Rural goes urban at Restaurant 62

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Executive chef Jeff Massey shops farm-direct to craft his seasonal menus at Abbotsford eatery

Shannon Kwantes

Alicia Bodaly and executive chef Jeff Massey show off Restaurant 62’s pan-seared Gelderman Farms pork chop, which is served with cippolini onion and garlic scape jus, roasted apricots, braised baby spinach, asparagus and mashed potatoes. Massey is a co-owner of the Abbotsford restaurant. Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, Vancouver Sun, Special To The Sun

At a Glance

Restaurant 62

2001 McCallum Rd.

Hours: Weekdays: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5 p.m.-9 p.m.;
Saturday: 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

As we drove to Restaurant 62 in Abbotsford it was clear from the raspberry fields around us, as well as the signs advertising organic chicken, that this community is full of fresh, local foods. You name it, you can get it from a farm in Abbotsford.

Restaurant 62, which is located in a growing area in central Abbotsford, is one of several stops on a farm circle tour that features everything from an eco-dairy to a berry festival. On the day of our visit, coincidentally, one of the local newspapers featured a story about how Restaurant 62 executive chef Jeff Massey loves to cook using fresh produce from local farms.

At the restaurant, a server guided us down a narrow corridor past an open kitchen, with a chef hard at work. The chef looked up and warmly greeted us — a nice touch. The aromas were savoury, and I noticed a wonderful-looking entree with a cut of meat on it an inch-and-a-quarter thick (I discovered later it was one of their signature pork dishes), as well as fresh loaves of bread sitting on a large wooden cutting board. I wasn’t even at my table yet, and already getting excited about what might be next.

The layout of the restaurant wasn’t as open as I had expected, but our comfortable booth afforded us privacy from other guests. The wine list was extensive, and included one bottle that was $1,000. The dinner menu doesn’t have much for vegetarians, but some items can be found on the lunch menu.

Hummus and bread were served before dinner, but I would have preferred it if they had left the hummus to Greek restaurants and offered something else with the bread.

We had an appetizer for two ($20) that featured baked brie in phyllo with black olive tapenade, braised duck, and grilled lamb chop.

For my entree, I chose the special: Grilled Gelderman Farms double-thick pork chop with shrimp ($29). This dish appealed to me because one doesn’t often see thick-cut pork on a menu. I loved the pairing with the Oceanwise organic shrimp, shipped fresh. The side dish of creamy potatoes, aged white cheddar and chives was delightful comfort food. The meal also came with thick-cut carrots and asparagus.

My husband ordered the prix fixe menu for $24. The Caesar salad was excellent and the potato, chives and bacon soup was creamy and delicious. It was a bowl of warmth, a definite highlight. His entree selection was the Canadian strip-loin steak with balsamic glaze.

One of our friends had the seared Maple Hill Farms chicken supreme with bacon, shallot and sweet pea cream ($25). The chicken was tender and the sauce tasty.

The fourth person in our party had the mahi mahi prix fixe, also $24. This dish had a smooth and delicate but understated flavour. It could have been cooked a touch more. Pasta with olives gave the dish a real Mediterranean feel, a nice combination with the fish.

The prix fixe desserts were a tasty creme brulee and chocolate mousse with local berries.

Massey, co-owner of the restaurant, moved from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley in search of a country life and to be closer to where food is produced. He joined Restaurant 62 in 2006.

“Good food is hard work,” Massey told me in a subsequent phone interview. “We strive for the best regional and seasonal menu in the Fraser Valley.”

The menu changes constantly, depending on what’s in season. Massey gets most of his ingredients from local farmers, some of whom even drop by the restaurant with their harvests (such as the Lillooet farmer selling morel mushrooms).

There are some selections that run contrary to the emphasis on local food, such as New Zealand lamb and the mahi. Massey explains that lamb is difficult to get consistently, and the mahi has been a favourite that guests keep requesting.

Most tables featured abstract art on the wall, and I did get a downtown Vancouver feel, but some of the food tasted French country.

Restaurant 62 is a great spot for small celebrations and special occasions. Look for Massey online, as he plans in the future to host a new cooking show on YouTube.

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