Before last week I had only previously met Chef Robert Clark on our website, reading THIS INTERVIEW with him in our series of Oceanwise Ambassador profiles. As a founding chef partner of that organization, he’s been there since before the name was even chosen and has been one of the biggest champions for sustainable seafood anywhere. His new Main Street shop, The Fish Counter, is now open for business so I figured I’d head over there, meet him in person, and take you for a tour of it. Going in I didn’t know that I’d come out feeling strongly that this is the best shop to open in Vancouver in a long time, but I do. And it is.
As you walk in, you’ve got two choices: head left to the fresh fish counter or right to the menu board for hot food that they serve out of the kitchen. I fully expected this to be a store that just sold fresh seafood and other ingredients to take home and cook with but, as Robert explained, opening this place was he and his co-founder (marine biologist Mike McDermid) walking the walk of sustainable food; nothing goes to waste here. If you buy a cut of meat from a fish and take it home, the rest of that fish might get cut up and immediately put into a dish on the hot food side.
Of course everything sourced is ultra sustainable. Pictured below top left is pink salmon, the most abundant salmon in BC (which you may remember Robert Clark getting behind HERE). The tuna under it was caught off the west coast of Vancouver Island, as was the dungeness crab. The clams and mussels are from Sawmill Bay. Those prawns on the left are from Cowichan Bay and that caviar is from Northern Divine, a company on the Sunshine Coast that’s now growing sturgeon meat and caviar (in a closed containment fish farm – that’s the only good kind) based on the endangered stock in the Fraser. And that’s just a peek.
They’ve got sauces and salads, and a secret recipe for fish n chips batter that comes in a jar. I bought a gift basket for some friends and it contained everything needed to make a fabulous seafood dinner.
And when you’ve got one of the world’s leading chefs running the place, you can bet that the food being prepared is going to be worth the trip from wherever you live in the city. I highly recommend the fish tacos (left).
The funny thing is that I didn’t even go in expecting to do a story on the place. I went in thinking I was going to get some fish to cook for dinner, but then I realized that Chef Clark and marine biologist McDermid were both there (as they always are, as it’s their business) and they have a ton of insight to share, so I asked a lot of questions as I’ve been known to do. It’d be a disservice to you if I didn’t share what a wonderful experience it was visiting, so I shot all of these photos on my phone and here we are.