Images and words by Matt Law
In Vancouver it’s easy to find restaurants serving delicious food from around the world. Italian, Japanese, Indian – sometimes there are so many to choose from that it’s hard to make a choice at all.
However, if you’re after a truly traditional West Coast meal with international acclaim then Salmon n’ Bannock should be at the top of your list.
Since 2010 Salmon n’ Bannock has been one of Vancouver’s only Indigenous-owned and operated restaurants. The menu is crafted around fresh local ingredients, and everything is made from scratch.
The appetizer list includes treats like BBQ salmon mousse (served with bannock, of course), house smoked braised duck wings, and a sampler plate of free-range game meats.
Their mains include a bison pot roast, red snapper, and “garden balls” – vegan baked vegetable fritters on a bed of bannock dumplings.
One of the favourite items on the menu is the Salmon n’ Bannock Burger – a wild sockeye salmon fillet that is sage smoked three times after being sprinkled with an in-house brine of salt, sage, and other herbs.
Every ingredient in the burger, from the bannock bun to the lemon mayo, is made in house. And, yes, that includes the pickles.
Chef Janine Delorme-Bird from the Cree Nation started cooking when she was 7 years old. Today, she begins by showing me how they make their bannock.
“Everyone has their own bannock recipe, and everyone’s mother’s or grandmother’s is the best,” she says.
Once the bannock is in the oven, Janine begins the smoking process.
The salmon fillets are sage smoked three times for 10-15 minutes before being finished in the oven.
Chef Ida Baker of the Squamish Nation tells me the smell of the sage reminds her of her childhood and how they would smudge their home. She has been cooking for 45 years.
To say the burger tastes fresh would be an egregious understatement. I grew up on the West Coast and spent summers salmon fishing off Vancouver Island. I can honestly say that I’m hard pressed to remember any salmon from my childhood tasting better than this burger.
Visit Salmon n’ Bannock at 1128 W Broadway in Vancouver.