Dockside Restaurant (Granville Island)

Restaurant: Dockside Restaurant
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast/Seafood
Last visited: May 13, 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC (Granville Island)
Address: 1253 Johnston St (Inside Granville Island Hotel)
Transit: Vancouver City Ctr Stn Southbound
Price Range: $30-50+ ($25-35 mains)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 3
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4.5
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Pacific Northwest/West Coast
  • Seasonal menus
  • Waterfront view
  • Family friendly
  • Ocean Wise
  • Patio seating
  • Lounge area
  • In house brewery
  • Wine/craft beer/cocktails
  • Bar/lounge seating
  • Sunday Live Jazz brunch
  • Weekly beer tours
  • Breakfast/bunch/lunch/dinner
  • Sun-Thu 7am-11pm
  • Fri-Sat 7-12am

**Recommendations: Legendary Chili Squid, The Vetke #9

I haven’t been to Dockside Restaurant for at least a few years. It could be because it’s located in the Granville Island Hotel that I think “touristy”, but Vancouver has a lot of notable hotel restaurants. One of my favourite chefs is actually at one – see my post for Diva at the Met.

Anyway I knew Dockside had gone through renovations last year and they’re known for their in house brewery, but other than that, it’s not a restaurant that comes to mind when I think about dining on Granville Island. Everything seems to be about Edible Canada at The Market these days, but when it comes to a great outdoor patio, I’m not sure if there’s a better contender on Granville Island than the one at Dockside.

The name already suggests it. It’s notorious for its award winning patio. It was actually partially the reason I came to check it out, and I also wanted to try the new menu. The patio overlooks the waterfront, mountains and downtown Vancouver. They have a few outdoor seating options appropriate for dinner or lounging, but the restaurant closes before midnight as to not disturb guests staying at the hotel. It’s kind of too bad because it makes a great late night spot that’s just outside of downtown which is a nice change.

The food was decent and not bad, although the ambiance was more of the highlight. I just found the food predictable, but it was better than I expected. It was Pacific Northwest cuisine with a particular focus on seafood and the options were approachable and quite typical of Vancouver tastes.

The menu had some Asian inspiration and the portions were fair, but the menu reads a bit like a Cactus Club or Joey’s. There’s something for everyone so it works with big groups. It was quite pricey for what it was and for the quality of ingredients, but considering the location and ambiance, that was also a bit expected.

As a local I would likely come back for the setting, drinks and appetizers, or brunch, before I would a full dinner. However even if you don’t come for the food, the ambiance is worth the visit and the stay will be comfortable… unless it rains.

On the table:

**Legendary Chili Squid4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Pan-fried with ginger, lemongrass, garlic and cilantro $11
  • Well it started off with a hit! I enjoy calamari, but I don’t order it often unless I’m dining Greek or with a large group.
  • I ordered this based on recommendation and it was perhaps my favourite dish of the night.
  • Unlike most calamari it wasn’t heavily battered and the pieces weren’t tiny scraps of squid.
  • The sauce tasted like the regular sweet Thai chili sauce, but sauteed with fresh garlic, ginger and a bit of fresh lemongrass.
  • The squid were Vietnamese cut (scored on the top and rolled) and lightly dusted with flour before being pan fried. I actually thought they were deep fried.
  • They were nice and crispy, tender, not chewy and well flavoured with the sweet and spicy aromatic Asian sauce.
  • The sauce wasn’t anything really new, and the lemongrass was faint, but the squid was just cooked well and the dish properly executed.
  • I would have liked the cilantro to be cut up more so I could eat it with the calamari instead of having it as a garnish though.

Dockside Crab & Shrimp Cakes3/6 (Good)

  • Mango salsa, chipotle lime aioli $15
  • They were 3 mini crab cakes and there were a lot of sauces going on so it was a bit overwhelming with the crab cakes.
  • They were lightly coated with panko crumbs before being pan fried, but there wasn’t much of a crust and the crust it had got soggy from the sauce.
  • The sauce on the bottom looked like plum sauce, but it tasted like a spicy mango and lime nectar.
  • I’m not really sure which part was the chipotle lime aioli.
  • I love sweet and salty, and fruits with seafood, but the mango was either a tart green mango or an unripe mango so there was no sweetness.
  • The mango salsa had red bell peppers, red onions and cilantro and it was crunchy and tart with some lime juice for acidity.

  • The crab cakes were a bit soft, mushy and creamy rather than being flaky so it was either too pureed or the mixture a bit wet.
  • The did have a good amount of crab and baby shrimp, but the baby shrimp was I think pureed into the mixture with perhaps some bigger chunks thrown in last.
  • They tasted fine, but it’s probably not something I would order again.
  • If you like the sound of this dish I would recommend trying the Dungeness Crab Cake at Crave on Main too.

Forno Flatbread – 3/6 (Good)

  • With warm goat cheese fritter, balsamic reduction and basil pesto $8
  • If I didn’t see it come out to another table I wouldn’t have ordered it. It was huge and perfect for snacking or as a group appetizer.
  • Personally I think hotel restaurants should always serve complimentary bread and butter, but the breads here had to be ordered.
  • I didn’t expect this kind of bread to be complimentary, but I think plain forno flatbread would be a nice gesture.
  • The flatbread was actually quite good, but there just wasn’t nearly enough toppings.
  • The flatbread was hot from the oven, thin with crispy edges, and the middle was soft and chewy. It wasn’t like pizza dough, but just well made flatbread.
  • The pesto sauce didn’t taste house made or very fresh and I couldn’t taste any pine nuts in it. The basil flavour was quite muted too.
  • It was just a very basic herb spread and I would have loved a thicker layer of it because you could barely taste it.
  • The balsamic reduction also didn’t seem house made, but it was sweet and tangy and it gave the flatbread flavour.
  • I would have preferred a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and maldon salt on top to give it more flavour.

