Saturday, May 27, 2006

Grouse Grub - Altitudes Bistro

Now that Grouse Grind season has started, perhaps all you hard-core athletic types will be looking to treat yourself at the top of the mountain. Although I only went up by the "civilized" route the other day - a relaxing tram ride to soak up the view of Vancouver - I was still looking for a treat at the top. I was pleasantly surprised to find high quality food and very reasonable pricing in their mid-range restaurant, Altitudes Bistro. I had a beautiful roast beef sandwich and salad for only $12, and Bac'n Girl had a mushroom ravioli main dish, served with warm bread, for $16. And this was all served in an elegant, yet comfortably casual room, with great service. We sat by the window, and you can't beat the view, if it's a clear, cloudless day. We still saw some of the city lights on our rainy day. I felt like we received great value for a tourist attraction (that costs $29.95 for adult general admission). We were just up for a quick look because I had free passes. But if you're interested in dining at The Observatory, their fine dining restaurant, admission is included with advance reservation. Also, you can also get your parking reimbursed if you spend at least $10 on food or souvenirs. I went to the Observatory for a Valentine's Day dinner years ago, and was thoroughly impressed also.

Mushroom Ravioli, tomato basil sauce, goat cheese, balsamic glaze

Bac'n girl enjoyed these very large ravioli. When I tasted it, I thought it was alright, but was happy that I ordered the sandwich.

Roast Beef Sandwich,sliced whole roasted striploin with paprika rub, Dijon mustard, radish sprouts, baguette. Served with salad and vinaigrette on the side.

I really enjoyed this sandwich on a nice toasted baguette. As you can see in the photo, the roast beef was perfectly medium rare, and it was presented quite attractively with the shredded carrot and sprouts. There was a pleasant amount of horseradish in the mayonnaise too, just enough to give the sandwich a little zip. I also appreciated the placement of the salad dressing on the side, allowing for total vinaigrette control. I did not request that specifically, but maybe more restaurants should consider this as their default, to avoid the dreaded drowning of greens. It's a toss-up (haha) for me though, because when someone does toss a salad "properly", it's nice to get that consistant coating of vinaigrette all over every leaf. Personal preference varies so much though, so the dressing on the side is pretty safe for almost everyone, except those who really like their dressing evenly distributed all over. Perhaps because they do get so many active, healthy types (ski and snowboard people in the winter, and hikers in the summer), they have a higher proportion of customers who skip the dressing altogether. We were very comfortable in our sporty clothes in the bistro, and received warm and attentive service. There is a more casual cafe located on the main floor of the chalet as well, if you are looking for counter service. But a full-service restaurant is more of a treat to me. I was particularly impressed that the Altitudes staff made us feel welcome and not rushed, even though we found ourselves being the last table in the restaurant. We walked in thinking there were lots of customers, but they were actually just a bunch of Volvo conference people who had wandered over from the Observatory restaurant that they had actually booked out, which was originally our first choice. With my experience at Altitudes though, I definitely wasn't disappointed. I can always come back another day to check out The Observatory. With Grouse Mountain admission (tram ride, etc.) included with dinner reservations, it would make quite a nice special date destination.

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