Joe Fortes

Joe Fortes is no stranger to the Vancouver dining scene. Since 1985, the classic chop and seafood restaurant has served up locals and tourists for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, and happy hour.

Joe Fortes Brunch-4

The large dining room offers a lot of natural light. A large horseshoe bar commands the front portion of the restaurant; directly to its rear is the famed oyster bar. An upstairs dining room as well as a seasonal patio (with living green wall) add a couple of nice spaces for parties and special events.

Joe Fortes Brunch-6

With its reputation as Vancouver’s best oyster bar and with November being Ocean Wise Seafood Month, my husband and I found it the perfect opportunity to experience their brunch menu. Many dishes are Ocean Wise-sanctioned here, an assurance of receiving high quality, sustainably-sourced seafood on our plates.

Joe Fortes vanilla latte

Our waitress started my husband off with a glass of bubbly (available by the glass, $8.50 to $10; fresh orange juice optional) and for me, a vanilla latte ($4.75), something to warm me up from a chilly, yet sunny morning at our window table. The tall, not-too-sweet drink was layered with rich coffee, topped with a foamy finish.

Joe Fortes homemade chocolate chip scones

While I was away admiring the numerous awards and history on the restaurant’s walls, our server had brought a basket of homemade chocolate chip mini scones, making my vanilla latte order a smart choice in retrospect!

Joe Fortes Brunch-1

The menu is extensive and offers an excellent variety of fresh seafood and shellfish, soups, salads, classic brunch dishes, sandwiches, and oysters on the half shell.

Joe Fortes oysters on the half shell

We picked a dozen oysters from the fresh sheet, including Joe’s Gold and Gem (Read Island), Satori (Denman Island), and Village Bay (Acadian Peninsula). They’re market-priced and can be ordered by the piece, giving us a good sampling of the freshest BC, West coast, and East coast bivalves.

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Our favourite was the Gem, with a mild/sweet flavour, a bit larger but not as deep as a Kusshi. New Brunswick’s Village Bay oysters were also a good value, with a good mouthful and salty finish.

Joe Fortes oysters on the half shell

This month’s special feature is Eggstravaganza. Three egg dishes are on offer for $9.95 on weekends through November 24. Classic Eggs Benedict, Chorizo and Hash, and Double-Smoked Bacon and Eggs are available.

Joe Fortes seafood skillet
[Joe Fortes seafood skillet]

On this occasion however, a brand-new menu item caught my eye: the Seafood Skillet, a hot skillet with steelhead trout, scallop, and prawns atop a layer of potato rosti, alongside poached eggs with hollandaise, and two toasted English muffins ($18.95). The rosti’s seasonings blend perfectly with the softness of the poached egg, succulent prawn, and seared scallop.

The muffins definitely don’t come from a grocery store. These had both texture and crunch, slightly smaller than a typical store-bought muffin.

Joe Fortes jumbo Nova Scotia scallops
[Joe Fortes jumbo Nova Scotia scallops]

My husband chose the jumbo Nova Scotia scallops in lemon butter sauce ($30.95), with a hearty portion of jasmine rice and seasonal veggies. We both noticed how well-seared the scallops were, containing a good bite and not overpowered by the butter. A squash purée accompaniment added hearty flavour to the rice and veg.

Joe Fortes Brunch-12

Within an hour of opening, the restaurant was already packed and buzzing with a variety of diners. Located just off Robson Street a block West of Burrard, this is ideal spot to gather with friends or take a shopping break to enjoy a meal.

Joe Fortes dessert trio
[Joe Fortes dessert trio]

With just a tad room left in our bellies, we eyed the dessert menu. The Dessert Trio ($15.95) is artfully presented on a square plate with sprinklings of icing sugar and chocolate and caramel swipes.

Joe Fortes Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée, biscotti

Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée, molten center chocolate cake, tiramisu, brandied cherries, biscotti, and vanilla gelato atop a shortbread cookie all made their way onto this dish. Each component was savoured, right down to the thin homemade almond biscotti. These items all form part of the regular dessert menu.

Joe Fortes tiramisu

Former chef at both The Cannery Seafood Restaurant (now defunct) and The Fish House in Stanley Park, Chef Wayne Sych has worked in kitchens since the age of 15. He now oversees 70 employees in the busy Joe Fortes kitchen, turning out dishes that continue to collect awards (and full seatings) for the iconic Vancouver restaurant.

Joe Fortes Brunch-2

Joe Fortes is located at 777 Thurlow Street in Vancouver. Visit the website for detailed menu information and reservations.

Disclaimer: Our brunch was compliments of Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House for the purpose of writing this article.


  • Comment by Ainsleigh — November 5, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

    Your pictures are amazing, and the food looks delicious!

  • Comment by Ariane Colenbrander — November 5, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

    Thanks, Ainsleigh! Beautifully tasty food!

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