The second location of the Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Ancora is now open at 1351 Bellevue Avenue in West Vancouver’s Ambleside neighbourhood (The original Ancora is located in the old “C” address on False Creek).
The attractive 104 seater launched softly on the waterfront last night, just a few hours after I took these photos. (Chef Ricardo Valverde and GM/Sommelier Steve Edwards were both setting up for service, so it was a quick in and out.) If this is the first you’re reading about the project, here are the basics on the spot, as copied from their original press release distributed back in early September, 2018:
Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio will bring its signature brand of Peruvian-meets-Japanese ‘Nikkei’ cuisine to Vancouver’s North Shore later this fall when the award-winning restaurant opens a second location at 1351 Bellevue Avenue in West Vancouver’s Ambleside.
Overlooking the waterfront in the high-profile Grosvenor Ambleside development with panoramic views of notable Vancouver landmarks like the Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park and Vancouver’s West Side, Ancora’s new location will feature seating for 104 in its expansive dining room and bar and 38 on its patio.
The opening of Ancora’s newest outpost coincides with the third anniversary of its original location, which launched on the False Creek Seawall in Vancouver in 2015 and was lauded as one of Vancouver’s ’10 Best New Restaurants’ by The Globe and Mail and also made enRoute Magazine’s 2016 shortlist of Canada’s Best New Restaurants.
Ancora’s new seaside destination will be led by a team of industry veterans that includes General Manager and Sommelier Steve Edwards (Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Whistler’s Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar, Bearfoot Bistro) anchoring the front of house and Executive Chef Ricardo Valverde overseeing kitchen operations at both locations.
The restaurant will offer guests a taste of the popular Nikkei style of cuisine, which showcases Japanese- and Peruvian-inspired flavours prepared with the very best local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients from the Pacific Northwest. The space will also offer a crudo bar featuring fresh ceviches, causas and sushi, and a beverage program comprising an extensive wine and sake list and signature and classic cocktails with a focus on South American spirits.
“From day one, Chef Valverde’s Peruvian roots have added an authentic South American flavour to Ancora’s Nikkei-influenced menu,” says Edwards. “We’re extremely excited to be able to introduce his unique take on West Coast cuisine to a new neighbourhood this fall.”
The menu is the same as the always intriguing original, featuring an expansive raw bar loaded with ceviche, oysters, sushi, crudo, nigiri and sashimi options alongside plenty of caviar, seafood towers and a mix of starters and mains that deftly and deliciously navigate and unite the culinary traditions of Japan and Peru. Anticipating deliciousness goes without saying.
Frankly, the new restaurant is a bit of a gift to Ambleside and West Van in general, and not just because of its sea breeze patio or the happy fact that it reunites the legendary serving duo of twin brothers Michael and David Stanger (who I had the pleasure of working alongside back in the Early Stone Age). Despite a dizzying array of restaurant options on this side of the bridge, none of them are really in Ancora’s league. Fraiche, La Régalade, and The Beachside Cafe may have been comparable in terms of capability, but they’re all long gone now, the area having – for the most part – surrendered its culinary lot to the big chains.
Ancora will thus need to prove to its guests that there is a palpable, palate-proven gulf dividing it from their middling, cookie-cutter competitors and to deliver on justified high expectations — no small feat considering West Vancouver’s clientele, which I vividly remember being about as relaxed and forgiving as a bunch of over-privileged honey badgers in a champagne bar fight. But it’s a game Ancora already knows how to play, having previously excelled on a tony piece of Vancouver waterfront.
I’d wish them luck if I thought they needed it.