A First Date at Feast
One of the newest restaurants on the scene in West Vancouver is the lovely, rustic Feast in Dundarave. Located next to the iconic Red Lion Pub, Feast offers an upscale but approachable room in one of West Vancouver’s friendliest neighbourhoods.
I’ve lived in Dundarave for the past four years and love my neighbourhood – I can walk to the grocery store, coffee shops, wine store and florist – and all of the proprietors know me, my kids and my dog by name. Earlier last year, I heard that a new restaurant would replace The Dundarave Fish Market. Renovations took place under a veil of secrecy but all of Dundarave was watching as the dated interior of the Fish Market transformed into a warm room with a long table, accents of lime green and light fixtures with exposed bulbs that wouldn’t be out of place in an issue of Martha Stewart’s Living.
Feast’s kitchen is run by the youthful yet experienced executive chef Kayla Dhaliwal and the room is overseen by the knowledgeable and charming Rae Holland, most recently of Yew Restaurant at the Four Seasons.
Since its opening, I’ve had the occasion to enjoy many lunches on Feast’s sunny patio, candlelit dinners with friends at the long table and post yoga brunches on the weekends. Brunch is easily my favourite meal of the week; it’s leisurely and languid and it’s perfectly acceptable to drink before noon. It’s also, I realized, a great activity for a first date. I don’t drink coffee but find the idea of the coffee date cliche. Dinner is too much of a commitment and drinks can go south quickly. Brunch is the perfect meal to share with someone without feeling too much pressure because even if things don’t work out romantically, at least you’ll walk away with a happy belly full of eggs.
I was originally going to review Feast’s brunch with my editor but she was down with a post-holiday bug, so I took the opportunity to invite someone I’d recently met on-line to join me in real life. I arrived early to ensure a table with flattering lighting and an easy escape route. I’d just ordered a pot of tea when my date arrived, dashing, handsome and on time: three for three.
With two pots of hot English Breakfast tea brewing on the table, we perused the menu. Our server, Joanna, gave us some insight into her favourite items and I seriously contemplated the Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict. She also let us know that Caesar’s, Mimosa and Bailey’s with coffee were all just $5.00. Tempting, but we stuck with tea and decided on the Traditional Eggs Benedict for him, Croque Madame with house cured coppa ham, truffle mornay sauce and sunny up egg in the centre (each $15) for me.
Orders placed, we set to the business of getting to know one another. It was relaxed, flirty and fun as the room started to fill up with couples, families and ladies who brunch, the doyennes of Dundarave. I playfully crowned him The Queen for his tea snobbery and we discussed our favourite tea emporiums, books and romantic histories. Our meals arrived shortly afterwards, we toasted each other with tea cups and dug in.
My Croque Madame – the egg on top differentiates it from the more well-known Croque Monsieur – was a perfectly grilled sandwich, filled with the salty coppa and lightly accented with the truffle mornay sauce. The sunny side up egg yolk added texture and moisture to the sandwich, making each bite a little different than the last. Accompanying my Croque Madame was a delicately deep fried, non-greasy hash brown cake (aka hash brown crack). The Queen’s Eggs Benedict was cooked to order, with the eggs medium hard. We exchanged bites and I loved the lemony, creamy taste of the hollandaise sauce, the thick slice of smoked ham and the juicy texture of the vine ripened tomato. Instead of the usual English muffin, Feast’s Eggs Benedict was served atop a crispy but moist brioche. The Queen declared it one of the best Eggs Benedicts he’d ever had and I seconded the motion. A near perfect brunch, we agreed.
A couple of things I would love to see on my next visit would be a full leaf tea selection on the menu. I know that Vancouver is a coffee city but full leaf teas are also easy to serve and infinitely superior to their pre-bagged counterparts. A restaurant of Feast’s calibre should certainly consider going full leaf. And as much as it pains me to admit, I think that a green salad would provide a better complement to the rich toasty goodness of the Croque Madame, not the hash brown crack, err, cake.
After our meal, Joanna gave me a tour of the private room upstairs which can be rented out for parties and will also host Hockey Nights with drink and appetizer specials on game nights. The Queen and I thanked the staff and set out into the drizzly afternoon. A light rain fell as his hand found mine and we walked around the block discussing the meal. We both enjoyed the experience at Feast – warm, attentive service, perfect eggs and fantastic company. In fact, we’re going back to Feast for dinner this Saturday night. Whether it’s your first date or your 70th, Feast is a great place to enjoy brunch on the North Shore.
2423 Marine Drive, West Vancouver
Hours: Monday to Friday from 11:30am, Saturday to Sunday from 10am
A publicist and blogger, Pamela Smith lives in West Vancouver with her dog, Dug, and her two sons (whom she is co-parenting with the world’s greatest ex-husband). You can find her on twitter at @DivorceDoula604