Primal Dining at Raincity Grill

May 18, 2011


Raincity Grill prides itself in its “farm to table local cuisine” so it’s no surprise that I’ve been drawn to it for a while. They also have a pretty sweet location basically at the corner of Denman and Davie St., overlooking Vancouver’s English Bay – the most popular beach downtown, and a fantastic spot for sunsets. But I do question the direction they’re heading, based on this statement from their website:

Raincity’s continuing efforts to move in a more responsible direction has resulted in the following selection of local dishes where the star of the plates are the vegetables from our local farms.

Followed by this quote:

By designating one day a week to be meat free, you’ll be conserving valuable water, energy and land resources’ – David Suzuki

If anything, I’d say Vancouver is pretty geared towards vegetarians/vegans, and many local/sustainable restaurants in general seem to trend that way also, so the above doesn’t shock me. Nor did it stop me from ordering meat, of course! The menu constantly changes to reflect the seasons as well as general product availability, which is great. It can be kind of confusing though, because the menu at the restaurant was different than the one online, making it difficult to fully plan a primal meal beforehand.

I decided on the braised Fraser Valley lamb cheeks, served with kale, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and lamb jus, as well as celeriac subbed for the pomme purée. The lamb cheeks were delicious – very tender and fatty. And I don’t know what they did with the kale – I’m not usually a big fan of it, but it was very tasty.

My friend had the duck –  pan roasted breast and confit leg, with gnocchi, chestnut purée, pickled beets, and cooked greens. He was disappointed with the small serving size, and said it didn’t really taste any better than duck he typically has for a much more reasonable price.


Although the lamb was terrific, as much as I wanted to like the restaurant, I must say I felt a little let down. My friend’s meal wasn’t that special, and I’m wondering how much of the tastiness of mine was attributed simply to the meat rather than the restaurant (it was my first time having braised lamb cheeks). Also, the service was rather hoity-toity – the staff definitely didn’t go out of their way to make you feel welcome. And the setting wasn’t as incredible as I had imagined it to be from the outside. Additionally, the prices were steep considering how underwhelmed we both were.

Having said all that, I’m glad I tried it, and I fully support its local/sustainable approach, if not so much the vegetable-oriented direction. If you value local and sustainable fare above all else, then this might just be the place for you. For me, unless a restaurant exceeds my expectations, I don’t really feel a strong inclination to return. I also really enjoy trying new places, and one of the great things about Vancouver is its food scene – there are many superb restaurants, and everyone’s sure to find some of their own favorites haunts.

Raincity Grill on Urbanspoon

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