There are a lot of great places to eat along Commercial Drive in Vancouver. It may have traditionally been something of an Italian neighborhood, but its scope today extends far beyond its immigrant roots. Even so, it still largely maintains its character as a place to get good food at a reasonable price. One such example of this is Merchant’s Oyster Bar, a relatively small establishment that can only seat about 20-30 people.
Susanne and I weren’t feel all that hungry, so we decided to share what otherwise may be viewed as appetizers.
BISON TARTARE – Cornichon, House Mustard, Quail Yolk ($13)
Bison meat is generally leaner than regular beef and it has a much deeper red color to it. I felt the tartare could have used a little more seasoning to help bring out the flavors of the meat, but having the quail yolk really helped to make for a great, smooth texture.
Regular price for oysters at Merchant’s is in line with other establishments like Rodney’s Oyster Bar and Etta’s Seafood. A single oyster will run you $3, while a dozen can be had for $27. There are usuallly three or four varieties available from the fresh board. If you come during “buck-a-shuck” or $1.50 happy hour, though, you can save quite a bit of money on these delicious mollusks.
JOYCE POINT OYSTERS ($18/dozen)
We ordered a dozen oysters from Joyce Point, which is located on West Redonda Island near Campbell River, BC. They’re a medium-sized oyster with more of a briny taste to them. While I liked the briny flavour, I generally prefer smaller oysters that have less of the fatty texture to them. That being said, at $1.50 each, they were a fantastic deal. They’d be even better during “buck a shuck” hours.
ROASTED BONE MARROW Parsley Salad, Tomato ($13 for two bones)
There’s something deliciously wonderful about bone marrow. It’s gelatinous and salty and fantastic. I just wish there was more of it.
I would not go so far as to say that Merchant’s Oyster Bar is a place you can go for a cheap dinner, but it is relatively inexpensive for the kinds of dishes that you can get. The quality is definitely there, thought he portions are on the smaller side and service was a little slow. I enjoyed the atmosphere and will likely return. Dinner for two — including a couple of drinks, tax and tips — came to around $75.