A Vancouver landmark named after the city's first lifeguard in the 1890's. Joe Fortes is a multi-level, San Francisco-styled place with an oyster bar, rooftop garden patio and ample restaurant seating.
This USED to be my fave restaurant in Vancouver. The first time I had their warm seafood salad with fennel, I was absolutely blown away! I have been here mabye twice a year over the last 5 years, but we don't go back now...
When we first started going (my rep takes me on his expense account), we had truly delish meals. He always took me for my bday & Xmas. This is the first year, I changed restaurants...
The last time we went, lunch turned into 3 hours! They did bring an amuse bouche, but seriously, we all had to get back to work. My friend ordered the "fish duo" special they have at lunch, and I swear, it WAS an amuse bouche, not an entree - 2 bites and he was finished!!!!
Yes, the oysters are great. Their house wine is great! The ambience is great! However, service is slow, food is way overpriced & crap now!
I'm disappointed to write this about Joe's, but there are far better restaurants in Vancouver with better value. I don't even pay, but I felt bad for my friend's expense account. If you have a $200 lunch & leave unsatisfied, and late to get back to work...go elsewhere...we do now!
I decided on going to Joe Fortes for my birthday because of my all tie favourite food: Fresh Oysters. I heard a lot of things about this place and so, I decided to go shopping along Robson and then dinner. The servers all look very professional dressed in white, the oysters were as fresh as can be, and they have such an admirable selection of where their oysters are from. After ordering a dozen oysters for appetizer, We decided to go with the 3 tier tower, which consists of fresh cold seafood, muscles, clams, lobster, oysters, tuna sashimi. It was excellent, very very good, in fact so good that I had to return the following week to try other menu items. The server recognized my family and me, and gave us a comlementary dish promplty after being seated. So this time I just had to get the oysters for appetizer again, which were still exceptional. however, my mother had ordered a cooked pot, which consisted of food that was starting to go bad (thus my 4/5 rating for food). I had the sesame crusted Ahi Tuna, which were cooked perfectly, very very good. Both times, I ordered wine and I have to say that I am very impressed with the wide selction that Joe Fortes has to offer. in addition, the live music just completed both my experience at Joe Fortes. Next time I visit I must sit out on th patio since I have heard and read so much about it!
We went to Joe Fortes for Dine Out Vancouver. I ordered the oyster sampler and my boyfriend ordered the chowder. Both were fairly good. We were very disappointed with the entrees however. I had the salmon and although the portion was generous the fish was very overcooked. It was dry and tough, so much so that I actually sent it back. The waitress came back with a new piece of fish that was apparently cooked to medium but was just as bad. The short ribs, which my boyfriend had, were ok; but we've had better. Dessert was decent and the waitress did try to make up for me having to send my entree back by allowing me to order any dessert I wanted.
I think the biggest disappointment about Joe Fortes is that it touts itself as a seafood and chop house and as such I assumed that the chef would not make a rookie mistake like over cooking the fish.
I would say this place has average food (above average for seafood) and below average service. somewhat overated. We went for brunch and our waiter was really aggressive and acted like a salesman from the futureshop.
Joe Fortes serves up wonderful ambience and incredible food. In short, it makes for a first-rate dining experience. The seafood tower was nothing short of perfection, especially for those who love shellfish. My New York steak was nicely done. As for ambience, there aren't many rooms in Vancouver that are cozier than Fortes...
Only downsides: Our waiter was a bit on the passive-aggressive side; he basically snarled at me when I turned down dessert. Also, the kitchen inexplicably ran out of prime rib, and this was at the early hour of 6:30pm.
Despite these blips, I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Joe Fortes!
I'm a little late writing this review because I came here 3 weeks ago. I just didn't think I should because....well I committed a food felony and I was a bit ashamed.
I was one of those people who went to a seafood restaurant and ordered the hamburger! I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy. I know, I know... who does that? But I got reasons....honest.
It was late and given that uh-hum uh-hum I'm not in my twenties or whatever anymore there was no way I could handle a steak at 10:00. Real reason: I was with a fine fit thin young lady and I needed to get us going.
But I could handle a pitcher of delicious beer, along with a really great mushroom side OMG WTF i died and went to heaven.
YES it was that good its still on my mind. SO, I caved in to guilt about not sharing and shouted myself out!
For people that dont think that they can afford to dine at Joe Fortes.... come between 4 and 6 for Happy Hour! SERIOUSLY! Great food and it is so reasonable! Tempura Prawns were FANTASTIC! Oysters Rockefeller were TO DIE FOR! Tons of appies for half price. Gorgeous place to end the work day. Cant say enought about it. Service was stellar! Keep it up JF!
My wife and I were Christmas shopping and decided to call ina na graban appettizer at Joe Fortes, we had been before so thought we knew what to expect.
First off we wee greeted by our server who in a really patronizing tone explained the concept of oil and vinegar.....thank-you for the education??? Then we were approached by a seperate server who took our drink orders......15 minutes later a third server approached us and asked us for our drink order....you can probably see where this is going, finally a forht server aproached us and asked us for our order which we provided with quizical looks on both of our faces.
