Their patio has been voted the best patio five years in a row, and they have recently won a golden plate award for it as well. So today we were here to celebrate those achievements and to celebrate the launch of the spring time patio season. And what better a day, the sun was out and it was definitely sunglasses and dining out doors weather.
Located at the back of Granville Island, parking is relatively abundant. The restaurant is attached to the Granville Island hotel, you walk through it in order to reach their patio by the water.
Dining area, lounge, and patio. Depending on the weather you are able to choose where to sit for the sake of ambience. The soft spoken stillness of the dining area, the laid back feel of the lounge, or the high energy vibe of their sun filled patio. Each with its own unique view. Most notable, the kitchen counter in the dining room that also served as a fish tank. However today we passed through the lounge with its own multiple taps bar, to each the patio entrance.
What a view, I never knew such a patio existed. You are able to take in so much from any seat. The foreground is Pelican Bay marina where eight boats are docked, apparently these are the same luxurious eight boats that dock here all year round. The “Monopoly II” certainly caught my eye. Further out towards the water you could see the sea buses travelling back and froth, and the stand up paddle boarders grazing the calm waters. And beyond that, you can make out the tiny blurs of runners jogging the sea wall, and the cyclists taking it by bike. This view is not exclusive to diners, a few couple strolled past the patio, threading on its boardwalk, they all seemed just as surprised as I was to see a restaurant here for the first time.
The patio itself was spacious, it provided many seating options. Recliners and couches for those looking drink and relax with their company. Tables by fire pits created a certain formality, and it allowed patrons to stay warmer as the sun began to set past the building. Most impressive was their large cabana that centred it all. It gave the patio a Miami feel with its horizontal stripped curtains. It also allows for some shade during sunnier days, no one wants to sit down and eat in direct sun light. Nothing takes away the appetite more than constantly squinting and sweating over your plate.
Our meal began with their gluten free and ocean wise “legendary chili squid”. Tender cooked tubs of squid prepared with ginger, lemon grass, garlic, and cilantro. Each bite was as good as the last, flavourful from all the seasonings and crisp from its soak in the deep fryer. I am craving these just as I am writing this, definitely my favourite calamari like dish to date.
By comparison their “Vegetable spring rolls” were just as crispy and just as flavourful. Each roll was tightly packed with various shreds of vegetable. I made out carrots, cabbage and vermicelli noodles. Each roll was served cut in half and topped with a red onion, mango, and cilantro salsa. This matched the ginger papaya mango coulis prepared on the side for dipping well. Another very well done classic appetizer I found better than most other interpretations, that I have tried.
For entrees we were able to try various slices of their “forno pizzas” made in house using their own tiled pizza oven. Each was served on cutting boards, under heat lamps. It was a self serve affair.
“Prosciutto and Arugula”. Italian prosciutto, arugula, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and rosemary oil. The prosciutto wasn’t too overwhelming for the light arugula. Instead the salty meat and the peppery vegetable balanced each other out well, while the herbs used offered more dimension in flavour. I didn’t get as much buffalo mozzarella as I wanted. You can’t beat cheese this stringy and soft.
“Smoked Sockeye”. Smoked wild salmon, crème fraîche, capers, dill, and red onion. A classic flavour combination presented on an easy to eat, flatbread like pizza dough. The salmon was cut thin as to not dominate the refreshing red onion and the zesty capers. I missed out in the creme fraiche and dill accents. Overall good, but nothing that hasn’t been done before.
“Old Bridge Lager BBQ Beef” pizza. Shaved prime rib, roasted onions, roasted peppers, had banana peppers; with a whiskey bbq sauce drizzle. This pizza ate like a meal. It was heavier with the meat, and spicy with the sauce and peppers. It was definitely the odd one out of all the other pizzas. Made to compliment a full bodied beer and a side of hot wings or fries.
I really enjoyed the “Wild Mushroom” pizza with sautéed BC forest mushrooms, fresh arugula, and Dubliner cheese sauce. There were plenty of tiny mushrooms, I enjoyed their earthy spice and their chewy stems. The cheese was a little salty alone, but went well over the bread like pizza dough.
The “Margherita Classic” is a classic for a reason. Cheesy and thick buffalo mozzarella, fresh herby basil, and juicy tomato. You can’t beat the classics when they are done like this.
We were also given the first half of a tour of their in house made beer operation. A tour that would be cut short when our elevator refused to move and we were trapped. That is until a server was able to pull the doors apart and free us at mid floor level. My first trapped in an elevator experience. After being stuck shoulder to shoulder with folks sweating as much as you are, the patio and your beer is where you want to retreat back to. So sadly we did not see how their beer travels 200 feet from start to finish, after fermenting for 24 hours. But trying the outcome was just as good.
My guest would come back just for their “Jamaican hibiscus beer”. It was that good and would be amazingly refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
On another night, with another guest we came back to “Dockside” to enjoy dessert with their great view. Having been once I was able to confirm that the location was worth a second trip back to. Though sadly the crisper weather had the patio closed, and the desserts were not as impressive as their appetizers. During this trip we settled for a table in their dining area. On one side was their island bar, on the other large windows giving us a glimpse of the patio and its view that we were missing.
The desserts came fast, clearly they were prepared ahead of time and dressed to order. Both looked equally impressive, but it was the taste that didn’t have me sold. Sadly I will be skipping their $10 desserts in the future. “Dockside lemon meringue” made with an all butter pastry, lemon curd, charred Italian meringue, and a raspberry sauce. I appreciated the gold flakes the most, it certainly elevated the dish. Especially when sprinkled on top of the delicate and fluffy meringue. I found the lemon curd below it abrasive, it dominated the other elements and masked the crumbly crust it sat. And when paired with the raspberry sauce smeared on the plate it all became too sweet to finish.
“Bailey’s and macadamia creme burlee” with white chocolate short bread and honey roasted macadamia nuts. When will I learn that classics are classics for a reason, and that more isn’t necessarily better? I am constantly being drawn by twists like these, this is the first I have seen a bailey flavoured dessert so wanted to try it. It was another undisputedly great presentation, though taste wise, I preferred creme burlee the regular way, vanilla. I only got through half of the burlee, a bite of the tasteless cookie, and a couple of crunchy nuts before I realized it was far too sweet and I was forcing myself to finish. The fresh fruit was the best part as it was a usually palate cleanser. I wish our server caught on and would have asked if anything was wrong, when he bussed our still relatively full plates. Though with such large portions I guess it is common to have dessert left uneaten.