No symbols are necessary company-wide on Oak Bay Marine Group eatery menus to define sustainable seafood.
The well-known sign indicating Ocean Wise seafood on the menu is official extinct at the Marina Restaurant and across the chain this season, says corporate chef Jeff Keenliside.
Keenliside has lived most of his life on Vancouver Island, working in kitchens while pursuing post-secondary education until landing at the Aerie Resort where he started his apprenticeship. He finished at Café Brio under Sean Brennan, building a strong foundation in local food, seasonality and menu composition. Keenliside joined the Marina Restaurant in 2005, and received honours as Vancouver Island Chef of the Year. He first heard about Ocean Wise just over 10 years ago, around its inception, before coming to the Marina Restaurant the first time (he left to pursue opportunity, but returned in early 2013).
“It’s all about sustainability and using local product. It’s really part of my background, apprenticeship and training in this industry, so it was already important to me,” Keenliside said.
Ocean Wise, based out of Vancouver Aquarium, gathers data on different fisheries to evaluate sustainability and issues classifications in red, yellow and green. Green is good to go as far as sustainability is concerned. For a long time now restaurants have aimed for a high percentage of Ocean Wise fish on the menu.
“What you did on your menu was put a little symbol on your menu, so it becomes a consumer choice,” Keenliside said. “We ran the marina like that for years … In the last couple years – especially upon my return to Oak Bay – I really wanted the Marina Restaurant to be one of the best seafood restaurants to go to, and because our whole business is based on fishing … I look at it as our responsibility to be as sustainable as possible with regards to our restaurant.”
This year, when all their seasonal properties in Canada opened, all the menus were 100 per cent Ocean Wise. This includes Oak Bay’s Marina Restaurant sushi bar, where Keenliside felt he might find some pushback.
“The biggest challenge I saw was actually going to be the sushi bar at the Marina Restaurant because the sushi bar chef is a very traditional sushi master. I was going to have to convince him this was a good idea, that he was going to make some changes.”
Marina Restaurant’s Sushi Bar is the first and only to go 100 per cent Ocean Wise in Victoria. The Ocean Wise Sushi Bar at the Marina Restaurant in Oak Bay is open for lunch as well as dinner.
Sushi chef David Nakayama, who has run the sushi bar since 1996, embraced the change. Salmon and tuna and crab and imitation crab were already sustainable. In fact, Keenliside said, the menu was more than 75 per cent Ocean Wise, but a couple of key items required some thought – for example unagi became sablefish.
“He didn’t hesitate. He respects the ocean as well,” Keenliside said. “He totally went outside the box of his normal comfort zone and redeveloped the sushi menu.”
Just below the Marina Restaurant more changes are underway, with the former Coffee House re-branded as the Marina Dockside Eatery.
Overlooking the marina, the fully licensed Marina Dockside Eatery offers spectacular views and a fresh innovative menu. Start the day with locally roasted coffee by Caffé Fantastico, a variety of teas by Silk Road, and freshly baked pastries, muffins and scones by The Marina Restaurant’s pastry chef Danielle Cole.
“We are offering a diverse array of food and beverage options at the Eatery and the new name truly reflects the experience we are delivering on property,” said Keenliside. “We’re not just a coffee house anymore.”
Handmade in house, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus include frittatas, quiche, local charcuterie from The Whole Beast on Oak Bay Avenue, cast iron skillet mac and cheese, freshly made soups, Marina Restaurant smoked seafoods, salads, sandwiches, and Little Qualicum Cheeses.
The Marina Restaurant, Sushi Bar and Dockside Eatery are located at 1327 Beach Dr., overlooking the docks at the Oak Bay Marina.