Brentwood Seagrille

849 Verdier Avenue, tel: 544.2079

The Brentwood Bay Lodge (where, for the sake of transparency, I used to work as a cook) has overhauled their dining outlets, combining their fine dining restaurant with their pub, to make an upscale 'seagrille.'  I'd call it a fancy pub. Only time and the balance sheet will tell, but it seems like a good bet to me. I liked the former Arbutus Grill, but it wasn't a very accessible space atmosphere-wise and the market didn't appear to be there.

They've nicked the best sellers from the fine dining menu and made them part of the dinner menu for the pub. At the same time they've fluffed up the pub menu a bit, while keeping the core pub menu (pizzas, burgers, appies). I laughed when I saw the calamari-Caesar salad. Both were hot sellers, so why not combine them into one massive grease bomb? OK, other than a few things like that, the menu looks good and has something for everyone.  The wine list has been substantially paired down, but for a pub, it's fantastic.

As it was a beautiful day, we sat on the patio. The lodge has a huge patio and it has a fantastic view. Not very environmentally friendly, but very comfortable, they have a lot of patio heaters for cooler days.

The service started out OK and we got our drinks quickly. Unfortunately, after we put in our food order it went rapidly downhill. For a first course we ordered ceviche. Quick-cured fish -- it shouldn't have taken 30 min. When it arrived it was attractively plated with nice large pieces of halibut and scallop. I liked the simple presentation, light flavouring and garnish of pickled daikon. Patty was less of a fan and complained that it was boring.

By the time we got our main courses, people who had arrived after us were finishing their food and leaving. It was 90 minutes between when we sat down and when we got our main courses. The server didn't acknowledge it until we were around the 80 minute mark. Never mind the simplicity of the order. Patty ordered the prime-rib burger with fries and I ordered the tempura prawns. It arrived without apology or explanation. The burger was tasty and the bun was above average. The fries were tasty, but the ketchup portion was small and inadequate for the amount of fries served. I ordered the prawns because I knew them from the former Arbutus Grille menu and was wondering if they'd changed them. They were a little less fussy in presentation, but were carefully cooked and the tempura was nice and fluffy. The chipotle mayo could have been a little more acidic, but overall they we're above average for a pub.

By the time we finished our food, we were in a hurry to leave. It took a while to get the bill, but that wasn't really a surprise after the rest of the service.

From a customer perspective, I think the new menu and concept are winners. I think the kitchen is probably running around like a chicken with it's head cut off on a busy night, but hey, I don't work there anymore. The service was crappy and I'm not even sure why -- I know they're capable of more. I was, however, happy enough with the food and the atmosphere to give the service another chance.

reviewed July 29, 2007