Disclosure: This was a complimentary tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation.
Outside Greater Vancouver, we enter the Fraser Valley, but some of us might be wondering if there are great restaurants not affiliated with national chains. Take Restaurant 62, located just off of Highway 1. Chefs Matthew Nichols and Jeff Massey keep things local and rotate items into the menu as the seasons change. Do the farm-to-table items make this restaurant worth a trip or should you stick to the big city guns? Read on to find out.
Team Tastic came here for a Saturday dinner and I had a great taste of the following:
- Chickpea Spread ($3)
- Honey Glazed Pork Cheeks ($13)
- Seared Scallops (~$16)
- 72HR Braised Short Rib ($32)
- Popkum Rabbit ($29)
- London Fog Dessert ($9)
The Chickpea Spread, made in-house, was served with local Vancouver bread from A Bread Affair. The bread smelled fresh and there was a generous amount of chickpea spread for each slice of toast.
The Honey Glazed Pork Cheek was served with beet sauerkraut, garlic scape soubise, and an apple & peach mostarda. Meticulous arrangement of the vegetables and soubise made for a pleasant presentation. The pork cheeks themselves were perfectly tender and no knife was needed to cleave through them.
The Seared Scallops were one of the night’s best features. Normally not on the main menu. This feature included house-smoked bacon, sweet mustard seeds, and a butternut squash pureé. Similar to the pork cheek, presentation was again stunning with meticulous arrangement of the pureé and vegetables. The scallops were extra plump with a crispy top, just they way they ought to be, and were further complimented by the bacon and smooth puree.
Moving onto the 72HR Braised Short Rib, this 72 hour effort, house-braised entree came with pearl onions, blue cheese butter, and polenta. The short ribs came looking hefty and oozing with blue cheese butter which was flowing down the sides. The polenta were cute too, firm and packed like a good tofu. This dish was big on flavour with a winey reduction and blue cheese element instantly taking over my palate. I think it’s best to enjoy this dish with an equally bold red wine. Though I did not order one, wine would have enhanced the bold taste and make it easier to taste other things on the table.
Our other entree was the Popkum Rabbit which was served with hazelnut puree, mushroom, farro, and pumpkin seeds. Sourced from Popkum (just east of Chilliwack), this dish was the most stunning entree out of the two we had. The mixed texture from the juicy mushrooms, crunchy farro, and smooth puree meant every bite was a complex, almost exhilarating experience. Nothing better could have been done, and the presentation was, as with the other plates, on point. For those unfamiliar with eating rabbit, its taste is similar to chicken, and in my opinion, the unnoficial child of a chicken mixed with fish.
Finally for dessert, we had the London Fog. London Fogs are primarily earl grey tea lattes (invented in Vancouver!) but this dessert was an earl grey mousse with lemon sponge, vanilla froth, bergamot scented tuile. The exterior may have looked a little simple, but the lemon sponge within had a fine balance of cakeyness and citrus zing. The bergamot-scented tuile capped off what was a tasty dessert and a steal at $9 given its creativity, shareability, and novelty.
Overall, my favourite dishes tonight were the scallops, rabbit, and our dessert, the London Fog. Prices here are a little lower than what I’d expect in Vancouver, and that’s a great thing when you’re heading out for a mini road trip or find yourself in Abbotsford.
Restaurant 62 is a dimly lit, intimate eatery located along McCallum Road. Entering first past the semi-open kitchen, the restaurant has two dining rooms, and I ate my meal in the main public room. There’s seating for probably 30 guests in the main room, and furthermore in the separate dining room. The feel was quite cozy as the large booths helped make the table feel more concave.
The washrooms get particular mention here. Each gender has a single-stall room and for hand-drying, the restaurant provides individual hand towels. This is the stuff you see in hotel rooms! Now that’s a swanky restaurant amenity.
On this visit, service was divine. Our server was the most polite person, expertly excusing himself between our conversations to share a new dish from the restaurant or to refill a soda. Despite this being a tasting, I confirmed the same professional service with the tables adjacent to us.
Food took no longer than 15 minutes between courses, and everything arrived simultaneously. Drink top-ups were near-instant, and despite the restaurant picking up in speed at 7pm, I noticed co-owner/chef Jeff Massey also stepping onto the floor to provide some help. This level of commitment and trust in the kitchen is what you want to see at this level of dining.
One-liner: High quality farm-to-table creations with a lower price tag than that seen in Greater Vancouver and exceptional service
Highlight: Popkum Rabbit
Price per person (sans tip): $35-$50
Would I go back? Yes.