I got her number! How do you like them apples? Orchard & The Sea Cider Bar in Gastown

It’s finally happened — Vancouver now has a dedicated craft cider bar. Orchard & The Sea opened on July 14 (a week ago as I write this), and operates out of The Birds & The Beets space in Gastown on Thursday and Friday nights from 6pm-11pm, and Saturday night from 5pm-11pm (sort of like a pop-up restaurant). I’m fairly new to the whole cider thing, but already know that I don’t like the syrupy sweet mass-market ciders out there. Maybe I’ll find something more to my taste here?

DSCF5651

The Birds & The Beets usually closes at night, but when Orchard & The Sea are operating, they switch over to serving cider and also offer small plates (tapas) prepared by Chef Jefferson Alvarez. This was my first time having Chef Alvarez’s food, so I was a little excited.

DSCF5648

The team behind Orchard & The Sea also run Txotx Basque Imports (pronounced “choh-ch”), a cider-importing agency. They were able to bring in a huge variety of BC ciders, some of which have never been available in Vancouver before.

DSCF5634

My cider partner Grub is Love (@meg_eats) is a HUGE fan of cider. Perfect.

DSCF5637

The menu changes weekly. Mostly small plates/tapas, with one big protein — the 1LB Txuleton ribeye for $35. A bit too spendy for me, so I stuck with some small plates.

DSCF5640

Side one of the cider menu. Glad to see a couple draft options, in both 8oz and 12oz sizes! I do like Sunday Cider a lot, and drink it sometimes at Bestie in Chinatown. I’ve had the Shacksbury once before and was a big fan because of the eye-opening complexity and funkiness that I’d previously associated more with farmhouse ales.

DSCF5642

Side two of the cider menu. They even have a cider from Basque Country and France. I do appreciate the range of prices, from accessible to “special occasion”.

DSCF5654

The chalkboard with the draft cider choices.

DSCF5656

Condensed food menu. NOTE: everything is counter service here. They will remove empty plates and cups, but you order at the bar and grab extra cutlery and napkins from the bar as well.

DSCF5658

Their bottle selections on display.

DSCF5659

Never seen these before!

DSCF5660

Scenic Road Cider is a new cidery out of Kelowna that just opened on June 4! Already doing great work.

DSCF5665

I ordered my food and got this CUTE apple thingy. Cue the obligatory apple-themed movie quote:

How do you like them apples???!

DSCF5667

We started off with the two draft ciders:

DSCF5664

Shacksbury – The Basque (6.2%) in front, Sunday Cider – First Press (6%) in back. I really like both of these. The fact that they’re semi-easily attainable makes me really happy. The Sunday Cider is off-dry and has this great fresh quality to it too. Quite light and approachable but with a bit of complexity to keep things interesting. Not sure if what I’ve had before was this same “First Press”, but every time I’ve had it it’s been enjoyable. The Shacksbury is more funky and complex. You can really smell and taste the difference between the apples used in either cider. Visually, they couldn’t be more different. So fun to explore this new world of aromas and flavours!

DSCF5671

Manchego Cheese with Quince Paste and Honey Mustard ($8). Good. Standard stuff. Nothing more than it needs to be.

DSCF5675

I don’t know where they got the bread from, but it was pretty amazing stuff. Thin, crispy crust and moist, stretchy crumb that had no faults.

DSCF5679

Duck Liver Pâté with Fig & Mustard Jam ($8). Pretty close to foie, as far as I’m concerned 🙂 Served with what appears to be toasted brioche. Meg had never tried foie before, but she seemed to enjoy this. Cider is a great match and palate cleanser for this.

DSCF5683

Seafood & Chorizo in Basques Sauce with Onion, Saffron, Peppers, and Cider Reduction ($8). Well-cooked small plate of squid, octopus, and mussels with slices of chorizo. Purity of the ingredients shine through.

DSCF5689

Baked Gluten-Free Chicken Drums with Smoked Paprika Sauce ($8). One dud of the night. Impressive crunchy gluten-free (whatevs) coating, but the meat was dry:

DSCF5691

They don’t have a full kitchen here, so that’s why it’s baked and not fried. Fried will always be better than baked, but they still got an impressive crunchy coating. Shame about the dry meat.

DSCF5702

Time for another cider!

DSCF5710

BX Press Crackwhip (7.3%). This one’s a hopped cider! It’s the beer and cider worlds colliding. Really enjoyed this one. To me, the hops gave a floral, herby quality to the dry-ish cider. Must-try for beer geeks.

DSCF5714

I guess “hops” in French is “houblon”, so Houblon Chouffe finally makes sense.

DSCF5712

Label porn, if you’re interested.

DSCF5713

BX Press Cidery is just a couple years old.

DSCF5716

This one was comped by the kind people at Orchard & The Sea: Scenic Road Cider – Dry (7%). Really full-flavoured and a touch sweet but not overly so for a “dry”.

DSCF5720

More label porn.

DSCF5724

I wonder if freshness matters for cider as it does for hoppy IPAs…

DSCF5725

A comped bottle shared amongst many people: Merridale Scrumpy (11%!!). Impressively bone-dry in comparison to everything else I had earlier. You could get SO shitfaced from this because it tastes deliciously innocuous. You’ve been warned.

Side note: I was at the Merridale Cider tap takeover at St. Augustine’s earlier in the week, and I found most of what I tried to be too sweet for me — even the “dry” styles. This Scrumpy was comparatively bone-dry and delicious.

DSCF5726

Table neighbours gave us a taste of this Isastegi Sidra (6%). By this point of the night, I was pretty wobbly but happy. This one smelt and tasted very different from what I had before, so therefore well worth your time and money. I swear cider has its own “terroir”, and it’s great to be able to experience a big slice of it here.

The Orchard & the Sea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Leave a Reply