They then proceeded to forget our food order......for thirty minutes. To top it all we ordered the King Crab tempura, we thought it would be a nice litle bite for two over a glass of wine, cost $18.75. When it arrived it was just slightly larger than a Amuse, literally three tiny little pieces of tempured crab leg.......rediculous.
Will never be back.....have had the leasure of eating all over the world, River Cafe, Ivy, Michael Minna, Gary Danko, French Laundry and I have never seen such terrible service and such blatant gauging.
All i've had here was a half-litre of wine and a small seafood platter (work lun h); however, I LOVED the atmosphere and the menu and waitress looked delicious. I plan to go back when I'm not watching my carbs/fatty meats and having a proper go at the food. Incidentally, the seafood platter had a lovely variety of items that went from smooth and creamy, to dry and crumbly, to fabulously stinky. They have my vote on the seafood dishes. Pretty blondes too.
I have to admit.... I heard about the waitresses at Joe Fortes but never went until now. All I have to say is WOW. Several levels.... great decor, as soon as you walk in you feel welcomed, the young blondie hostess and the waitresses are always friendly even tho they are always busy. We were seated, and was greeted by a gorgeous lady. Told us the specials, always smiling. We ordered the scallops.... OMG totally amazing!!! We didnt have dessert, way too full to even look at the menu. Anyways.... overall Experience, Perfect, This is what I wish all restaurants can learn from and experience. Where do they find these tall blondies?
We went to Joe Fortes because we needed a relaxing pub style restaurant and they advertised seafood and drinks. The outside looked nice enough and the hostess wasn't half bad looking. But here is the real deal: what girls in mini skirts? None of the waitresses were dressed in an attractive fashion. Maybe waiting for the summer? The patio was closed of course (and no heaters). The oysters were fine but expensive. The decor was well appointed. Wine's mark up was outrageous. White wine is how much? I mean they dont even have good looking ladies working there. OK, to be fair some were good looking but they werent flaunting.
Anyway this evening the oysters and wine came to $80 for two. Next time me and my bud will just walk down to earls or cactus Club or just a get a drink at a pub nearer to work after work. However for fans of oysters you can count on the correct oysters available here and they would be fresh.
Forte offers steaks and sea food, including salads, hot food including ribs, and an assortment of salads. The restaurant apparently caters more to the local crowd than visitors. It suited us just fine. The selection is fairly broad. The atmosphere is upscale casual and the young lusty blondes in short skirts make me tip a good 20% easy each time. I agree that a bunch of jock sockets visit here but who cares? they can't tip as much as I do so I get all the attention and I can put together a sentence. This restaurant is truly excellent.
I heard lots about the restaurant as it has been around for along time with a respectable reputation. We tried to go to Coast but it was way too busy and thought to check out Joe Fortes. My bf and I both ordered appys, I had ordered crab cakes and my bf ordered the chowder. There's nothing fancy about the crab cakes, nor the chowder. Chowder was bland. I had also wine, not once did the server pour my wine for me. I had the pleasure of doing it all night. No one checked up on us when we had our appys. We waited about 40 mins for our entrees to come out, I had to ask when our food was coming. At this point we were starving and no one has come by to let us know that kitchen was super behind. Finally our entrees arrived. Took one bite and super disappointed. I had ordered the miso sable fish. The bottom was black I could taste the char on it, perhaps that how it was supposed to be made. That's besides the point, the fish was over cooked. I am a huge sable fish eater and this was definitely on the bottom of my list. There was a couple of mushrooms and bok choy on my plate, hardly enough to even notice. My bf ordered the ahi tuna, it came out one sided seared and other side unseared. Again, it was strange but perhaps that was how it was made. Not happy with out food. We were almost done eating when the server finally came to check up on us. By this time, I've already poured my entire half litre myself and eaten most of my food.
Time to pay the bill, the machine goes down and we get a hand written receipt. No break down of the taxes and liquor tax. As we were settling our bill with the trainee she asked how our food was. I told her it was okay, my fish was over cooked and the ahi tuna was okay. She said oh, that is how we make it here. I did not want to argue with her.
I have spread the word and told all of my friends. I found out that a gf of mine was there that same night and experienced the same thing. Slow service, food was okay, over priced okay food. I definitely would not go back again.
Sep 15th and I took a day off work to have a nice stroll in town and lunch with the Mrs. Walking on Robson St, we decided to try Joe Forte's for the first time, as I'd heard and read about, a few years back.
The reception girls at the enterance greeted us quite nicely and did their best to locate a table for us on the roof-top patio.
The ambience inside and out on the roof was very agreeable with a chic, clean surrounding, big, modern tables and comfortable chairs. All servers were nicely dressed with a cheerful smile and polite attitude.
We ordered a ceasar salad to start with (which was good - enough for two) and the mains arrived duely, about 15 - 20 minutes after the salad.
