A new restaurant recently sailed into Abbotsford, anchored down in the business district, and has been making waves ever since.
Specializing in seafood, Bow and Stern harbours a sense of character unlike the many generic chain restaurants punctuating the city’s main streets. It’s tucked away in Historic Downtown Abbotsford and takes guests on a journey from the moment they walk through the door.
Originally from Richmond, Jackie Smith and her husband moved to the Okanagan where they opened a few successful seafood restaurants over the years. They are familiar with what it takes to capture the authentic taste of the ocean, and each brings a decade of experience to the table.
Smith says that after being in the business for 30 years, fish and chips is at the core of what they know and something they feel confident about.
“We came here on a Saturday and the farmers market was going, it was a really good vibe in the middle of summer,” says Smith on the choice to relocate to Abbotsford. “I looked at the vacant space where the restaurant would be and said ‘we can take the heritage aspects and make it more trendy.”
Upon entering Bow and Stern, it’s nearly impossible not to take a walk around before sitting down. Photos of boats line the walls and distressed pieces reminiscent of treasures retrieved from the bottom of the sea surround the room.
Rustic wood tables and chairs sit atop stone flooring; large barrels lean against the walls and sunlight streams through the front windows across the oversized chalkboard listing the daily features.
Further to the back, black and white walls and clean lines compliment the chandeliers, and suddenly it feels like you’ve entered the dining room of a large cruise ship.
The streets of Abbotsford already feel far behind.
“The response from the people has been amazing, we knew we could do something to this place, and it just took off,” says Smith. “Usually, people either do an oyster bar or fish and chips and we said, let’s do both! We went through 600 oysters just this past weekend, we get 50-pound halibut filets and we are going through one a day on the weekends, and when we added a lobster mac and cheese…we sold out of the lobster!”
Smith says that her and her husband had no idea the community would be so receptive to the seafood.
“They are thanking us on the way out the door,” she laughs.
Not only do their seafood options sell well, but their honey thyme chicken is a popular choice, as are their deep-fried brussel sprouts.
The menu includes small-plates, soups, salads, mains and burgers with a mix of traditional favorites and unique items for each category. Candied carrots and deep fried pickles, a Fried Oyster Poboy, hot and cold seafood platters at market price, a Dungeness Crab Salad and plenty of other big city choices are offered at small-town prices.
For first time visitors, Smith recommends the halibut and chips.
“We have people come back two or three times a week for the fish and chips,” she says. “We make our own chips fresh every day.”
Happy Hour runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and offers Buck a Shuck oysters and burger, fries and beer combos for $15.
Behind the bar, there is an extensive range of locally bottled craft beer and local draught beer, including taster-flights for $8. Sasquatch Stout from Chilliwack, Fat Tug from Victoria, Wunderbar Kolsch from North Vancouver and Bay Ale from Squamish are the home-grown choices on tap.
Finding exciting seafood and craft beer options no longer requires compromising quality or driving to Vancouver or Seattle. When Bow and Stern set sail they were looking for a land of opportunity and found it in Abbotsford.
Sink into a seat, enjoy a drink, and let a wave of delicious seafood wash over your taste buds. All you have to do is walk into the little city’s favorite new hangout to sail away.
Bow and Stern
Address: 2551 Montrose Avenue, Abbotsford
Phone: 604-776-FISH (3474)
Hours: Monday to Thursday and Sunday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.