Deep in Richmond’s industrial heartland, there is a magical place. As the locals will tell you, it is filled with duck fat tater tots, pulled pork poutine, lamb burgers, giant cookies, and many other wonders. These things may seem out of place amongst the loading bays and squat, beige buildings of Viking Way, but the tots and other goodies have made themselves at home, and you really ought to visit them.
This place I speak of is 2 Chefs and a Table, a restaurant that opened a year and a half ago in a northeast industrial park, with another location and butcher shop already established in Vancouver. 2 Chefs’ Richmond location is rather obscure, and unless you work in the area, there’s very little chance you’d end up casually strolling by it and stopping for lunch.
It’s a destination, not a happen-upon, and one that’s certainly worth seeking out. With a café up front and restaurant in the back, 2 Chefs serves up creative and well-executed comfort food; over the past few years they’ve become famous in Vancouver for their chicken and waffles, a Southern-American staple that’s finally taken off here in the Great White North (and yes, PBS does offer an informative “History of Chicken and Waffles” here.)
The restaurant’s décor is casual but stylish, and we were quite pleased to cozy into one of their red booths.
Some of 2 Chefs’ dishes are comfort food at its most aggressive (think Pulled Pork Mac n’ Cheese), but there are also plenty of lighter options (Spring Salad with grilled chicken) and serious vegetarian entrees (Veggie Works Burger) should you prefer something less nap-inducing.
For those who know and love Big Lou’s as much as I do, they have several of their butcher shop sandwiches on the menu, but of course I wanted something new, so I ordered the Lamb Burger ($11.75). My friends Stacey and Roberta joined me for lunch, and tried the Chicken and Waffles ($13.5) and Southwest Chicken Salad ($11.5), respectively. Oh yes, and we ordered the Pulled Pork Poutine ($9.5) to start. Because, well, obviously.
It was a big ol’ plate of crispy fries covered in pulled pork, shredded applewood cheddar, and gravy. This is certainly not your typical poutine, nor does it look like it. The pulled pork was excellent – tender but not too saucy – with gravy that was creamy and peppery. I must admit, I will always prefer cheese curds on my poutine over cheddar, but as a whole, this dish was one mean hangover cure if I ever saw one.
My lamb burger was stellar, and here’s why: most of the time, when a menu promises ‘pesto and feta cheese’ on a burger, what you get is a weak spread of green and a pitifully small crumble of cheese.
At 2 Chefs, however, they use two thick slices of salty feta and a huge scoop of rich, house-made pesto. Miraculously, you can actually taste them with each bite. Even more importantly, they topped one of the juiciest, most flavourful burgers I’ve ever had. THESE PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO MAKE A PATTY.
The bun was just right and the salad was simple – quality greens mixed with a slightly sweet dressing. I have nothing but praise for this meal, and cannot wait to try their Butcher Burger made with Pemberton Meadows grass-fed beef and Sloping Hills Pork.
Stacey’s Chicken and Waffles was also well-loved. The waffle was topped with plenty of maple syrup, candied pecans, vanilla butter, and two pieces of battered and fried Fraser Valley chicken. I must admit, my favourite part was the last few bites, which Stacey handed off to me since she was so full. Only a few pecans and the waffle were left, soaked completely in syrup and butter. Stupid, it was STUPID good.
Roberta ordered a lighter meal – the Southwest Chicken Salad with black beans, shredded cheddar, tomatoes, onions, and honey-lime dressing – but still with the crunchy goodness of buttermilk fried chicken. She said it was very tasty and dressed just right.
After all that food, it’s understandable that I didn’t have room for one of their giant cookies, but they ARE available in the front café for just a $1.99.
From 11am onwards, they also serve other baking, breakfast wraps, sandwiches (with cage-free eggs), and bagels to dine in or takeaway.
The term ‘hidden gem’ was invented for places like 2 Chefs and a Table. If you want to be the office hero, suggest a workday lunch there with your colleagues, but be sure to make a reservation.
If you don’t have time to dine in, order the roast beef sandwich with pan mayo, one of my all-time favourites in the vast wide world of sammies. Also, with enough demand, they might start serving brunch on weekends! Think of the syrupy waffle possibilities…….
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available