Sherman's Food Adventures: Seaside Provisions

Seaside Provisions

It isn't a huge surprise that many of the best and well-known restaurants in the GVRD are located in Downtown or at least close by.  That is not a revelation as this is pretty much the same in any other major city in the world.  With housing and operational costs being so expensive in the Downtown core, we are seeing more and more people, along with the accompanying services, pop up in the suburbs.  One of the newest, and in my opinion the nicest, developments is the Shipyards in North Vancouver.  Mijune and I were recently invited to try out Seaside Provisions located in the Seaside Hotel smack dab in the middle of the action within the trendy Shipyards District.  Also, I returned with my family within the week to try more items on our own coin.

With a focus on seafood, it was no surprise they started us off with some Kushi Oysters accompanied by chili oil vinaigrette, ponzu and and meyer lemon.   Properly shucked with no shell fragments, the oysters were beautifully fresh being sweet and briny.  Of the 3 sauces, I enjoyed the lemon the most as it was acidic and bright.  The ponzu was quite powerful in terms of salt, so only a few drops were needed.  Only slightly spicy, the chili oil was nice, yet at the same time, it wasn't necessary for much of it as it would've overwhelmed the delicate oyster.  Up next, we were presented with the Steelhead Salmon with nuoc cham, crispy shallot, cucumber ribbons and coriander.  Buttery and sweet, the salmon was fresh and served in large slices (that resulted in a meatier texture).  I thought the nuoc cham wasn't overpowering (as it could be), but a bit too sweet.  More acidity from the lime juice would've brought more life to the dish.

Since we didn't order the Seafood Platter on our initial visit, we were determined to try it out this time around.  The platter was actually a 2-tiered tower with the top sporting kushi oysters (with the same accompaniments), crudites, olives, Peruvian peppers, pickled pearl onions, red pepper condiment and tortilla chips.  Nothing unusual about this tier other than the properly shucked sweet and briny oysters. On the bottom tier, we found crab cakes, mussels in chili oil, lobster rolls, tuna ceviche, razor clam conserva and ikura.  The crispy crab cakes were full of fluffy crab and little filler.  We enjoyed the lobster rolls as there was no filler as well.  The bread was soft and nicely toasted.  Tuna was good, but there was a bit too much filler in the mix though.  The real treat was the briny razor clams.  Wish we had 2 tins!

Although not on their regular menu (as it was a daily feature), the Seared Sea Scallop was one of our favourites.  It was evenly and attractively seared where it was caramelized.  The scallop remained buttery soft and naturally sweet.   Despite the saltiness of the tamari soy butter, the scallop was still able to stand out.  To literally top it off, we found fried cauliflower and sourdough crumble (which helped soak up some of the soy butter).  A dollop of chive crème fraîche completed the dish.  My favourite of the night had to be the Clam & Mussels "Paella".  I put that in quotations because rather than rice, we found pearl barley instead.  So no, this wasn't a paella, but it was plenty tasty though.  Beyond the fresh and plump bivalves, the matbucha was deliciously savoury and slightly zesty.  Lots of flavour and impact to go with the natural sweetness of the clams and mussels.  Some fried cauliflower and labne topped off the dish.

Continuing with some of the "small plates" (which were not really all that small), we had the Burrata with white anchovy, chive oil, tomatoes and grilled sourdough from Lift Bakery.  Normally, I prefer the burrata whole, but I'm sure this would've increased the price of the dish (which was a reasonable $13.00 as it was served), however, this was not a huge deal.  I thought the cheese was creamy and fresh while the tomatoes were plump and bright.  I personally love white anchovies, so this was the salty brininess that I was expecting.  On the side, the grilled sourdough was crispy with an appealing chewiness.  For $12.00, the Grilled Octopus was a substantial dish at very reasonable price.  It was also good with braised and then grilled octopus that was tender with an appealing chew.  I would've liked to see a bit more char though.  Underneath, we found a smooth hummus, caramelized roast fennel and tangy confit gem tomatoes.

