A sure sign tourist season is right around the corner is an early influx of out-of-town visitors seeking a definitive Vancouver dining experience. Chances are it entails a water view and, hopefully, local seafood on the menu. All of which explains how we arrived at the Teahouse at Ferguson Point (6046693281) the other night.
The former officers-mess-turned tearoom has grown like Topsy over the decades, sprouting first its conservatory (where every tiered table enjoys a panorama) and then an ocean-facing deck with sweeping views of English Bay-not to mention an abundance of heaters to ward off the evening chills and a massive canopy to thwart midday sun or shower.
Our guest was marking a milestone, so we were impressed that when we made our reservation, we were quizzed if this was a special occasion.
Our experience combined an obliging sunset with West Coast tastes in a laid back, formal setting. Teahouse staff go to extraordinary lengths to make patrons feel welcome. Every time I looked around the room, there was a flurry of servers and even an occasional chef checking on guests.
The Caesar salad ($10) was tasty, if somewhat pedestrian, but a trio of fresh halibut mains carried the day. The perfectly cooked fish arrived piping hot and shone further with a zesty capers, parsley and lemon beurre blanc. ($29.50)
Desserts ($8.50) included a seductive, satiny white chocolate cheesecake and perfectly executed lemon tart with blueberries and coulis. Our birthday girl's chocolate Milano cake was comped-a nice touch.
The evening's only misfire was the much vaunted stuffed mushrooms ($12), which arrived as a gooey mess of drizzled balsamic and cheese that all but masked the crab filling. Maybe it's time to dig out the original recipe.
It's tough to be all things to all people but you can be sure, after so many years, the Teahouse understands its role and executes it well. No wonder everyone-from starry-eyed newlyweds to out of towners and business diners in search of a spot of tranquility-continues to flock here. The view is as spectacular as ever; and the kitchen delivers a populist menu (with dutiful Ocean Wise options) at an upper end affordable level. Wines are fairly priced and staff are quick to oblige with a blanket or jump in as impromptu photographer as needed.
It's a destination room, but a sound one. If you're looking for a deal, go Sunday night for a $35 three-course prix fixe menu.
Just encountered: Cloud 9, a newly hatched gluten free bakery-although you wouldn't know it from tasting their impressive range of biscotti, foccaccia and cupcakes. The secret, says the New West newcomer (1025 Royal Ave., 604-249-5010), lies in their gluten free flour, which sets them apart from rice bakeries, a traditional gluten free option. The goods are available in Vancouver at The Gourmet Warehouse; Caffe Amici; Musette Caffe; and Ed's Gluten Free Specialty. You can also check them out at EAT Vancouver, June 1 to 3. Info at eatvancouver.com).
In case you missed it, spot prawn season is in full swing. Some of the tops we've tasted are at Yew (6046899333), with a juicy quintet tucked into leafy greens and house-made gnocchi. They're not only just cooked but also neatly peeled right down to the tail. Check 'em out at the bar for a light and delicious lunch.