  • The goat cheese fritter was fluffy and salty and not too gamey in flavour and it was perfectly breaded and deep fried so it was still warm.
  • The only thing was that the golf ball size of goat cheese was barely enough for the entire flatbread and it needed at least 3 of them (1/2 per wedge).
  • Although I appreciated the fritter I would rather the goat cheese be sprinkled all over if that meant getting more.
  • Again, it was still good because of the flatbread, but with an upgrade on the pesto and more goat cheese it would have been excellent.
  • It was just a bit cost cutting executed in this way.

Manila Clam Carbonara2/6 (Okay)

  • Fresh clams, double smoked bacon, English peas, sauvignon blanc, garlic, egg yolk and shaved parmesan $20
  • This was almost a cross between a Linguine Con Vongole and a Pasta Carbonara.
  • This came recommended, but unfortunately it didn’t deliver to expectations.
  • I think the saddest part for me was that I couldn’t find the egg yolk.
  • I think the egg might have been cooked in the sauce or forgotten, but it was undetectable and that’s the best part of Carbonara for me.
  • The pasta noodles tasted unsalted and they were also overcooked, but I expected that.
  • I like my pasta to have that al dente bite, but unless I’m at an authentic Italian restaurant it rarely happens. Perhaps you can request it here.
  • The peas weren’t in season at the time so they were a bit powdery as well.
  • I couldn’t taste any bacon and there was maybe only a few pieces I saw, but the flavour wasn’t built in the sauce.
  • The sauce was creamy and rich, but also a basic butter, garlic, cream and white wine pasta sauce.
  • The clams were quite small and I just wasn’t as satisfied with this dish and didn’t see the value either.

Pink Rockfish4/6 (Very Good)

  • Forno roasted with papaya – lime salsa puy lentil salad and crispy chic pea $26
  • The portion was quite generous and this was actually very good.
  • I wasn’t keen on the stacking, but I can let presentation go if it’s good and it was.
  • I never see pink Rockfish outside of an Asian restaurant, so I wanted to try their version of it.
  • The lentils were fantastic and they had a nice bite and weren’t overcooked.
  • I loved the fried chick peas sprinkled on top which gave the dish crunch and great texture. That really made the dish for me.
  • The lentils were tangy from fresh lime juice and sautéed in perhaps a simple olive oil, white wine and brown butter sauce.

  • The fish was served with the skin which I was happy about and even under all that salsa it was still crispy.
  • The flesh was flaky, moist and tender although it was bland without the salsa.
  • The fish has a mild and delicate flavour so it was maybe just under seasoned.
  • The papaya salad on top had tender pieces of roasted sweet papaya with red onions, red bell pepper and cilantro.
  • I like cooked papaya more than raw, so I liked this and the sweetness of the fruit was a nice contrast to the savoury aspects of the dish.
  • It was a sweet and warm papaya salad, savoury tangy lentils and the dish had good texture despite it looking a bit mushy.
  • Under the fish there were also roasted vegetables including a carrot (not baby carrot), eggplant, squash, broccoli rabe and a red pepper.

**The Vetke #94.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Vanilla pastry cream and hazelnut praline deep fried inside bric pastry with milk chocolate $9
  • This was delicious! I’m a fan of hot and cold desserts and I would order this again.
  • I didn’t really understand the description, but I liked all the listed ingredients.
  • It turned out better than the description which is always great!
  • The dessert was a chocolaty dessert, but it wasn’t a chocolate dessert and I didn’t find it too sweet.
  • The crispy cigars were deep fried and hot and filled with a creamy thick and rich vanilla pastry cream and hazelnut and chocolate Nutella like spread.
  • The cigars were a bit doughnut like and not just phyllo sheets rolled up, so they had a bit of a doughy chew and crispness.
  • Even though they looked like churros, they weren’t sprinkled with cinnamon or sugar, or at least I couldn’t taste any if there was.
  • It was served with a milk chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts crumbs sprinkled on top, but I wish there were whole toasted hazelnuts and in the cigars too.
  • Even though the berries weren’t in season yet, I have to say they were very sweet and generous with the amount which I appreciated. It was more than a garnish.

Lemon Curd on Pistachio Short Bread2/6 (Okay)

  • Lavender glaze, raspberry coulis and dark chocolate $9 (The above is a sample size – about $5)
  • I loved the sound of it and the concept, but the end result was unexpected and didn’t quite deliver.
  • The lemon curd was curdled and a bit granular unless they intentionality added jello bits to it, so I wasn’t keen on that.
  • The lemon curd was sour and quite stiff rather than creamy and flavourful and I couldn’t taste any lavender.
  • I couldn’t taste the pistachio either even though I could see it and the pistachio shortbread was dry, crunchy and quite hard.
  • The tart raspberry coulis would have been better as just a lavender infused creme anglaise because the lemon curd was already tart.
  • Raspberry is bound to overpower lavender and pistachio too.
  • The chocolate bark was a bit out of place, but it was good and basically a fruit and nut chocolate bar.
  • Overall the components came together quite randomly and it just seemed like 3 different desserts.
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