Putting good food on the table is hard work. This is especially true but entirely worth it for Restaurant 62: a stand-alone, farm-to-table restaurant that has served the Fraser Valley for a more than decade and sources most of its ingredients from within a few miles.
The surrounding farms and rolling pastures produce tastes that are reminiscent of simpler times, and the farmers have a respect for the land they tend to every morning. The team at Restaurant 62 has found a way to capture that kinship with the soil and masterfully create dishes that engage both the eyes and the palate. Joining owner Jeff Massey in this mission is chef Matthew Nichols, who was recently promoted to the position of chef de cuisine and co-owner. Fortifying his skills in the kitchen at Restaurant 62 for the past four years, Nichols brings his own cooking techniques and presentation to the Abbotsford restaurant.
The ingredients are seasonally influenced and locally sourced, with the moments between each bite complemented by great service and a wine selection rich with some of B.C’s most beloved. The menu at Restaurant 62 reads like an epicure’s day in heaven: Maple Hill Farms chicken breast with pomme puree, kale, thyme jus; Yarrow Meadows Farm duck breast with winter squash, russet rosti, and quince preserve; and sockeye salmon with cauliflower puree, buckwheat tabouleh, and beets. Then there are the heartier meats: Australian lamb leg with lentils, garam masala, pistachios, and mint chutney; or 72-hour braised short rib with pearl onions, blue cheese butter, and polenta.
At its core, the restaurant offers a simplified modern dining experience that is accessible. “Our main focus is flavour, so once we have decided on the components of a dish, then we look at how they are going to be prepared to make the dish aesthetically pleasing to the eye,” says Nichols. “[The inspiration] comes from the surroundings; we have many farms just out our door, whether it’s rabbit from Popkum, pork from Brian Giesbrecht in Aldergrove, produce from Chilliwack, or berries from Abbotsford. We take the beautiful products that the farmers give us and let them speak for themselves.”
For Nichols, it was the ideal amalgamation of his passion for local food and a congruent lifestyle—not to mention the opportunity to work with Massey—that drew him to the restaurant: “From the moment I knew this was the path I was going to take, I have said that I want to cook great food with local ingredients, where I live.” By cultivating a quiet space to enjoy the labour of local farmers, Restaurant 62 has romanticized a relationship with food, free of pretense. It makes farm-to-table feel less like a philosophy and more like a literal description—as it should be.
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