Coast Community Table
The focal point at Coast is a 15-seat community table that comes complete with Chef Sean Riley. It’s a place to meet and eat, where diners can easily talk to one another and more often than not, find something in common—great food. It’s a place for people and chef to share information and the most sensible place to dine if you or someone in your party has a dietary concern. At the community table, Chef Riley has the ability to create any special requests. Where else can you get this up-close and personal with a professional chef?
Dining at Coast, particularly at the Community Table, means nutritious, “smart” eating. The freshest ingredients are used (such as halibut—delivered daily). “Our focus is on clean cooking, accenting fresh flavours and natural reductions,” says Chef Riley. “The key is buying the best."
Q: Sometimes there is a disconnect between diner and chef –via the server--when it comes to special requests but having you at the community table (CT) circumvents any miscommunication. Do you think there’s much of a communication breakdown with servers?
A: "It’s not an issue at Coast and if there is a dietary concern, the chef goes out on the floor and speaks to that customer directly. Having said that, communication at the CT is a lot better, simply because I am right there with the diner".
Q: Are people at the CT more likely to be “foodies” than regular diners?
A: "For sure. Lots of people who like to cook come here for new ideas – everything served from the CT is cooked in two pans so anything can be replicated at home – simple, clean cooking."
Q: Do you get a lot of regulars at the CT?
A: "Definitely. Some dine here a few times a week – Jimmy (our centre table server) and I have built a rapport with so many people that we know them on a first-name basis. We try to keep the CT fun and interactive."
Q: Do you like the role of chef/performer?
A: "Yes. I like interacting with guests and feel good educating people in a trade that is sometimes misunderstood – it’s the whole package, not just about food. It could be about how many hours in a day we work."
Q: Most people think that dining out means too much fat, salt, sugar and huge portions?
A: "Nothing on our menu is guilty of that – advantages of the CT are small courses and customized menus. No salt, no problem. I have guests who dine here every Friday since we opened and both are on a salt-free diet."
Q: How can a diner make the most of your menu, meaning smart and healthy choices?
A: "Our entire menu is about those choices but the stand-out would be the
'7 spiced Ahi Tuna Sashimi Salad'. Order it as an appetizer (5oz portion) or as an entrée (6.5 oz). But the reality of the CT is that there is no menu—it changes daily. And we can put together requests on the spot.
We also take pride in making natural reductions. For instance, I make natural fish stock with halibut bones and reduce it until it becomes a sauce on its own. When local BC produce is available I make veggie purées."
Q: The tuna salad is stand-out: silky smooth and the spiced crust gives the right amount of heat…
A: "Tuna is quite a fatty fish but it is good fat. It comes with fresh vegetables, citrus, and a smidgeon of salt."
Q: What else would you recommend?
A: One of the smartest food choices on the menu is wild salmon. We serve it with vanilla-citrus beurre blanc but if you want to cut out dairy, a delicious option is grilled pineapple salsa with cilantro, shallots and a teaspoon of honey.
Q: How can you indulge a sweet tooth healthy at Coast?
A: "We have fresh seasonal fruit and cheese plates. When BC berries are in season I will make ice wine sabayon (no extra added sugar) and when you make a reservation at the CT (which is necessary at least one day in advance) we welcome any special requests, from appetizers to dessert."
Q: Good to know. And how far in advance do you have to book the tasting menu?
A: If you can let us know a few days ahead of time, all the better.
See you at the Community Table!
Interview by Jane Mundy The Write Word
(Photos: Tracey Kusiewicz)
7 spiced Ahi Tuna Recipe
Grilled Salmon Recipe
Articles on Food Vancouver: