The decor looks like it’s designed to look like the inside of a fishing boat, making for a rather casual atmosphere where diners don’t hesitate to engage in rather loud conversations. You can still talk with the other folks at your table, but you might need to speak up. The menu is provided on a single plank with one side showing drinks and the other side showing the food. When coming to a place like this, it’s best to order several dishes for everyone to share.
The menu consists of a few chowders, some steamed shellfish, an assortment of cold dishes (like smoked salmon and ocean salad), and a range of hot dishes (like garlic shrimp, pan fried oysters, and potato encrusted halibut). Strangely, the raw oysters aren’t on the menu; the server just comes by and asks if you want any and what kinds of oysters you prefer. Most of them come from the West Coast, either from Puget Sound or Vancouver Island.
I didn’t order one, but a couple of my tablemates had the Zydeco Stew, Rodney’s signature Caesar. Yeah, that’s a prawn dangling off the side of the cup. It wasn’t exactly cheap at $10+ and, sadly, my friends said it wasn’t very good either. The heavy horseradish taste was a little overwhelming.
One thing I did enjoy was the assortment of sauces and condiments. There were at least three different cocktail sauces with varying levels of heat, two Tabasco sauces, and a couple other jars. That’s always fun.
Naturally, the stars of the show are the raw shucked oysters. We ordered two dozen between the seven of us and they were mostly in the small to small-medium range. I don’t like the bigger oysters, so these were a decent size. They were okay, I suppose, but I preferred the oysters I had at Coast Restaurant and Joe Fortes over these. I’m not saying they’re bad — they tasted fresh without being gooey — but they’re not exceptional either.
We ordered a few other things (not everything is pictured), including the Manhattan clam chowder shown above, the steamed mussels below, the coco curry prawns below that, and the oysters Rockefeller next to the prawns. Much like the shucked oysters, all the food was perfectly palatable, but none of it was particularly outstanding either. The chowder was very chunky, but the flavors were anything but breathtaking. The good news is that the general quality of the seafood was at least better than The Crab Pot in Bellevue
The atmosphere at Rodney’s is boisterous and friendly, and the wait staff are very attentive and playful. It’s a very busy restaurant, but I’m not entirely sure why when there are better seafood restaurants within walking distance.
When you’re paying what you’re paying (the bill with an automatic 18% gratuity for our party of seven came to $315, which works out to $45 per person), you expect a higher standard.
Rodney’s Oyster House is located at 1228 Hamilton Street in the Yaletown neighbourhood of Downtown Vancouver. It’s all metered parking ($4/hour) on the street, though there are a couple of nearby Easypark parking lots that charge $6 in the evenings.