As Canada’s gateway to the Pacific, Vancouver offers fantastic opportunities to indulge in a mélange of culture and food. While the art of BC’s Indigenous cultures is highly visible, it is bewildering that there is only one authentic First Nations restaurant in the city.
Salmon n’ Bannock opened its doors in 2010 and is Vancouver’s only restaurant that is fully owned and operated by First Nations people. Located amongst retail shops on a busy thoroughfare, this quiet and intimate bistro seats up to 40 guests, and features original art by local Indigenous artists.
For menu items, owner Inez Cook (from the Nuxalk Nation, BC) uses only organic ingredients, and ethically sourced wild sockeye salmon and game meats such as elk, bison, and wild boar. The dishes are traditionally crafted, but are presented with a modern flair.
We ordered the cured sockeye salmon appetizer, which is drizzled in a beetroot and citrus crème fraîche that adds salty and zestful accents in flavour. A tender sage-smoked sockeye fillet is dressed in a lemon mayonnaise inside the signature Salmon n’ Bannock burger. The bison burger patty is surprisingly juicy, and is topped with dijon mayonnaise; a slice of wild boar bacon adds a smoky aftertaste. The burgers are served on a choice of traditional or gluten-free bannock bread that is baked fresh in-house daily. The elk burger is popular, so arrive early to enjoy. A group favourite is the free-range bison short ribs, which are slow cooked to slide-off-the-bone tenderness. A sage-blueberry preserve provides a nice tang.
The restaurant also offers a generous selection of drinks, including organic Spirit Bear coffee, herbal teas and local beers, as well as wines from First Nations wineries from BC’s Okanagan region. Home-baked desserts, such as bannock bread pudding with fresh berry coulis, are tempting if you are not already too full.
When visiting Salmon n’ Bannock, you are guaranteed to return more than once for both the food and the experience. Reservations are highly recommended.