My wife ordered the lamb chops (2 pieces medium rare - despite having asked for medium well done! - on 2 spoonfulls of mashed potatos and 5-6 pieces of asparagus - $20 - Tuesday Special) and I ordered seared halibut (a 2 by 4 inch piece of fish with roast potatos - only 3 halves of medium sized ones - and same amount asparagus - $25).
Here's when everything went wrong: My plate came with some dead mosquito in the sauce and an eyelash hair on the side of the plate, that I saw immediately and informed the server.
To my surprize he gagged "we normally charge EXTRA for those sir! Ha. Ha!"
Not very funny, particularly when he took it back to the kitchen and returned in 2 minutes saying:
"we re-plated it sir!" smiling.
Obviously they had just cleaned the plate with a napkin or something. Unfortunately, I decided to let it pass and actually had the meal! While I certainly could have demanded that they prapare a fresh one.
Overall, the chops were not done and did not come off the bone without a fair bit of struggle, the fish was very bland and the light sauce just tasteless.
I felt somehow cheated about the food quality and value. I was not at all satisfied with the bill at $75 and change (and tip?) plus that EXTRA experience. They didn't even consider any discount or a free meal next time as it's customary at most places. No appologies either!
Apparently Joe Forte's are sleeping on their laurels. they have some impressive reviews from culinary critics and magazines (from the past millenium), some of which are proudly framed and hanged in the halls, but their food quality and service is not up to expectations - any more.
I have been to expensive restaurants with great food and service that justify their high prices and left satisfied. It's just a shame, Joe's have forgotten that tasty food and a little more care are keys to success.
I've been about 4 times. The first time, for Dine Out and had the worst experience. Then afterwards, for regular dining it was great. Needless to say, they are very selective about their guests.
For Dine-Out I had the tenderloin that was anything but tender. I've had tenderloin from Chartwell (at Four Seasons, now known as Yew) and the bread was cold.
Other times, the seafood was amazing! Service was great and friendly too.
Basically, don't go during Dine-Out and you'll enjoy the place.
This was our 3rd visit and on this occasion my 40th birthday as well.
The food was good - although not what we thought we had ordered - request for prawn cocktail got tempura prawns. No sooner had we finished our starter than the main course was served - they had not even taken away the dirty plates so it all felt a little rushed. We were sat upstairs and I know it was 9pm on a Friday night, but you could hardly hear yourself think let alone talk to your dinner companion. Was an OK evening, but our previous visits were better and remembered more fondly
We went to Joe Forte for Dine Out this year and I enjoy the food and the service. My party ordered the chowder and the oyster sampler and they were both delicious. We had the Fisherman’s Stew and Salmon for the main courses. The portions were generous. The desserts were the best part of the meal. The cheese cake was probably one of the best cheese cakes we had.
The server was friendly and professional.
If there is one complaint is the location of our table. We were seated at the corner of the restaurant by the wine deposit box. It was kind of small area to have that many tables. It did not have a great view of the entire restaurant.
Repeat customers of restuarants not only go back for good food, but also because of the high quality service. The service was spectacular, the detail-orientedness, the friendliness, the liveliness, and so on scored 5 stars for me.
Although I didn't quite enjoy my drink, a concoction of red alysse and other liquids, a bit too bubbly for my taste. Started off with the New England clam chowder, thick and filling. Then some Fanny Bay oysters, very fresh, nice and plump. My main was the trio of fish: ling cod, salmon, and something else, the cod was best by far! Must add in that my partner's yorkshire pudding that went with the steak was absolutely wonderful!!! Finished off the meal with a trio of chocolate, it was fantastic and you get quality AND quantity for the amount paid!! the white chocolate gelato paired wonderfully witht the choclate brownie and the espresso chocolate pot-de-creme was smooth and addictive.
I've been to Joe Fortes for dinner a couple time and felt that the restaurant is overrated. For the price we pay we could have found better restaurants in Vancouver. However, I went there for lunch today and found that they had these "Blue Plate Specials" that are actually daily lunch specials (Mon-Fri) catering to the business crowd. Today I had the Mediterranean fish soup and it was surprisingly good! It was basically a tomato-based soup with a generous portion of seafood (halibut, salmon, mussels, clamps, shrimps, scallops). Very tasty and filling! All for $10 I just thought it was an incredible deal. Although they were busy, service was efficient and food didn't take long to arrive. I would definitely go back and try their other daily specials. Highly recommended!
Thank you to our server Derek for making it the most enjoyable of our stops that week!
We were greeted by smiling faces, ushered to a nice table and placed in the hands of Derek who engaged us in light conversation and made us feel right at home. Based on some other reviews, we expected a pretentious atmosphere but were pleasantly surprised. Derek was excellent!
We started off with the oyster appetizer, 4 good sized oysters, fresh and tasty. For the main course, I had the beef and my lady had the ahi tuna. Both melted in our mouths! Delicious! For dessert, banana bread pudding and cheese cake. Again, delicious!!
We even tried one of Forte's local made house wines and were very pleased.
Before we left, we filled out the comment card and were surprised to receive a response from Derek thanking us for our comments. We enjoyed ourselves immensely! If you go, ask for Derek, there isn't a snobby bone in his body!