Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Boathouse Restaurant : English Bay Location

The Boathouse Restaurant is one of Vancouver's own chains and there are seven waterfront locations (English Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Kitsilano, White Rock, Richmond, New Westminster and Port Moody). I remember coming to The Boathouse quite often with my family when I was in elementary school, but it sort of stopped when I started attending high school. Our Family liked The Keg more and Cactcus Club or Joey were the preferred choices in my teen years. Then I guess after a few mediocre visits to The Boathouse in my university years, I started disliking the restaurant chain. But recently, a friend mentioned he went on a date to The Boathouse and the food was decent so I started questioning why I disliked the chain to begin with.

Arriving for a late lunch but before Happy Hours on a Friday, we waited at the front for around five minutes and none of the staff or hostess were on site. I further peaked into the bar area and did not see any of the staff, but there was one seated table. As we continued waiting, my guest sneezed twice and super loud which echoed. I was thinking FML how embarrassing, but the hostess was still no where to be seen! So after waiting, I was pretty pissed because The Boathouse is a chain restaurant and most restaurant chains take pride in providing well above average service. Restaurants in Downtown Vancouver usually provide better than usual service to cater to the business clientele too.

So the last straw was when the telephone started ringing, the hostess was still no where to be seen and I decided to leave the restaurant. We scanned the area and Cactus Club or Milestones across the street from The Boathouse would have been a better choice and both restaurants looked fairly busy. However, I decided to give The Boathouse another chance because I made reservations through OpenTable and already had my mind set on visiting (for a few days too lol). When we re-entered the restaurant, the hostess was on the phone and greeted us when she ended her telephone call.

The hostess led us up the staircase to the dining room, dropped off the menus and walked away. As I sat at the window seat, I could not help but think that Cactus Club across the street has a full house because their service is pretty top notch.

The large dining room has spacious seating arrangements, but the interior is outdated and not the cleanest. The table was not clean and the cutlery were literally filthy. Who is the dishwasher? When our server arrived after a while, I asked if she could change my cutlery and she did not seem to understand why. Well trained staff would also ask my guest if his cutlery needed to be changed as well, but he used his white napkin and the glass of water provided to clean them. On top of that, I wanted to order a drink but as soon as I touched the drink menu, there was literally a cloud of dust. What the hell?

View from our window seat.
From looking for the unenthusiastic hostess to the poor first impression from our server, the service did not start off good. But as we started ordering and asking a few questions, our server opened up a bit to us. It was a bit awkward because when we inquired about the ingredients in the Whiskey Crab Soup, our server responded "uhh... crab". Umm okay. Our server was not rude or unfriendly at all, she just seemed a bit  lazy. It is like she knew the answers, but it took her a while to provide more useful responses. I like how she warned us the Crispy Fish Tacos are already considered a meal and going for the Ahi Tuna Tacos would be a better choice as an appetizer though when we asked for a recommendation.

WEST COAST SEAFOOD CHOWDER, "Fresh market fish and shellfish" ($8.99).
Rating: 3/5.
We ordered a soup each and both bowls arrived warm instead of hot. I want to assume the reason is because there was only one chef in the kitchen (from what I saw on the way to the washroom earlier) and he prepared the soups first before the Crispy Fish Tacos, so perhaps the soups were not served fast enough. I really dislike warm soup :(.

The West Coast Seafood Chowder has a rich broth along with a light creaminess, and plenty of crispy croutons. There is a fair amount of fish which tastes flaky and just cooked, and bits of soft potato.

WHISKEY CRAB SOUP, "a Boathouse tradition" ($9.99).
Rating: 3.5/5.
The Whiskey Crab Soup is from The Boathouse's Crab Fest Menu and the broth is fairly good. The soup has a creamy and rich consistency, along with chunks of crab meat and flavour. I especially like how The Boathouse provides chunks of crab meat rather than shredded.

