Tucked amongst a smattering of other stores and restaurants in a strip mall supposedly called “Broadway Centre”, I had walked past Salmon n’ Bannock many times. I had seen it, sure, but had never really seen it, if that makes any sense. Over the summer, it still had its big banner and a sign out front, but both had been missing since the fall and the place became more unassuming and less noticeable than before without those pieces of “advertisement”. However, I had popped in for a quick lunch one day over the summer and was blown away by the quality of the food. So when an opportunity presented itself one day, when Emme and I were stuck about what to do for dinner, I suggested Salmon n’ Bannock. Even months after my first meal there, the restaurant still exceeded my expectations.
I wasn’t sure how popular the place was, so I fretted the entire time that Emme and I were heading over that we might not get a table. After all, the food was so good the first time I ate there that it seemed unthinkable that the place wouldn’t be popular. Yet, when we stepped inside one weekend evening, the place was totally empty – aside from the waitress and chefs, of course. No matter – it’s nice to have a restaurant to yourself sometimes! The waitress was extremely friendly and seated us promptly, handing us menus and filling up our glasses of water right away. The ambiance was – and still is, based on another recent dining experience there – fantastic. The whole place exudes a feeling of warmth and comfort while maintaining a nice, classy feel – without seeming pompous or anything. The art on the walls is actually quite fascinating, and adds a really nice burst of colour to the place. The kitchen is open to the front, and delicious smells were wafting out even when we walked in. It was slightly chilly when we first stepped inside, but heated up right away and was soon pleasantly warm. The lighting and music were pleasing to the eye and ear, respectively… The interior and décor are both done in very good taste.
Aside from the wonderful setting, the service was also top-notch. Even after other customers came in a little later, the waitress perfectly managed all of the different tables, constantly keeping glasses full but always somehow finding time to chat pleasantly with customers who were asking about the menu (or the restaurant, if they were first-timers!). Even Emme and I found our inquiries about dishes met with polite responses and personal recommendations, when we asked for some. Any alterations we asked for were also met with complete willingness to change things around a tiny bit to suit our needs. Yes, clearly we were both really impressed by the service! Upon another more recent visit to Salmon n’ Bannock, we found that the waitress had moved out of Vancouver, but in her place is another outstanding server; The new waiter is just as friendly and helpful when it comes to suggesting items off the menu or offering background info about the restaurant – or interesting conversation, if you’re feeling talkative.
As for the food… It was as I remembered it: O-u-t-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g. I think I can confidently say that anything you order off of their menu is bound to be fantastic.
On our first visit together, Emme picked the Salmon n’ Bannock Burger, which the waitress did say was really good, and a side of Sweet Potato Wedges to accompany it. Needless to say, it was as the waitress said — only more than “really good”. The salmon was cooked to perfection and not even close or anywhere near overcooked or anything. It was bursting with flavour, and the bannock was just as good. The aïoli on the burger nicely complemented the salmon, and the entire dish just sang of quality. The sweet potato wedges were great, too; they were crisp on the outside but had a soft, delicious interior. Yes, they did make me wish I had forgone my habit of always ordering salad in favour of getting these with my dish instead. [And, trust me, that means a lot coming from someone as bizarre as myself who loves greens.]
Speaking of my dish, though… I’m sorry – if I said Emme’s was good, then mine was better… though I’m perhaps a tiny bit biased in saying that since I’m the one that ordered it. My main course was the Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich with Organic Mix Greens on the side, but it is of course the sandwich that was the highlight of my evening. Now, I have had a lot of smoked salmon in the past (because I am a huge fan of it – but not of how much it costs…), but I can honestly say that this was the best smoked salmon I have ever had. It was freshly smoked and just perfect in every way possible. It was the tastiest and most flavourful salmon I’ve ever had the joy of eating, and it did indeed melt deliciously in my mouth. The bannock was also great, but humble enough in terms of flavour to let the salmon be the real showstopper. As for the side salad: The greens were fresh, the dressing a perfect match for them, and the walnuts added a pleasant and much needed crunch-factor to the salad. Yes, the dressing is to die for… but if you’re not on a diet (or a big salad lover, like I am), do yourself a favour and try out the sweet potato wedges.
As aforementioned, Emme and I visited Salmon n’ Bannock again more recently, when the wonderful waitress had just been replaced with an equally wonderful waiter, and had a second dining experience that was just as stellar as the first. I believe I’ve made it quite clear by now that this restaurant is definitely a hit with Emme and me, so I’ll just quickly review our dishes on the second visit:
I chose the Seafood Chowder, which may look like quite a humble dish upon first glance, but was truly full of flavour from the interesting blend of fish that go into the chowder. It has a great tomato base that could easily stand as a lone dish, as it was tasty enough to nicely stand up to the deliciousness of the fish. It came with some Bannock on the side, which was as I remembered it: fresh, soft on the inside, with a lovely crisp exterior and a wonderful buttery flavour.
Emme ordered a more expensive dish: the Bison Tenderloin, which came with a super tasty purée of carrots and parsnips, seasonal veggies, and wild mushrooms. The bison was perfect and juicy and just… awesome, if I may say so. Even without the sauce, which was also really great and not too overpowering or anywhere near underwhelming, it would’ve been fantastic. The mushrooms were a nice final touch and added great texture to the dish. Even the veggies on the side were sautéed to perfection and the purée, which one might look at and think “Ew, baby food?!” was actually really delicious. I kind of wanted to steal it off of Emme’s plate, actually…
After our first visit, our super friendly and attentive waitress brought us Berry Bannock Bread Pudding — on the house! I’m not a bread pudding fan, so honestly I can’t comment on it, but Emme just about died and went to heaven after taking a bite. So take that as a sign that, yes, Salmon n’ Bannock even knows how to do amazing desserts.
The bill even came in a pretty little box with some Pacific Northwest Indian art on it. I have to say, it was a nice touch to present even the bill in a classy manner, and to go as far as to give two nicely wrapped candies alongside. It definitely brought the whole experience to a close in the best way possible.
Will I be going back? Um, yes. I think that goes without saying.