Joe Fortes

Seafood and Chop House

777 Thurlow (at Robson) – Vancouver BC

604 669 1940


If I had to sum up Joe Fortes in just one word it would be: Loud. My first impression of Joe’s was two stories of yelling punctuated by a lively pianist perched midway up the staircase. Okay, I admit that ‘loud’ can easily be interpreted as ‘lively’. But still I wouldn’t recommend Joe’s for a quiet romantic night, a dinner with your hard of hearing grandma, or anyone prone to headaches.

My second impression came from the service which was polite and informative – but our main server wasn’t that ‘into us’ (if you know what I mean). It seemed like she’d really rather be serving someone else. I understand. That’s exactly how I feel at work most of the time, too. It’s a hard feeling to hide. Lucky for us there were about 134239 servers as well as busboys, pepper grinders, water fillers, and some sort of supervisor types milling about to jump to our aid.

Anyway, let’s move onto the menu. Joe’s has an extensive wine list with over 400 different wines ranging in price from $20 to $450. There is something for everyone…pretty much. But I do have a valuable tip for you. I rarely drink alcohol at restaurants because it is a freaking rip off! Maybe you already knew that. Our perfectly likable 0.5L of Californian Matchbook Syrah ran us $33 at Joe’s – whereas I stumbled across a bottle at the liquor store for a mere $17. It was even the same year. Boo, restaurants! Yay, liquor store!

Ah well, back to the menu. Joe’s is a seafood and chop house – so the oyster bar looks great, there is plenty of fresh fish to choose from and there are some tasty looking steaks. The prices on the dinner menu start at about $20. What can I say? It all seems reasonable until you get to the $60 crab legs. Those crab legs better be dipped in freaking GOLD! But – get over it – because the rest of the menu looks good and we came for Dine Out Vancouver anyhow.

Ryan is getting the caesar salad, salmon caught by Rick Burns (a Vancouver based fisher), and the chocolate lava cake. I’m ordering the clam chowder, sirloin and prawns, and vanilla creme brulee.

The appetizers were sort of a let down. The croutons in the caesar are real tooth cracking, cheek cutters and the clam chowder is strangely spicy with an overwhelming aroma of pig. But the clams in the chowder are great and that is the feature.

The salmon (pictured at the beginning of the post) was served with artichokes, red pepper puree, and fennel and it was absolutely divine. The prawns were delightful and I wish there would have been 300 of them instead of a mere 3. The steak was a lovely, juicy, flavorful meal. And it was nice to find that Joe’s knows the meaning of medium-rare-RARE.

Both the mains were exceptionally yummy. Of course, my meal wouldn’t be complete without a baseless complaint:

when I saw lima beans on my plate I whined like a spoiled 6 year old “are those LIMA beans?! I feel like I’m in HELL!” But seriously, who still eats lima beans?! They are the worst! Fortunately, I survived the senseless and brutal ordeal of eating 4 lima beans. The first one was just to make sure lima beans are still disgusting (they are), and the other 3 limas were ingested accidentally because they were all mixed in with the tasty corn and buttery mashed potatoes.

Finally, the ungodly lima beans were cleared away and the desserts arrived. The creme brulee was light and fluffy. But it was just a regular creme brulee. Whereas the lava cake was so good and so dark I felt like I’d just fallen into a deep bucket of sin. I didn’t want to wait to take a picture nor did I want Ryan to have any of it.

I mean, sure, I’ve made lava cake at home but it tasted like dirty penises compared to this magically rich dessert. Things this good are usually illegal, and if the police had been there this cake would have been arrested. It’s always nice to end on a great dessert. If you’re dining at Joe’s I say skip the appetizers and order double desserts.

Make that triple desserts.

Bonuses: Rooftop garden, live music nightly, accepts online reservations via open table, takes part in the Ocean Wise conservation program.

Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner.


Perfect Pairing:

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra Sings Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River, and Other Academy Award Winners

Yes, that’s the title.

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