Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar entrance

Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar is a new Kitsilano restaurant with a New Orleans-inspired menu. Fresh, local seafood plays a starring role here, in a comfortable interior with lots of wooden tables, booths, a steam bar and 14 seat oyster bar.

Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar

This is the first location for co-owner Richard Chew, who together with partners Mel and Jamie Haddad hope to work Chef Tyrell Brandvold’s magic into the hearts and appetites of Vancouver.

Chewies also has a working relationship with The David Suzuki Foundation, supporters of the restaurant’s sustainable menu and food standards. Speaking of sustainable measures, Chewies uses the Vivreau water bottling system in house.

I was invited to the opening last night to sample the menu and meet the team behind Chewies.

Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar Shucking the gold Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar

Oysters are the focus here, however the theme is Deep Southern cuisine. Think New Orleans style gumbo, étouffée, fried chicken, Creole Mussels, and fabulous beignets, royally sprinkled with powdered sugar and served along with a chicory coffee anglaise.

[French Quarter Beignets, $6]

We ordered these off the menu last night and were wowed by the light, sweet, decadent flavour and texture. The ingredients are brought in from world-renowned Café du Monde, in the heart of the French Quarter.

Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar

We started with a selection of fresh shucked oysters from Deep Bay, Fanny Bay, Kumamoto and Ships Point. Chewies plans to showcase BC, Washington State, and east coast oysters on its menu, depending on availability and the condition of the waters from where they’re fished.

steamer bar

The steam kettles line the bar close to the entrance. Further along is an upstairs seating area with the oyster bar and several booths and tables.

After our fill of oysters (served with horseradish, lemon, parsley and various sauces), we ordered a few of Chewies’ amazing buttermilk biscuits ($3), drizzled with honey.

Buttermilk biscuits

I chose the BBQ shrimp and grits ($15) as an entrée; my husband ordered the Gumbo, with prawns, chicken, and Andouille sausage ($15). The shrimp sauce is made New Orleans style with beer and rosemary in the mix, while the grits were tastier (and less salty) than I remember grits to be. Chewies adds parmesan cheese to theirs. It went so well with the BBQ sauce.

BBQ shrimp and grits
[BBQ shrimp and grits]

The Gumbo is rich, spicy, and flavourful.

Gumbo with prawns, chicken, Andouille sausage
[Gumbo with prawns, chicken, Andouille sausage]

Southern Fried Chicken (2 day marinated buttermilk fried chicken, Cajun honey butter drizzle, mash and beans)
[Two day marinated buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken, beans, Cajun honey butter drizzle, $16]

Cayenne Chocolate Cake
[Cayenne Chocolate Cake, $6]

We enjoyed a Chilean 2009 Reserva Veramonte Chardonnay (Casablanca Valley, $8/glass, $40/bottle) with our dishes. At present, the wine menu covers BC, Australia, California and Chile. The ‘big ass’ 20 oz draft beers include lager, pale ale, amber ale, honey brown, cream ale, 1516, seasonal tap, and Guinness, and range in price from $6 to $8. A selection of bottled (and big bottled) beer is also available, not to mention some pretty amazing looking cocktails.

[Caesar, $9]

Ringing the bell for first-time oyster patrons!
[First time trying oysters?]

We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, selection of old classic rock tunes, and the entertaining, outgoing staff. We’ll be back to try the Creole mussels, fried chicken, caramel custard bread pudding and more of those delightful oysters!

Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar

Chewies is located at 2201 West 1st Avenue (corner of 1st and Yew) in Kitsilano. Visit the website for opening hours and contact/reservation details.

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