Published on VancouverisAwesome.com
Putting aside the pervasive bigotry, in-your-face bible-thumpers, and discriminatory laws–looking at you Mississipi and North Carolina–, I have a soft spot for all things Southern for reasons unknown. Goes without saying, I’m primarily referring to the food. And Beyoncé.
I believe I could easily get kidnapped if my kidnappers are smart enough to use fried chicken and cornbread to capture me; that’s how much I love southern comfort food. Fortuitously and surprisingly, Vancouver happens to have its share of Southern food restaurants, and I got to check out three marvelous places over the past two weeks. Now, I understand that normal people don’t get as ecstatic over fried chicken as I do, but even if you don’t particularly have an interest in southern fare, all three of these places are worth checking out.
We checked out Revel right after a long day of work and very much appreciated its funky and charming vibe. This Gastown-meets-New-Orleans eatery, as it turns out, is pretty much a decent-sized room in which you revel in mouthwatering southern fare, mean Southern-inspired libations, and live blues/jazz music. The musician singing the blues, me trying to have more of the crab cakes without my friend noticing, it just all felt so right.
Every single thing we ordered was phenomenal — we had the Andouille Sausage & Shrimp Gumbo served with warm cornbread, Louisiana Blue Crab Cakes, and Kentucky Sweet Tea-Marinated Fried Chicken. Although I would highly recommend each dish, there is a reason Revel Room’s most popular menu item is the Cup O Gumbo. Seriously, y’all ain’t going to believe how good it is.
You don’t expect a soul food restaurant/oyster bar to work in Coal Harbour as well as Chewies Steam does, but they certainly pull it off. The restaurant is down-to-earth yet classy with just enough whimsy. It was just a wonderful and delicious experience across the board.
We started with the croc & hush puppies–fried crocodile with corn hush puppies and jalapeño jelly on the side– and Dungeness crab cakes. Not only was the croc & hush puppies an unbelievably unique culinary experience, but the crab cakes were also the best I’ve had in Vancouver. Also, if you’ve never had grits, I urge you to go to Chewies and order the Shrimp & Grits. I mean I am not normal when it comes to food, but I seriously still cannot get over how good that dish was.
The Ouisi Bistro will always have a special place for me as the stunningly hip L’OUISIanian restaurant (in case you were wondering about the name) where I lost my alligator meat virginity. And I have to say that it was a surprisingly fun ride. Along with the Gator Bites, we had the Jambalaya and deep fried pickles, both of which were perfection. When are fried pickles ever less than perfect?
Beyond how sublime the food was, I felt a level of authenticity at The Ouisi Bistro that I wasn’t able to at the other two restaurants; everything about it felt genuinely southern. In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I am contemplating revisiting The Ouisi for my birthday dinner and re-experiencing the beignets with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry coulis.