Real Deal food cart serves delicious local fare
“The Real Deal”, brought to Vancouver by Chef Josh Wolfe and Andy Fielding brings fresh, locally sourced food to the streets. Located on the North West corner of Granville and Robson, the latest food cart from Fresh, Local, Wild offers friendly faces and delicious BC fare from the back of a red truck. In the end, the classically crafted poutine stood alone as the ultimate star of the meal. More on that later...
The ingredients are all locally sourced and responsibly harvested. Chef Josh Wolfe, former Executive Chef of Vancouver favourite COAST restaurant, would have it only that way. A self-proclaimed “avid outdoorsman” with a passion for the wild, Wolfe proclaims on the Fresh, Local, Wild website, that he would go and get the product himself everyday if he could. (Which is how most of the mushrooms get there.) The mushrooms he refers to come from the woods of Quadra Island. These chanetrelle mushrooms add a wonderfully earthy flavour to his poutine.
I approached the truck with a mixture of anticipation and excitement. I had tried to go there for dinner the night before, but just missed the truck. I voiced my disappointment on Twitter to which I received a warm reply from @freshlocalwild stating that they had to “boogie early today” and would have to make it up to me the next time I came around. The anticipation mounted tenfold as I wondered what it was I was in for.
Arriving for a late lunch on a typically rainy Vancouver day, I hadn’t anticipated the lineup. “I guess Friday is late lunch day and I like it,” confirms Wolfe, as he turns back to face a hot grill covered with burgers. Meanwhile, his business partner, Andy Fielding, a street food aficionado who got his start on the streets of San Francisco at nineteen, smiles amicably as he answers questions from curious customers and passersby, all the while carbonating soda water to be used in homemade cream sodas. An unnamed fellow stands between the two, a big, inviting smile on his face, though slightly lost-looking, completely characteristic of a second day on the job.
Naturally sweetened Black Current Soda made from scratch
As is the case with most food carts, the menu is limited but in this case, tightly focused. “The Real Deal” does not disappoint, offering up unique items such as Venison Burgers, Hot Smoked Northern Coho Sandwiches, Fried Oyster Po-Boys and of course, the Quadra Island Chanterelle Mushroom Poutine.
I decided to treat my boss to lunch, so I ordered the Venison Burger, having never had this particular variety of meat before, and the Hot Smoked Northern Coho Sandwich, which I had heard they smoked right there on the truck and marina-ed in an old Haida recipe. I ordered them each as a combo with a side of the poutine.
Walking away with two biodegradable takeout containers filled to the brims with food, I was slightly concerned about paying $23 CAD for the two meals. I had half expected the concept of street food to lend itself to a more budget-friendly dining experience, but at the same time when considering not only the size of the meal (which is extremely well-portioned and filling) I also had to consider that I wasn’t simply buying your everyday, run of the mill, Jumbo Smokie from an anonymous cart; I was purchasing fresh, locally sourced food cooked by an experienced chef. Also considering an average lunch in Yaletown would often cost me $10 or more, I realized the price point was actually quite decent.
The Venison Burgers were very good, the meat tender, though its flavour was somewhat marred by a slight excess of spicy mayo. It was topped with classic fixings, including lettuce and a slice of tomato, all pressed within a whole wheat bun. It was well executed burger, but I found it to be not wholly different from any other grilled burger served at a decent restaurant or café.
The Hot Smoked Northern Coho Sandwich completely stole the show, however. The salmon was a generous size and thickness and its smoky yet slightly sweet flavour blended amazingly well with another generous helping of the sandwich topper: coleslaw. This time the protein held up its character and flavour and blended with the toppings beautifully. The fish wasn’t overly spicy, but finished with a nice kick, and the coleslaw was creamy and crunchy.
Hot Smoked Northern Coho Sandwich
In the end, the classically crafted poutine stood alone as the ultimate star of the meal. The Chanterelle mushrooms added an extra chunkiness to the poutine (based on a personal philosophy of mine when it comes to poutine: the chunkier, the better). The gravy was nice and thin, thereby not overwhelming the poutine or adding any unnecessary heaviness. That job was rightly deferred to the hunks of cheese. The fries were crisped nicely and for just enough time, so as to render the outside crispy and the insides warm and soft.
I didn’t have the chance, or gluttonous capacity, to order the Fried Oyster Po-Boy, although I did see one handed over to a gentleman who had ordered before me and I have to say, it looked sinful. The “patty”, if you could call it that, was fried to a gorgeous, deep golden brown and Chef Wolfe warned him that its juiciness may come as a surprise, so be prepared. A fair call.
Though I haven’t tried any of the other street food ventures, I have definitely walked by a few, and so far no cart, from their selection of cuisine to their presentation, has appealed to my senses. “The Real Deal” from Fresh, Local, Wild called out to me, both in terms of the overall concept and street-side appeal. With a deliberate, delicious menu, these guys are bound to find much success, and I am bound to become a repeat customer.