In the middle of last week, there were eight of us trying to decide what to do for a good friend’s birthday that just passed on Friday. He didn’t want to celebrate at all since he hasn’t been in the mood for cheeriness about aging since his 30th, so instead of doing dinner or having a small party we decided on Sunday brunch. That’s how we ended up at Raincity Grill in the West End, right near the beginning of Denman Street by English Bay.
What’s also great about this place is there is a takeout window at the front of the restaurant, where you can order $10 Fish and Chips and get them to go while you sit down by the beach that’s only a block away. This is something I’ll definitely have to try in the summer, when I head over to watch the sunset on one of the warmer days.
I had never been to this place before, but had heard some great reviews from a few close friends (who had also been there just a week or two ago, but I had to miss out since I’d stayed up way too late and was too hungover to make it). The best thing I had heard was that you can get a $19 Prix Fixe brunch if you chose to do so. After having a massive dinner the night before, I was one of only two people that didn’t go for the option of having a lot of food during a meal (for once).
Regardless, they started off our morning by bringing us some chocolate croissants. I’m not sure if they’re usually complimentary or not, but she said that they were – from what I understood, they come as an addition to the Prix Fixe menu, but she might’ve just brought them for all of us since most of us had ordered from that anyway. Some of them were a bit more burnt almost than others, so they were a little inconsistent, but I managed to have one that wasn’t too bad.
Our server also brought some apple cider to the table to help warm everyone up. This was quite sweet, as it usually is, but it was a nice hot treat on such a blustery and gloomy day. This came in handy for some, as they forgot to bring coffee to a few of my friends until they asked a second time, so it helped tide them over in the meantime.
Mimosas are also on special for $5 if you order them with the meal – there is the option for pineapple, orange, or cranberry versions. I’m not sure how these tasted, as I just had some plain orange juice, but I was a bit disappointed that my drink wasn’t freshly squeezed for being at a fine-dining restaurant.
A few of the brunch appetizers then started to arrive as we began handing ‘un-birthday’ gifts to the man of the day. We ended up calling it his early Valentine’s Day celebration, just to relieve a bit of the pressure – it was actually the idea of a couple of friend’s there (they gave him a package of Hershey’s Kisses with his card, and we sporadically shouted out “Happy Valentines Day!” throughout the meal).
The Hazelnut Granola with honey yogurt was quite good. I only had a small bite, but besides the hint of nutty flavour, it was quite a filling starter and difficult for those who ordered it to finish without concern that the main dish wouldn’t then be overlooked – especially since we’d already had croissants!
I also tried a bit of the Salmon Crepes. Well, ok, it was just the radish that I tried (apparently a locally grown daikon or something similar). Now that was delicious! I won’t rate this one since I didn’t actually eat all of its parts, but here’s the picture regardless!
Once the mains started to arrive, my dish did so as well and I was ready to dig in after watching everyone else eat. I ordered the Dungeness Crab and Herb Benedict. I give this breakfast pretty high marks! There was quite a bit of crab added to the top, a great amount of hollandaise sauce, the eggs were cooked perfectly with the yolk still very soft, and the potatoes were cut fairly small (which I prefer) and were nice and crispy. From everything that I tasted that morning, this turned out to be my favourite item.
The French Toast with poached pears was also quite good. It didn’t hit the mark quite as well as the one that I tried at Market a few weekends back, but it also had some crispness to the outer edges, and I liked the caramel sauce that was drizzled over this one. Plus, it had what I believe to be a dollop of mascarpone cheese on the side…Mmm.
Last but not least, the Mushroom and Mascarpone Omelette. This was served with a side of green salad, topped with shaved fennel and a shallot vinaigrette. I loved the amount of mushroom that they threw in this dish, but I still found that there was too much egg versus filling. Maybe it’s just me that makes my omelettes chock full of veggies and other goodness?
Overall, I liked the idea of having a set menu for brunch, and not just dinner like so many other places do. Also, the food was quite good and was made from fresh local ingredients wherever possible, although I’d have to go back for dinner sometime to give it the true test. It was definitely a decent eggs benedict though (I still prefer the Provence benny’s though), and a nicer place to have brunch with a larger group. There are also great views of the water from inside, and a patio outside that would be perfect for lounging around with a mimosa on in the summertime.