by Lauren Mote
I totally love a food adventure, especially one that requires one to overcome a series of obstacles before reaching their finish line. This evening, my obstacles include a lengthy bus ride, a vertigo-infected journey over the Lions’ Gate suspension bridge (named for The Lions’ Peaks, the North Shore mountains) while I dramatically search for construction flaws, and lastly a time limit – I don’t want to miss the live music, nor do I want to miss the kitchen’s last call for small plates. The 250a bus to Dundarave cruises down Marine Dr, as if slow enough to showcase Park Royal, numerous highly lit soccer fields, and countless picturesque views of the ocean at every cross street, looking to the left. At least it was only dusk, and all of these things were still clearly visible. A journey through Dundarave itself is very cute – a quaint little village, stretching across Marine Dr. in West Vancouver, at the base of Cypress Mountain. It’s home to several little shops, cafes and great restaurants, like the one I will be attending in a matter of minutes.
A 20 minute ride is concluded with our arrival at the Beach House (25th and Marine). Recently consumed with creativity and a renewed culinary identity, the once West Vancouver hot spot could soon again be ready to wow diners, and attract foodies from far and wide, such as myself and my friend Rachel, to make the trek and say it was well-worth it in the end.
Recently taken over by ex-Cioppino’s Chef de Cuisine Sean Sylvestre, the “new” Beach House showcases Mediterranean flavour, West Coast “local” ingredients, and classical technique. This could be the recipe for popularity once more. Speaking of Cioppino’s, as if scooping Sylvestre wasn’t enough, ex-Cioppino’s Sous-Chef John Corsi was also attracted to this cottage-like venue.
What seems to be the attraction? Well…
We arrived in style – just about 8:15 on a Wednesday evening. Outside, looking over the bay, it’s dark as far as the eye can see. In the distance, small lights are visible, and moving slowly. Night ferries travelling between the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island light up as if for a second, and then vanish as quickly as they appeared while dodging their own obstacles.
Inside the restaurant, some patrons were found celebrating at random tables within the two tiered dining room. Glancing around the seating areas, we spot the outdoor patio; we hear this patio is fantastic in the summertime, but sadly it’s still too chilly to open the door. However, this modest patio provides an entrance to the seawall and the dimly lit Dundarave Pier straight ahead.
Sitting at the bar is always my favourite. I love to interact with people. One by one, servers, managers and bartenders pop out of the kitchen with culinary creations, deliver, reassume their positions, and continue dinner service. It was like a graceful stampede. Andrew, our server, graciously offers a couple of martinis. We see Chef Sylvestre emerge from the kitchen; we exchange glances for a moment. “Hi, you must be Lauren. Really nice to meet you.” The great thing is this – being the girlfriend of John Corsi means I get to meet everyone – and I love that! After some friendly banter back and forth, John emerges. “If you’re both out here, who’s steering back there?” I ask playfully.
We suggest to Chef Sylvestre and John to pick two small plates for us to gobble. After a short time, 2 plates arrive – one carried by Chef and the other by John. Chef’s marinated beet salad, with aged sherry vinegar, fresh mint, wild baby arugula and shaved ricotta salata; I got a “thing” for beets. Secondly, pan seared scallops wrapped in house made duck prosciutto, with pipérade, baby greens and herb oil. These guys are unbelievable. They can make a “small” plate into a work of art. The best part is that it tastes even better then it looks; and paired with the right glass of wine, now that’s love.
We couldn’t resist ordering dessert – we had no idea what we were getting into. Chef pops over, “do you like chocolate, do you like nuts…?” I suppose we had a vague idea of what was in store. Soon arrives the chocolate and pistachio pâté with seasonal berries, a fresh berry coulis, and finished with a pistachio crème anglaise. Dynamite. I never say that.
It’s exciting to have a premonition of good things before you travel to great lengths for food, service and what I always refer to as the “pursuit of gastronomical happiness”. I always knew it would be wonderful, so I would never be weary about going the distance to West Vancouver for appetizers and dessert, without a car.
Well done gentlemen. Well done indeed.
The Beach House
150 25th St.
West Vancouver, BC