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May 6, 2008 04:01 PM

Need Anniversary Dinner for Parents in Vancouver or Victoria

Hi all,

My parents will be taking a trip to Vancouver and Victoria in late June.

As a present, my sister and I wanted to pay for a nice dinner there!!!

Any advice on restaurants that we could get a certificate from or is our best bet to give them some C$s & make them a reservation? Would like it to be a very nice dinner, with fresh local ingredients. Seafood would be preferable. Also, nice atmosphere and view would be wonderful.

No ultra hipster places please lol. Took my parents to one the last time I visited and they were terribly confused by small courses and techno music with minimalist decor. Also, my mom died over cheese and crackers for $17. She joked that if she brought her saltines in from the car, maybe she could just get the cheese for 8.50. lol But my Mom did say she had the best fish ever at that place in the end....

Thanks for all recs!!

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  1. Brasserie L'ecole in Victoria and Parkside in Vancouver would be my recommendations. I believe that they can be booked via OpenTable.

    11 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      As usual, fmed gives good reccos, but just to clarify I don't think either of these places would be considered to have views. You can definitely make resos on line at both, however.

      Views are a bit of a touchy subject in Vancouver (and Victoria too in my limited experience). The restos with the good ones don't tend to end up on the "best of" lists. For seafood and a view, out of towners seem to really like the Cannery which has arguably the best view for a resto in Vancouver proper. I've been a few times in the past couple of years for gatherings with English rellies who loved it. I was not transported by the food and it was not inexpensive but it had its points. The room is a bit kitschy (check out the background of the pic down the page here but you just can't argue with the view -- do be sure to specify a window seat if you're booking.

      Another potentially parentally pleasing option might be the Fish House in Stanley Park. No ocean view here but a really delightful setting in the middle of the park -- it's like dining in someone's old manor house. The menu is not at all frou frou, and if you stick to the fish/seafood they're known for all is good. Desserts can be a bit hit and miss I've found. I believe both these establishments are run by the same consortium. Both participate in Ocean Wise which is a program to try to use local/sustainable sea creatures, and both tout their use of "seasonal" ingredients, although not to the extent of places like Aurora Bistro, for example, where they take the local angle to the max.

      I think it would be extremely thoughtful to make the booking for your lucky parental units and hit them with some cash rather than a gift certo. That way you've done the heavy lifting for them but if plans change as they sometimes do on holidays you've given them flexibility.

      Good luck and let us know where you decide to send 'em!

      1. re: grayelf

        As far as view restaurants go...the Sequoia Group of restaurants specialize in views and "safe" menus. Check out the The Sandbar, Seasons in the Park, Sequioa Grill at the Teahouse, and Cardero's. All their menus look similar and their food and fish - all OceanWise - will be fresh. They sell all the OP's requirements are met.

        I have only been to the Sandbar and Cardero's. I went for a birthday party and work functions. The views are definitely stunning...the seafood that I ordered was fresh and well executed. This could be the ticket.

        1. re: fmed

          I thought about mentioning these restos but it's been so long since I've been to any of them. I've never had anything worth returning for at Seasons in the Park (with the possible exception of the sunburnt lemon pie), Sequoia Grill I've only been to for brunch several times (both when it was the Teahouse and as Sequoia Grill) and it was very nice if spendy -- try to get them seated in the conservatory if they go, Sandbar is fun for drinks and appies but for dinner I would be less convinced unless its menu has changed a lot in the last two years, and Cardero's I went to so long ago I don't remember anything about it. They are all great location wise for sure with various levels of viewage.

          NOT a view resto at all but just a thought -- Bishop's. This place seems to fly under the radar (I often forget about it myself) but it is very Vancouver to me.

          1. re: grayelf

            I agree on your points about the Sequioa restos...competent food and service, but not memorable - beyond the views, I mean.

            Bishop's - It's been a while for me too...but definitely worth the recommendation. It's probably the most influential kitchen in the entire city...many chefs learned their craft here and spun off to become successful restauranteurs (eg Rob Feenie ,Vikram Vij, Andrey Durbach of Parkside, Jeff Van Geest of Aurora etc.)

            1. re: fmed

              Have moved out of Vancouver for a while but I remember there were some nice restos up in West Vancouver where the food was good and the views were spectacular. Salmon House on the Hill has fantastic views but food was a bit spotty. I think there was a Beachside (around Dundarave as well, think the chef was Carol ??). Not sure if they're still around though.
              Fish House in Stanley Park is definitely a favourite. Love going there in winter time.

              1. re: bdachow


                I think you are referring to Carol Chow at the Beachside Cafe. To the best of my recollection she has been gone for a few years [maybe to one of the Sequoia group restaurants] and I am not sure that the restaurant maintains the same name.

                It was a usual lunch time spot for us when visiting friends in North Van but over the past few years we have gone directly to the Island without stopping.

                We did fly out for a long week-end last year and trekked through the devastation left by the huge wind storm that destroyed so many trees in Stanley Park.

