The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant
By Michelle Hopkins

An Iconic Granville Island Location

Granville Island was once an island; actually, truth be told, it was a sandbar. So it seems appropriate that one of the city’s most popular eateries pays homage to Granville Island’s geographic past. Nestled under the Granville Street Bridge, The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant celebrates its industrial and fishing roots with an interior that is designed for warmth and casual elegance.

Part of the Sequoia Company of Restaurants, The Sandbar seats 350 guests across three levels in what was once a manufacturing building. The ground floor is home to an intimate sushi bar. Upstairs, the main dining room features nautical decor accents that offer a nod to West Coast style. “Suspended above the main bar is Kivi, a 24-foot salmon troller hand built by Allan Farrell, (one of the West Coast’s finest craftsman of wooden boats),” explains general manager John Hawkins. The second floor is also home to a private dining room (adjacent to a wine cellar that boasts a collection of more than 1000+ bottles), and a low-lit lounge. At night, the Teredo Lounge transforms into a trendy piano bar with an intimate vibe and live music. The third-floor heated patio, open year-round, is perhaps the most sought-after space in the restaurant. “At night under the stars, you can capture the most stunning cityscapes on the patio,” adds Hawkins.

We keep it as simple as possible so that we showcase the true flavour of the dish. - Cooper Green, chef
Executive chef Cooper Green focuses on fresh, local and sustainable seafood dishes.
Executive chef Cooper Green focuses on fresh, local and sustainable seafood dishes. [Photo courtesy of The Sandbar]

A Focus on Fresh Seafood

Considered one of Vancouver's finest seafood eateries, The Sandbar's award-winning kitchen is led by executive chef Cooper Green, who follows in the footsteps of former executive chef Jason Kleinfeld (now at the helm of Cardero’s Restaurant).

Like many chefs before him, Cooper began his culinary career at home, spending hours cooking in the kitchen, learning from his mother and grandmother. He went on study at the Pacific Culinary School where earned his Red Seal. For a decade or so, he worked in several local establishments before heading off to Thailand and Australia to hone his skills and expand his culinary horizons. In 2013, he took over the kitchen at The Sandbar where he delivers a diverse menu anchored by fresh, local and sustainable seafood.

"The menu here offers rustic and hardy food, with a strong focus on seafood," Cooper explains. The experienced chef has developed a keen insight into what individuals are looking for when they go out to dine. As such, the menu expresses healthiness, fine ingredients and simplicity. "We keep it as simple as possible so that we showcase the true flavour of the dish...most fish is seasoned with only lemon butter," Cooper says. “And where some places may use potato in their crab cakes, The Sandbar uses only fresh Dungeness crab with a few herbs.”

A 24-foot salmon troller hand built by Vancouver craftsman Allan Farrell hangs in the restaurant's nautical inspired interior.
A 24-foot salmon troller built by Vancouver craftsman Allan Farrell hangs in the restaurant's nautical inspired dining room. Photo courtesy of The Sandbar

Simplicity Rules

Although Chef Cooper likes to change the The Sandbar's menu seasonally, there are certain standbys that he doesn't dare pull out of rotation, including the marinated sablefish. The beloved dish features black cod (grilled in one of the city's only wood burning grills) alongside wok-fried squid. “It is flash fried and then thrown in the wok so that it is moist on the inside and crispy on the outside,” Cooper notes. In addition to the crowd-pleasing favourites, the restaurant's daily fresh sheet is always a draw. Presented on a wooden board, the ever-changing carte du jour features a selection of fresh fish brought in that day.

From sushi to seafood platters to surf-and-turf, The Sandbar's menu will appeal to seafood fans and meat eaters alike, and also offers a number of vegetarian and gluten-free options to accommodate patrons' dietary requests. Fusing a hard-to-beat location, a well curated wine and cocktail selection, and an upscale-casual atmosphere devoid of any pretension, its not surprising that The Sandbar attracts locals and visitors night after night with its award-winning cuisine.

The Sandbar is nestled is a picturesque location under the Granville Street Bridge.
The Sandbar is nestled is a picturesque location under the Granville Street Bridge. Photo courtesy of The Sandbar
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