Beach Bay Café, Vancouver.

August 2015

This completely new place replaced the old Rain City Grill, and although it’s a bit better than the Grill just before it collapsed, it’s not a patch on the old place during its heyday.

We’re told the executive chef is Scott Korzack (he’s worked at l’Abbatoir) and that the new owner is Italian, and has also taken over the venue of Kambolis’s C on the False Creek waterfront. C was a pretty high-class seafood destination for many years. Its former chef Robert Clark now operates a fish shop and seafood take-out near Main and King Ed.

I found the interior of the Beach Bay Café unpleasantly cheap-looking and garish. The chairs are plastic, white or faintly turquoise, tables faux blonde wood laminate. The front-end staff outnumbered the diners at about 6:45 on a sunny Thursday, with throngs of West End tourists walking past the front door. We were taken to a little table on the beautiful West-facing narrow deck where we had enjoyed so many meals at the Grill. Although the deck was almost empty, there were five people at a table fifteen metres away yelling like teenage drunks.

Server was a relaxed young guy who behaved professionally and conversed, gave opinions, and showed very little attitude. Over the next half hour the place filled up by about 40%.

Our starters were mackerel and carpaccio. They looked nice on the plates but were untraditional in a strange random kind of way. The carpaccio beef had a soft consistency (reminding me of Italian Kitchen), was piled with peas and sunflower seeds, and oddly just lacked flavour, even when we requested salt and applied it. My mackerel fillets were overcooked, tasted of the fish all right, but again there was a hard-to-explain failure of flavour and flavour contrast and something weird and incongruous about the accompanying firm lima beans and mint purée.

We decided to stick around to share a main, and it was “black cod a la plancha”, the lovely oily fish tasting just fine, but the accompanying zucchini and other vegetables again way down the scale flavour-wise, maybe as though they had been long-frozen or reconstituted. We also had a side of fried pork ribs in honey mustard which for me was easily the best thing the kitchen sent us, the tiny ribs dry outside, succulent inside, tasty.

$160 for two with an $84 bottle of Chablisienne.

What a waste that this new spot (like nearby Cactus Club) doesn’t do its world-class maritime location justice. I could see giving the new C a try, but would worry that they might also have sunk it like a Pearl Harbor battleship. For sure we will be steering clear of this garish hazard to navigation. Food 5.9, service 8.0, ambience schizophrenic, value 5.5.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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