In the thick of the tourist season, out-of-town guests always seem to voice a preference for two things: a view, and fresh seafood. The West End restaurants make a good dime off this request, ditto with the Boathouse at Kitsilano, Monk McQueens, the old Cannery (RIP), etcetera.
The Beach House fits into the same niche, located right off the Dundarave Pier in West Vancouver. Call ahead and ask for a patio seat: while they can’t offer any guarantees, book early enough for dinner or late enough for drinks, and your odds of scoring waterfront real estate are pretty good.
This sort of restaurant (read: a tourist trap) is usually pretty pricey, though there are often plentiful deals to be had. As full disclosure, we went on a recent spend-$20-get-$40-credit offer from Teambuy, one of the newer group buy outfits expanding into Vancouver from Toronto (the premise is simple enough: get enough people to buy into a deal and the local business in question will provide it, a sort of voting-with-dollars conceit), and probably one of the main reasons why the Beach House was even an affordable option. That works into a good two-entrees-for-one deal, depending on what you order: coupled with the view, I thought the place couldn’t be beat.
That was, of course, until we actually ate there. As one can guess, the summer is a busy time for the Beach House, and the service was scrambling, despite there being more than enough of them to cover approximately 20 tables on the patio. There’s an amazing wine list at the Beach House, and it took a good half hour for us to ponder that fact before we got our first glass. Our half-dozen of raw oysters ($16) – plump and fresh, and served with a red wine migonette with grated horse radish – came quickly enough, though one wasn’t thoroughly cleaned. When we asked our server what kind of oysters they were, she promptly disappeared without ever answering.
Even the view couldn’t save the entrees. A steelhead salmon ($28), which I generally see elsewhere listed as a trout, came skin-side up, the bottom covered with albumin. I don’t usually mind the white stuff when I cook salmon or trout at home, but that’s because I’m a hack in the kitchen, and expect more from a trained chef when dining out (apparently either brining or brining the fish up to room temperature before cooking can reduce or eliminate that). That minor complaint might be easily chalked-up to me being a fussy prick, but the rest of the dish was a bigger issue. Served atop savoy cabbage and sweet potatoes, with a caper and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, the salmon tasted of nothing but oil, the dish glimmering like a man-made disaster in the sun, rendering the entrée near inedible.
The red snapper ($26) fared slightly better, seared with Cajun spice (which turned out to be plenty of black pepper and tumeric) and topped with a mango salsa, but still fouled by excess oil. The accompanying snap peas were also drowned in it, though sweet and fresh enough to pull through. Both were served alongside Israeli couscous, the only item on both dishes not covered with slick. A look around the patio saw most tables stick with burgers, sandwiches and pasta: we probably should have taken heed and saw that as a warning sign.
When company calls, this all might be irrelevant. A view is a view is a view, and even the most critical jerk has to recognize that Beach House’s is spectacular. Entertaining is not without its sacrifices, and so Beach House can still remain a viable option…just pull up a chair and stick with the wine list.
150 25 Street
West Vancouver, BC