Fare finally beats the view – Metro US

Fare finally beats the view

The Teahouse
7501 Stanley Park Dr.

Rating: ***
Dinner & drinks for 2: $100

Waterfront fine dining in Vancouver has always presented as a bit of an oxymoron. In many cases, it seems the better the view—the worse the meal. The Teahouse in Stanley Park was, to my mind, no exception to that rule for many years, during which it was also briefly known as The Sequoia Grill. Then last year, the current owners cottoned on that the concept, the name, the menu—in short, everything—were all bunk and could use a wee bit of refurbishment.

Step 1: Give the restaurant its old, World War II-inspired name back. Check. After several months of waiting, the next step was taken, and new executive chef Francois Gagnon—formerly of Lumière, Blue Water Café, and Cin Cin—came on board with a complete menu redesign. Check. And now—after several visits—the results.

The current menu has more of a bistro feel to it, with steak frites, mussels and poutine equally at home with sablefish, Qualicum scallops and some old favourites that survived the purge, notably the carrot soup with fennel and crème fraîche ($7). The last impressed all of us with its rich, fragrant base, as did a side of mac and cheese ($6) that was baked with gruyère and parmigiano.

The croque madame ($15) was tasty, if overpriced, but the similarly-priced AAA burger, with portobello and caramelized onions, was worth every penny, especially when sided with the classic poutine (we subbed out the regular fries for an extra $3).

The well-portioned steak and frites ($18) was excellent value, well done and the fries were salty enough to match the sea air outside. Arctic char ($24) was one of the more inventive dishes on the menu, thanks to the accompanying black perogi made from squid ink and stuffed with potato and bacon. We finished that evening with a delightful poached pear and mascarpone chantilly cream ($8).

On another visit, a charcuterie plate ($11) was much less impressive—downright disappointing, in fact, with unoriginal selections of ham and other mystery meats, and not enough bread. A starter of cured salmon ($13.50) with an overly chilled herbed crème fraîche struck another odd note, due to the odd bits of (likely canned) orange and pineapple randomly strewn across the plate, along with capers. (Note: capers and canned “citrus” are not a match made in palate heaven.)

The desserts redeemed things slightly, although the vanilla and honey crème brulée ($8) lacked any distinguishable hint of honey, and the molten chocolate cake ($8) was too boring to be enjoyed.

The restaurant’s strengths are definitely with its comfort dishes—burger, steak, mussels, etc.—and it does those very well. There’s even a hint of imagination—although in some cases, it seems to have run a bit wild. It’s definitely now a much better match to the spectacular views, and hopefully, will continue to improve and evolve under Gagnon’s expert hands.

New releases
We all know about ice wine, but ice cider? Created by Quebec native Francois Pouliot, the cider is made through the alcoholic fermentation of the juice of frozen, pressed apples. Neige ice cider is a rich amber with the fresh snap of apple, and a hint of vanilla in the finish. Serve cold with nutty cheeses or milky desserts. Taste it at Quebec House until the end of the Games or pick up a bottle at your local BCLS for $29.99.

Dining out

On March 7, Cru Restaurant (1459 W. Broadway) will present a winemaker’s dinner featuring the wines of B.C.’s Painted Rock winery. Four courses, including wine pairings, for $85 per person. Call 604-677-4111 for reservations.

On Mar. 8, DB Bistro Moderne presents the next instalment of their winemaker’s dinners. Four courses, including wine pairings, for $75 per person. Full menu and details at www.dbbistro.ca. Reservations required.

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