We are the type of people who will walk by an eatery or attraction and say, “We have to check that out sometime” and it then takes us years to get around to it. It’s a particularly terrible trait when the place we’ve been meaning to check out is only a 10 minute walk from our front door, on the edge of one of our favourite places in the world. After living in the West End for almost a decade, John and I finally walked over to The Fish House in Stanley Park and within a few minutes began kicking ourselves, thinking “Why haven’t we done this sooner?!”.
You’ll find The Fish House in Stanley Park in the middle of the triangle that is formed by Park Lane, Lagoon Drive, and Beach Avenue. It’s just a short walk from the Seawall at English Bay, where sandy beaches climb up to grassy slopes which lead to the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden and groves of trees like the nesting site of the Great Blue Heron.
Surrounded by greenery, the dining room is warm and inviting with big windows, candlelight, and buttery aromas. Friendly staff offered to take our coats at the door and we were shown to our table where we met our (awesome) server Julie. While the Shrimp Festival is currently underway, we ordered from the regular menu since this was our first Fish House experience. The pages of the 100% Ocean Wise menu teased us with offerings like oysters, halibut ceviche, smoked black cod flatbread, and chowder — and those were just some of the appetizers.
We decided on oysters and Executive Chef Curtis Demyon also sent over a scallop dish to get us started. It set a great pace for the evening which was one of delicate flavours, diverse textures, and what I remember most — steamy, soft and sweet aromas.
While I was seriously tempted by the Salmon Wellington and the halibut dishes, Julie also recommended the Arctic Char so I went with that. What won over my decision was the addition “manchego and cumin potato croquette, chipotle hollandaise” — I was very curious:
Pan-seared Washington State arctic char, Manchego and cumin potato croquette, chipotle hollandaise, fresh local vegetables, Serrano chip.
The fish was moist yet flakey and the croquette was reminiscent of a pakora. Pair that with the chipotle hollandaise (which I wish there had been a bit more of) and the divinely fragrant dish made my tastebuds dance softly and subtly.
John had his eye on the risotto from the moment we opened the menu so he ordered the Salmon Risotto:
Haida Gwaii line-caught spring filet, wild mushrooms, asparagus truffle risotto.
Now usually when we dine out we sample each other’s dishes and while I handed John a forkful of my arctic char with a crunchy undercoating of cumin potato croquette, he wolfed down his risotto before I could get in a single sip of my BC wine. I assume that means he was just as pleased as I was with his dinner.
The dessert options were very tempting (like the Okanagan Buttermilk Pie and Sticky Toffee Pudding and Flourless Chocolate Cake) but we simply opted for the hand-made strawberry banana sorbet — something smooth and sweet to round out the meal.
Even by the time our main course arrived we were already talking about coming back for brunch when John’s parents visit from Iowa this month. Aside from the location, the menu, and the friendly atmosphere, I also love the history of the building:
In 1930, this building was erected, known as the Sports Pavilion, and was opened as a club house for use by the local golfers and tennis players. From 1949 to 1974 it was known as the Third Beach Tea Room and from 1974 to 1990 as the Beach House. Since 1990, it has been known as The Fish House in Stanley Park. [About]
If you’re out and about in the park, exploring the gardens, walking the Seawall, planning afternoon tea or a romantic dinner, The Fish House’s comfortable elegance makes it an ideal spot for a truly Vancouver dining experience. Just be sure you don’t wait years to visit like we did, although I’m certain we’ll make up for it with our frequent return visits.