Sandbar Restaurant interior

The Sandbar Restaurant always brings back good memories for my husband and me. It was the first Vancouver restaurant we’d ever visited, years ago while on holiday and still living in Europe. The location is sublime, with both Granville Island Bridge and gorgeous city views from the top floor and heated patio.

Sandbar Restaurant view


Last week, we graciously accepted an invitation to enjoy the Granville Island Brewery/Sandbar’s brewmaster dinner collaboration. This event showcased a five course food and pairing menu in line with our beautiful Vancouver autumn.

From Lager to hearty seasonal Pumpkin Ale, we were treated to a variety of fish and meat dishes, topped off with a roasted Asian pear and basil strudel.

Sandbar chef William Tse
[Sandbar chef William Tse]

GIB Brewmaster Vern Lambourne was on hand to explain each of the four beers, while Sandbar Chef William Tse described his dishes and how each was considered with regard to the particular brew.

Pan seared marinated halibut, sashimi of sweet scallop, pineapple honey jam
[Pan seared marinated halibut, sashimi of sweet scallop, pineapple honey jam]

Our first dish was a pan seared marinated halibut, served with sashimi of sweet scallop, atop pineapple honey jam. The chosen pairing was GIB’s Cypress Honey Lager. A touch of honey in the lager rounds out the bitterness and goes great with seafood. The sweetness of both scallop and pineapple really married well with this beer.

GIB Cypress Honey Lager
[GIB Cypress Honey Lager]

A West coast seafood chowder arrived next, containing a bacon confit, mussels, clams, prawns, salmon gyoza, crab cake, all on a bed of coconut cream broth. Added to this was a hint of lemongrass, which gave a really unique taste to the bacon confit.

West coast seafood chowder
[West coast seafood chowder]

Lions Winter Ale was poured with this dish. I found its creamy white chocolate finish a delicious compliment to both the crab cake and gyoza.

Lions Winter Ale
[Lions Winter Ale]

Further into the tasting, I discovered how the coconut cream also worked with the beer. Everything in this non-traditional chowder dish was well prepared and a good choice for GIB’s holiday seasonal.

Island Lager Granita
[Island Lager Granita]

Now came the palate cleanser: an Island Lager Granita with hints of citrus and chili, served in an espresso cup. We noticed a considerable change in palate after a few bites, as the chowder’s garlic taste began to dissipate. Chef Tse prepared a ‘magic potion for the palate’ with this one!

GIB Island Lager
[GIB Island Lager]

Equally tasty and refreshing was its paired Island Lager. With similar notes in each of the two, this was a perfect pause between the seafood and our next dish, an applewood roasted ribeye steak with house made roasted pumpkin tortellini, honey lemon candied beets, and star anise demi-glaze.

Applewood roasted 8 oz Ribeye steak with roasted pumpkin tortellini

Normally I’m not a big steak eater, however the demi glaze gracing the steak, together with the limited edition GIB Pumpkin Ale, combined for an excellent taste combination, with the cloves and pumpkin seasoning in the beer livening the pasta dish, also containing pumpkin.

GIB Pumpkin Ale
[GIB Pumpkin Ale]

The demi-glaze was prepared with a Pumpkin Ale reduction, giving it a hearty flavour, its colour derived from star anise. The steak was simply seared on an open fire grill, served medium rare. I did notice the sweetness of the meat and the sweetness of the malt together in my mouth.

I felt that the pasta could have been cooked for just a minute longer. The filling was delicious.

Roasted Asian pear and basil strudel, vanilla bean gelato

To cap an already delightful round of courses, the waitstaff brought out a roasted Asian pear and basil strudel for dessert. While there wasn’t any beer (or coffee) served, it was a divine creation reminiscent of fall itself: heartwarming and comfy.

GIB brewmaster dinner souvenir glasses
[GIB brewmaster dinner souvenir glasses]

There aren’t any GIB brewmasters dinners coming up in Vancouver; the next one is slated for Calgary towards the end of the year. I hope that this event will repeat in the new year. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a sit down supper with flowing conversation and craft beer!

GIB Lions Winter Ale

The Sandbar Restaurant is located at 1535 Johnston Street on Granville Island. Granville Island Brewery is located at the entrance to Granville Island, 1441 Cartwright Street.

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