The wraps are off Beach Bay Café and Patio, across from English Bay, in the West End of Vancouver (1193 Denman St., 604-685-7337).
I was in for an informal meeting and wine tasting and—while the restaurant is still very much in “soft opening” mode—thought I should share my first impressions.
Although I’ll be heading back asap for a full meal experience to write a comprehensive review (and to get some better pics), my hunch is that Beach Bar and Grill will indeed prove to be a worthy successor to Harry Kambolis’s ill fated Raincity Grill.
I love what the new owners (Viaggio Hospitality Group) have done to the room—not a whole lot, although it’s vastly improved: bright and airy, clean lined and simply designed, awash in white, with natural wood table tops. The eye is drawn to the rear wall of the room, which is filled by a sepia-toned archival view of English Bay beach and its pier in 1910, pre-Sylvia Hotel.
Beach Bay’s menu is very much locally focused, in a way that, in my mind, pays tribute to Raincity and all it achieved; and promises to continue to embrace that regional seasonal seasonal mantra so ably forged by its predecessor.
We had only a couple of small plates but I was impressed by the sourcing of the ingredients, depth of flavours and the detail in presentation. The gently smoked steelhead trout with apricot crème fraîche is superb, well textured and nicely balanced.
Very tender and fresh, sweetbreads paired nicely with rhubarb and grilled beetroot. A ‘snack’ of baby turnips with their greens and filled shrimp custard was crunchy and tasty.
Service proved relaxed and obliging. Beach Bay’s wine list—wide ranging, globally sourced and very smartly chosen—delivers no shortage of options both in terms of price and quality. No surprise there, perhaps, given the abundance of savvy sommelier power behind this group.
Starters range from $11 to $15, mains $23 to $28, although you’ll likely want to order some sides, such as fingerling potatoes, local greens or roasted mushrooms ($8).
In short, I can’t wait to get back in for the full meal deal. As for the long run, I’ll be intrigued to see if Beach Bay succeeds in establishing itself as the quintessential Vancouver room, in the same way that Raincity Grill did before. Somehow, I have a pretty good hunch that it will.