has access to some of the best seafood in the world, Vancouver doesn't boast many restaurants that specialize in it.  Sure, we see plenty of Chinese seafood restaurants and of course, the plethora of Japanese establishments.  However, the number of truly local seafood joints barely break 10.  I'm not going to include oyster bars and places that serve seafood as only part of their menu.  So when Coquille Fine Seafood set up shop in the thankfully gone Secret Location, it was on my hit list.  Since my mom absolutely loves seafood, we celebrated her birthday there.

There was no way we were going to dine there and not try their Seafood Platter.  We chose the medium version and it consisted of oysters, king crab, scallops, sea bream, hamachi, octopus, lobster with XO and side stripe shrimp cocktail.  Although the sticker shock of $110.00 might scare some, I thought it was reasonable given the contents and the overall quality.  The highlight for us was the lobster as the tail was stuffed full of bouncy nuggets that were sweet and fresh.  It was tossed with celery and XO sauce where there was a slightly spicy and briny flavour.  After that, the buttery hamachi ate as good as its beautiful hue while the sea bream was refreshing and tasted like the sea.  Scallops were buttery and only lightly seasoned, but the octopus could've been a bit firmer as it was didn't retain a chew.  It tasted really good though with a lightly spicy meatiness.

Onto another seemingly decadent and subsequently expensive item, we had the Crab & Spinach Dip served with grilled sourdough.  This was $48.00.  Why you might ask?  How about an entire dungeness crab nestled in the cheese and spinach?   Even though the picture doesn't do it justice, there was indeed a mess of fluffy crab in there.  As such, the whole thing ate like a crab toast rather than a dip.  We spread it onto the smoky and crunchy charred sourdough and ate it as such.  Very cheesy with the subtle sweetness of crab.  With that being said, there wasn't enough dip left for the last piece of bread though.  We also ventured into the happy hour menu and got the Fritto Misto which consisted mostly of fish with some jalapeno and fennel.  This was very good though as the batter was super crispy, yet thin and not greasy at all.  It was seasoned enough where the ailoi wasn't even needed.  The fish was flaky and almost juicy.

For the kiddies, my son decided to try the 2 Piece Fish & Chips with tartar sauce.  Although the batter looked rather thick, it was fine.  It was mostly crispy except for a few spots in the centre.  It was well-seasoned on its own, so that the fish tasted good without the tartar sauce.  The fish itself was supremely fresh where each flake was tender but still had a slight bite.  On the side, the tartar sauce was chunky with a balanced amount of tang and sharpness from the onions.  My daughter ended up with the Albacore Tuna Club with bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato.  This was also very good with rare tuna that was soft and buttery accented by thick-sliced bacon.  Although the toasted roll looked dense, it was actually very light and airy.  Hence, it held everything together and didn't overwhelm the delicate tuna.  On the side, the triple-blanched fries were outstanding.  Even though they were uniformly crispy and aromatic, there was still plenty of potatoness left.

To get a sense of the larger hot plates available on the menu, we chose the Poached Filet of Halibut with a oyster butter sauce as well as the Bucatini all'amatriciana with clams.  If the aforementioned dishes weren't proof enough that the fish at Coquille was fresh, the halibut was the proverbial cherry on top.  It was perfect.  No really, it was!  It was buttery and flaky where it was just barely cooked through.  Halibut that is not fresh (ie. frozen) can never attain this texture.  The oyster beurre blanc was silky and really briny which could've been dialed back a abit.  As for the bucatini, it was firmly al dente and bathed in a noted garlicky and onion tomato sauce.  The guanciale was prepared crispy and added both texture and depth.  The star of the place was the enormous and plump clams.

Another happy hour item we ordered was the Lamb Ribs with mint chermoula.  Although this was the one non-seafood item we ordered (and there aren't many of these on the menu), it was nicely executed.  Crusted with a herb rub, the outside was crispy and lightly spicy.  Underneath, the meat was fatty, juicy and melt-in-our-mouths tender.  Again, the ribs alone were flavourful enough on their own, but chermoula added an earthy garlicky tartness.   At this point, we were stuffed and couldn't down dessert.  Was a moot point anyways as there wasn't much of a selection.  Regardless of that, the seafood we had at Coquille was indeed fine and fresh.  It was prepared properly and although the pricing for some items are on the higher side, we thought it was well worth it.

The Good:
- Supremely fresh seafood
- Prepared expertly
- Not lacking in flavour

The Bad:
- Some items are rather pricey (but worth it!)
- Limited dessert menu (but we never tried it, it could've been good)


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