Claudia Kwan/for Metro Vancouver
The Shore Club
688 Dunsmuir St. (at Granville Street)
Open for lunch and dinner
Dinner for four, including tax, drinks and tip: $440
*** 1/2 (out of 5)
The Shore Club hearkens back to yesteryear, with a dazzling interior that makes it seem eminently possible you’ll turn the corner and see Ol’ Blue Eyes himself holding court with the Rat Pack. Rich wood walls are inlaid with caramel-swirled stone, and swimmy blues and greens are everywhere in the carpet and chairs. A spiral staircase rises to the second level to reveal a full range of seating options, from intimate spots for two, to tables that let you peruse the wheeling and dealing below.
A quick scan of the menu leaves me feeling equally as though I’m in a time warp. Black cod from Alaska? Lobster from the Caribbean? Sea bass, orange roughy, and Ossetran caviar? What happened to buying locally and sustainably?
Putting our niggling qualms aside momentarily, we tuck into very good scallop and prawn ceviche, Manhattan clam chowder, and crisp popcorn rock shrimp that should dial the spice up a few notches in the batter.
Mains arrive equally promptly, with the lamb chops, bone-in rib steak, New York striploin and lobster, and pan-seared sea bream getting approving murmurs for being cooked judiciously and for being generously portioned (which at least mostly justifies the prices of $39 to $50). They are served unaccompanied, so we tack on gargantuan stalks of steamed asparagus, mashed potatoes that taste like they came out of a box, and fabulous tempura onion rings.
Our white-coated server has been taking very good care of us, and doesn’t balk at once again being asked the source of an ingredient before we order dessert. When he returns from his umpteenth check with the chef, he sheepishly tells us the blueberries are from L.A. Hopefully that changes once B.C. blueberry season gets into full swing.
Proprietor David Aisenstat of the Keg, Hy’s and Gotham has enough restaurant knowhow to fill several telephone books, so I wonder what this menu indicates about the intended clientele for the Shore Club.
Could it be international diners who won’t notice the absence of local ingredients, or locals who are prepared to ignore philosophy in favour of decadence?
Both seem like pretty retro types to me.