In an equally large portion, the Humboldt Squid was also a solid dish.  The large slices of squid were attractively grilled where they were tender with a bite.  I found that they were seasoned enough on their own but the squeeze of lemon did liven things up.  Things stayed bright with the side of quinoa tabbouleh.  Flavours were amped by the tangy and aromatic chermoula as well as the nutty tahini.  A splash of chili oil added a touch of spice to the dish.  Moving onto the larger items, we had the Roasted Free Range Game Hen with ajvar, kale and almond.  Tender and juicy, even the breast meat was moist.  We would've liked to see the hen crusted with the ajvar instead and then maybe finished off with some charring.  This way, the beautiful sweetness of the roasted red pepper would've been activated even more so.  Another winner in the value department as it was only $29.00.

Possibly tied with the best dish of the night (with the "Paella"), the Roasted Whole Sea Bass was beautifully prepared.  The fish itself featured evenly roasted skin with moist meat underneath.  It was fresh and featured the brightness of the sea.  It was accented nicely by the vermouth butter sauce, capers, clams, confit garlic and fresh herbs.  I enjoyed that the vermouth was definitely apparently while cooked down properly.  The sauce did not overwhelm the fish while complimenting it completely.  Again, the buttery plump clams were a bonus. On my second visit, we once again ordered the whole fish which was Salmon with mussels in a butter sauce.  If you look at the picture, you will notice it wasn't a whole salmon.  Rather it was 3 large pieces of salmon.  It made sense as a whole salmon might've been too big and really, hard to cook too.  Well, they did a good job here as it was crisped up on the outside while being flaky and moist on the inside.  Similarly to the other whole fish we had, there was enough shellfish to form a separate dish.

We also had the Wagyu Short Rib with creamed corn, broccolini and chili sauce.  The large rib was melt-in-our-mouths tender and fatty.  Interestingly, we really enjoyed the creamed corn underneath.  It was so appealingly sweet. The broccolini was cooked just enough where it was still crunchy.  We weren't sure the Chinese chili sauce was a good match here though.  A bit too salty, the dish would've been fine without it.  We had one more dish that was different from the first meal in the Gnocchi with wild mushroom, burnt butter molcajete sauce and crispy sage.  This was a large portion and also pretty good.  Although the gnocchi was on the firmer side, it still had a good mouth feel when chewed.  The molcajete was a bit more tomatoey than ones I've had in the past, but this version was perfect for this particular application.  Tangy and with just a hint of spice, it brought things alive.  Loved the bevy of mushrooms on top as it added both texture and umaminess.

From here we moved to the 3 available desserts including the Churro Donut.  This was rather ironic as we had churros and donuts earlier in the day.  The concept of the dessert was fine as the churro was crispy and sweet with the usual hit of cinnamon.  Further hits of rich sweetness was provided by the dulce de leche underneath.  In the centre, there was yogurt with a dusting of dehydrated raspberry powder.  The one thing they could've improved here was the oil content as the donut was soaked in too much of it.  To lighten things up, the featured Pavolva dessert was just the thing we needed after a filling meal.  It was large and crispy on the outside, while exhibiting elements of airy chewiness inside.  It was topped off with whipped cream, strawberries marinated in sherry vinegar and sancho pepper powder.  I thought the strawberries were impactful providing a sweet fruitiness combined with a natural tang and acidity from the vinegar.  Although not that noticeable, the pepper powder did add that "je ne sais quoi" background hit.

Our last dessert consisted of a Dark Chocolate Semifreddo with frangelico, cacao nibs, dulce de leche, cookie crumble and sea salt.  This was a solid dessert where the semifreddo was exactly how it should be, semi-frozen where it was firm, but soft enough to separate with a fork.  It was lightly sweet with the appealing bitterness from the dark chocolate.  The extra shot of sweetness was provided by the dulce de leche.  As you can see, my 2 visits pretty much tackled the entire menu.  From these experience, I am confident to say that most of the dishes at Seaside Provisions are good.  Love the use of an array of ethnic ingredients and sauces in their dishes.  Makes things interesting with unique flavour profiles.  Portions are generally good for the price and you get a certain Downtown vibe while being on the North Shore.

*First visit was complimentary, but second visit was at our own cost*

The Good:
- Reasonable pricing
- Well-portioned
- Lively dining space

The Bad:
- Nuoc Cham could've been less sweet
- Churro Donut was too oily


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