CRISPY FISH TACOS, "Crispy cod, daikon slaw, pico de gallo, corn flour tortillas, served with sea salted fries" ($14.99).
Rating: 1.5/5.
Passing on the Ahi Tuna Tacos because I have tried them at the White Rock location, I craved for something fried and went for the Crispy Fish Tacos. The fried cod is nicely executed, exhibiting flaky and moist fish. However, only one piece is crispy and the others are soggy. Furthermore, the tortillas taste generic and are over grilled; therefore some of the sides are crunchy.

The tacos also taste bland because the daikon slaw lacks a pickled flavour and there is no refreshing taste from the tomatoes. On top of that, only one taco has a fair amount of tartar sauce. As for the fries, they are lightly seasoned but soggy. The tacos overall are disappointing and considering the sort of miserable atmosphere and warm soup, I did lose my appetite a little.

"All fresh fish are available simply grilled on a bed of roasted potatoes and asparagus with beurre blanc and your choice of sauce accompaniment".

Rating: 2.5/5.
The sockeye salmon tastes a touch overcooked and dry, but neither stiff nor extremely dry one bit. For my sauce accompaniment, I chose the mango ginger chutney which is our server's favourite and found the flavours only average. The sauce tastes very sweet (but not sickening sweet) and there is only a hint of ginger. As for the sides, the asparagus are extremely salty (which I did not mind since I rarely have overly salted food) and retain a nice crunch, and the potatoes taste soft but lack a crisp bottom.

Rating: 3/5.
My guest ordered the halibut which is just cooked and not a second over, tasting moist and not dry one bit. His sauce accompaniment is the tomato fennel relish, exhibiting a mild tomato flavour. The sauce tastes very "mild" and more on the bland side.

TOTAL: $92.25 + TIP $7.75 = $100.00.

My visit at The Boathouse Restaurant reminds me of Ajisai Sushi Bar because I had no problem leaving a less than 9% tip for two people. I am not sure if the service we received was based on the lack of business which caused low morale, but the atmosphere was kind of miserable. 

Our server answered our questions and recommended a sauce accompaniment when I inquired, but she disappeared for periods of time. She did not clear our appetizer plates for a while and usually when servers say, "be careful because the plates are hot", it always surprises me because the plates are mostly warm instead of hot. But in this case, our entree plates were very hot and our server did not even let us know. I found out when having to change the angle of the plates for a photo. Teaches me for always thinking servers do not need to disclose the temperature of heated plates… 

Also throughout our lunch, we could not find our server when we needed a drink refill and had to wave down a sous chef. He was friendly and had no problem asking one of the managers to bring over the drink. Then when our server eventually came by to clear our entree plates, we also requested for the bill which took a longer than usual time (despite that the restaurant was not busy at all). Since we were paying with cash, we did not mind that the bill process took long when our server eventually dropped by to ask if we needed the machine. But if we did need the machine, we would have minded the long wait.

- View of English Bay
- Healthy portions (I did not really overeat this time)

- Poor management
- Miserable atmosphere
- Food could be better
- Dirty cutlery and dusty drink menu

- Post on The Boathouse in White Rock [here]
- No table bread for lunch :(
- No seafood platters at a seafood restaurant
- Why is The Boathouse empty when other restaurant chains across the street such as Milestones and Cactus Club are busy?
- I submitted my experience to The Boathouse on the day of and received a follow up via telephone after the weekend. The manager wanted to confirm a few things such as if I did indeed walk out of the restaurant and walk back in, as well as if our service was non-existent. I kind of wonder why the management team just does not look back at the footage?

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 1/5

1795 Beach Ave Vancouver, BC V6E 1V3
Telephone (604) 669-2225
Boathouse on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. It is really sad that you had to face such kind of inconvenience. But you will never have to suffer like this at NYC restaurants. Today I have a planned a grand party there and I expect to have some good company holiday party ideas. Help me please?



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