Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Beach House at Dundarave Pier...
was "the shits" - thank you Marni for bringing back that term. Don't be fooled by its gorgeous location and upscale, contemporary interior. Make no mistake - they have no idea what they are doing.
Dad wanted to go for a nice dinner, dress up, you know, old school. Fine. So he suggested going "to a real nice place", making reservations at The Beach House in West Vancouver. Our table for two was at the window but being that it was dark out, it doesn't make any difference.
The focal point of the interior renovation is of an overbearing bar where bleak and ill conceived interpretations of cocktails are massacred before being left at dining tables. Garry ordered his usual, classic gin martini and I ordered "a vodka martini with a twist", to which our middle-aged, bearded waiter of Middle-Eastern decent replied "straight up?". This caught me off guard, being in a restaurant where entree's start at $35 a plate, wasn't a Martini a Martini? Surely it didn't suggest a frozen blended slurpee drink as it might mean at say, The Red Robin. "Yes straight up, with a twist". And then there was his assumption that it be "Grey Goose", to which I replied, "No, Stoli is fine. With a twist". (Grey Goose is totally overrated if you ask me). The waiter asked straight up again. Yeah, straight up - I'm ordering a Martini dude, please don't have your twenty-two year old bartender cracking ice up for me on this one. Also, being that you're a waiter in a high-end restaurant in West Vancouver where the average income is $200K and the average age is 55+, wouldn't a martini be a regular ordered item? Just putting it out there.
So how did Dad's Bombay Gin Martini and my Stoli Martini arrive? Let's start with Dad's: Unchilled but wet glass of watered down Gin and one lousy pit-in olive. Mine: unchilled glass with one lousy pit-in olive - remember I asked for a twist - twice. Whatever, let's move on.
No input with respect to our menu inquiries - in fact, when I asked about the braised short ribs, he said they were served on a plate - OMG. Was this for real? So we made our decisions up rather quickly and dad squabbled down his "substandard" martini, while making the comment to me, "yours can't be any good either", but I'm a little bit more at ease - since most of my dining is at Earl's, Browns or Pasparos. It's just a drink - but I would have rather getting the drink I ordered.
Shortly after Dad tried to get the attention of our waiter as he milled about with his back to us - dad actually tapped him on the arm - I don't think he should have done - the guy practically jumped. Dad pushed the half drank glass away and told him it was substandard and he'd like a scotch and soda. The waiter fussed about it for a second, implying he'd make it right and get another one - like you want another order of something they clearly can't get right? Then the guy asked what kind of scotch and whether dad wanted the soda on the side - yes of course you want the soda on the side! That should just be standard practice in a restaurant of that so-called calibre. But how do you think it arrived. Blended together, with dad asking didn't you say with the soda on the side? Oh God, this is turning into a dubious night. Dad's annoyance was getting to a level where it should never be. We hadn't even ate yet. Great.
Because our waiter never returned to our table to ask about wine selections (even though I had asked him to leave the wine list for dinner), our meals had arrived, brought by a different server, so I ordered a glass of the Malbec - only ordering a glass because the air had left the balloon and I just wanted it to all end. My rib-eye steak was HUGE - a totally unexplainable size. This would have been a detail I would have liked to have known when I asked about it. Trust me, this thing was Porterhouse proportion - that was what was distinctive about this dish. It came with thin sliced overcooked carrots, twenty frozen peas and twenty of those tasteless white beans - which I can't remember the name of. A thoughtless entree at best. Where is the dollop of mashed potato or rissoto? Though the steak was excellent, with a peppercorn sauce, but it could have fed two or three people. Dad's braised ribs were served over a smearing of mashed potato and a stem of Chinese broccoli. The ribs looked like they had been braising since last Thursday - but luckily dad likes his meat really well done so he never commented on it.
Insult to Injury: Desssert. Dad ordered the cheesecake. What the Beach House serves is a small round flat biscuit topped with a round "tart" of cheesecake - if the rib-eye was HUGE, the cheesecake was microscopic - with some berry coulee dripped on the plate. My $10 blueberry tea was half an ounce of orange brandy (there's no way any Amaretto made its way into that glass) which was only ruined by their fancy tea. We couldn't get out of there fast enough.
Egad people. Don't go to the Dunderave Beach House unless you're really drunk and have a lot of money to burn.