                We did have lunch at the Sequoia Grill mentioned by others. We too have lunched there on several occasions when it was the Teahouse. As others have said, solid if not inspiring food. Good service, decent wine list.

                Back out in West Van we have also enjoyed lunches at the Beach House at Dundarave Pier. I think they may have trouble with consistency but it has not been too bad for us and we usually end up there because our friends particularly like it...hey, beats Earl's which is often the alternative.

                In Victoria, I agree wholeheartedly with the comments about Brasserie L'Ecole which would be our no. 1 or no. 1 be favourite in the city for the food, affordable wine program and good but casual service.

                In the view category you have the Blue Crab in the Coast Hotel which affords a spectacular view of the inner harbour but I have found the food rather dated.

                The Vista 16 which is the rooftop restaurant in I think the Executive Hotel just up from the Empress was a surprising "find" on one of our last visits. Usually "view" combined with "rooftop" and or "revolving" is the proverbial death knell for food but our lunch as very good and it would be a place I would try again.

                The Marina out at the Oak Bay Marina was ok. Nice view, excellent friendly service and we enjoyed the "show" being put on my the the resident seals.

                Our one visit to the Aerie was outstanding. The view changed constantly as the pastel colours over the fjord changed as the sun set. However, it sure does get dark up the Malahat and I could without the return trip.

                1. re: Bob Mac

                  A Victoria resident's view of those comments:

                  Blue Crab: Agree completely
                  Vista 18 (darn restaurants with numbers, so confusing): great cityscape, fine-ish dining, somewhat ambivalent service
                  The Marina: Casual dining nearer to fine prices; one visit was enough

                  I have not been to the Aerie, but the restaurant I recommended (Seagrille) has the views of the (gorgeous) inlet and Malahat. They're pertty much across the water from one another, but the Seagrille is at water level, and the Aerie is on a mountain. Mytake on the Malahat: I like it better at night because there is less traffic, so you don't feel pressured to go more than 50 km/h, which makes it easily manageable. But maybe the driver oughtn't drink with dinner.

                  1. re: Bob Mac

                    Thanks for the update, I really enjoyed Carol's cooking when she was there years ago (and I was there too!). I just don't get out to Vancouver as often as I'd like to anymore.
                    So which resto's are in the Sequoia Group, if you happen to know?

                    1. re: bdachow

                      Carol is at Gusto di Quattro in North Van. Great place.

                      1. re: fmed

                        To Carol Chow's a little blurb about her in the current issue of Vancouver Magazine about her:


                      2. re: bdachow

                        Per fmed's post above: "The Sandbar, Seasons in the Park, Sequioa Grill at the Teahouse, and Cardero's" are in the Sequoia group (which sounds like it should be a biological taxonomy category!)

        2. I would recommend Monk McQueens or The Dockside Restaurant at the Granville Island Hotel. Both have nice waterfront views, reasonably priced food (not stupidly expensive) and lovely seafood.

          1. My 2 cents would recommend Lure in Victoria - view and great food. Not killer on the pocket book and nice sized portions (seafood prepared beautifully). Took my folks there a few months back and they loved it. View is facing out to the Legistalture or the Empress. Hotel setting (Delta Ocean Pointe), so it pleases middle of the road - not too stark nor too over-done. You could purchase a gift card from the hotel and give it to your folks to use for dinner (or lunch)

            1. For Victoria:

              Seafood and with a view... That would have to be Seagrille in Brentwood Bay, about a 25 minute drive from downtown Victoria. I have not been there since it was re-named, but I loved their tasting menu. It also used to have an excellent wine cellar and sommelier. It has an amazing view of a lovely inlet (Finlayson arm, I believe). It is a wilderness view, though, not a cityscape. Basically, this whole resort is absolutely beautiful, with the exterior blending into its natural surroundings.

              Again, I have not been to the restaurant in the Delta ("Lure") since it has acquired its new name, but the chef has has not changed since I have eaten there. This used to be my family's "occasion" restaurant. The chef made the best prawns I have ever tasted (with Pernod), as well as the perfect creme brulee (which many restaurants manage to screw up; although, upon reflection, that would be the dessert chef). The view is the best in Victoria because you get the water, the city and the Olympic mountains in the distance. Also, if your parents are staying downtown, it makes for a nice walk to the restaurant.

              In short: wilderness view: Seagrille. Cityscape: Lure. Great Seafood: take your pick. There are a lot of bad, touristy places in downtown Victoria (generally all of Wharf Street from Belleville to Johnson), but these two are great. As they are both in hotels, I believe it is possible to buy gift certificates from them online with a credit card.

              1. It's been a while since I've eaten here, but Ocean 617 is a small restaurant on Stamps Landing in False Creek. They have great views and try to use local ingredients whenever possible. And if your parents like driving, there's Giraffe in White Rock It's a small, cozy restaurant on Marine Drive and they also have a patio in the summer (but it can get a bit loud on Friday nights when the Harleys go down the main drag). After dinner, they can go across the street and take a walk down the waterfront boardwalk. You won't find techno at either restaurant :o)