Yesterday we thought we’d get out of the usual downtown bubble and take the Aquabus to Granville Island to have a late lunch at Sandbar. I used to work in the Pacific Culinary Arts School office building about five years ago, and used to frequent this place for dinner quite a bit – by now it’s probably been about two years since I’ve been back for a visit.
We went and sat on the covered patio at one of the tables right next to a fireplace. They have great heated lamps as well, so even though it was below freezing out (or at least felt like it), we all managed to stay warm and I was just wearing my sweater during the whole meal. In case that isn’t enough, there are also warm blankets over most of the chairs.
We all felt like trying a bunch of different things, so we decided on a few tapas and an entree – but all to share. The classic dish to get here that’s a popular favourite is the Wok Squid (or calamari). This is fried with chilies, garlic, cilantro, ginger, and I’ve had it quite a few times in the past. I would definitely recommend this as a starter or one of the items that you get if you head over to Sandbar.
We also got the Pork & Vegetable Potstickers These had a tasty filling, and I also enjoyed the sweet chili-garlic & soy dipping sauce, but around the edges of them, the dough was a bit thick and too hard and crunchy – it kind of hurt the inside of my mouth a bit. It also made it feel like the dough was a bit stale or something.
The BBQ Ribs forno baked, mongolian style, were not too bad, but I’m not a huge ribs fan. Another person at the table really loved them, but I’m just not huge on BBQ sauce. The meat did fall off the bone and was quite tender though.
We also had the Asian Lettuce Wraps, which comes with chicken, iceberg lettuce, and hoisin sauce, along with some shredded carrots and beets and some other greens. I actually preferred the lettuce wraps from Azia that I tried a couple of weeks ago. The mixture was less flavourful here, unless you added a lot of hoisin to the wrap.
The one main dish we ordered was the Cedar Plank West Coast Salmon. This is baked right on the cedar plank, with brown sugar, soy & lemon, and comes over a bed of rice with a roasted tomato and asparagus. Again, I found the salmon a bit overcooked and not overly flavourful. The rice was a bit soggy as well, but the tomato tasted alright. I wouldn’t order this again, and it’s one of their signature dishes.
Overall, I was disappointed in our meal. Although the patio, view and service was wonderful, I feel like the food itself has gone downhill quite a bit since I last ate at Sandbar. I still liked the Wok Squid, but everything else was just mediocre and I left feeling a little bit unfulfilled about it all. The location is great and they likely still do really well with the tourist crowd, but I can’t say there is anything else really special about the food anymore.
I hope their fresh sheet of daily fish and sushi is still worth the visit! Please chime in if you’ve had a recent good experience.
The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant
1535 Johnston Street