Chambar Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Throwback Menu

Chambar, a Vancouver institution of casual fine dining and civilized debauchery, is celebrating their 20th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, they’ve introduced a special throwback menu which includes old favourites as well as 2004 pricing. The price point makes this menu a steal of a deal; for $45 you get three courses. The portions are generous and the options are delicious. This special menu of inaugural dishes was originally only going to be available until April 17th but it has been extended until April 28th.

Chambar Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Throwback Menu

Take a Trip Back in Time

Back in 2004, Chambar was founded by Nico Schuermans and Karri Green-Schuermans. The food menu crafted by Nico is predominantly Belgian but it also reflects French, Middle Eastern, and African influences. Carrying through the Belgian influence, Chambar was one of the first to bring Belgian beer culture to Vancouver. They also has an extensive and carefully curated wine list, a strong cocktail menu, and a fairly exceptional coffee program for a restaurant. All of their syrups and chocolate sauces are made in-house by the pastry team.

The special 20th anniversary menu includes additional pairings of wine as well as beer, depending on the dish. The first course is a choice between Salade Folle which comes with Belgian endive, beautifully fresh watercress, pear, and shaved blue cheese with a pecan dressing, and a slice of toasted fig bread, or Thon Grillé Libanais with parsley & mint tabbouleh, cumin, and smoked aubergine. I tried the salad and was pleased by the rich combination of flavours in a dish that was so light and refreshing.

Chambar Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Throwback Menu

Mussels, Chops, and a Beloved Chambar Dessert

The main course is either Waterzooi Tunisien Aux Fruits de Mer or Côte de Porc à La Kriek. The first, a Bouillabaisse of prawns, mussels, lingcod, and calamari is a stepped up rendition of Chambar’s classic Moules Frites. The tomato and saffron dish is flavoured with charred orange and served with a side of black rice, a visually stunning addition. The Côte de Porc comes with a substantial chargrilled pork chop served with stoemp potatoes, which is a Belgian dish that is somewhere between mashed potatoes and potatoes dauphinoise except with the addition of carrots. The sauce is a sweet and tangy cherry compote that cuts the richness of the potatoes. For dessert, guests can choose between a Parfait au Chocolat Blanc, a mousse served with raspberry and white chocolate ice cream with a sugar tuile, or the dessert that I chose. Chambar is famous for a few dishes, the mussels have already been mentioned, but another beloved favourite are the Liège waffles. These feature on Chambar’s brunch menu. Their anniversary menu also ends with a rendition. The Gaufre Dame Blanche consists of a Liège waffle topped with creamy vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a rich, warm chocolate sauce.

Chambar Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Throwback Menu

Chambar: A Legacy

It is impressive for a restaurant to reach a twenty year anniversary. It is quite a span of time to have been in the industry and I was interested to chat with Karri about the changes she’d noticed in the culinary scene over the last two decades. While the components of the dishes on their anniversary menu weren’t drastically changed from their originals, the plating styles have changed over the years. Another change is the presence of phones at tables. And the irony of discussing this change while seated at a media dinner with nearly everyone photographing their food, with some even whipping out lights to brighten the shot, was not lost on me. While we might lament some of these changes in the dining room, one of Karri’s great joys in reflecting on the last twenty years is the place Chambar has in people’s lives in Vancouver. Weddings and anniversaries are celebrated here, and guests have photos taken year after year in the very same booth.

Chambar has also served as a training ground for many of Vancouver’s top chefs. Indeed there are too many alumni of Chambar to list but to highlight just a few: Tannis Ling (Kissa Tanto, Bao Bei, Meo), Roger Collins (Calabash), Patrick Hennessey (Barbara), Slavita Johnson and Eleanor Chow (Cadeaux), Paul Grunberg (Savio Volpe, Pepino’s, Banda Volpe), Josh Pape (Bufala, Bells & Whistles, Lucky Taco), and Frankie Harrington (Meat & Bread). Karri said it is a pleasure to host visitors to Vancouver because it gives her Chambar team a chance to recommend establishments started by those who have passed through Chambar’s kitchen. As part of the 20th anniversary celebration, Chambar will welcome some of these renowned alumni as guest chefs. More details coming soon.

About Bronwyn Lewis 60 Articles
Bronwyn Lewis is a food writer for the Vancouver Guardian. She’s also a screenwriter and producer. Born and raised in Vancouver, Bronwyn lives in Mount Pleasant and you can follow all her food adventures on Instagram.