Copper Rock Grill (Bear Mountain Resort)

1999 Country Club Way, tel: 391-7160 630am-10pm everyday


Having grown up in Victoria and having spent a fair bit of time hiking in the highlands and Goldstream, the Bear Mountain development is a little off-putting. I consequently avoided it for quite some time. So driving up to the Copper Rock Grill in the Westin Hotel at Bear Mountain felt a little like driving through a clearcut - it's too late and you just hope the landscape recovers. Despite my feelings about the aesthetic of the development, I couldn't help but be fairly impressed by the food.

The restaurant design and ambiance is overly formal for the menu, but there's a decent view (if you don't think about what it looked like before) and a large patio. The service was speedy and courteous, although a little short on a few menu knowledge details.

The prices are high, but if you consider that you're in a swanky hotel on a posh golf course, then they're not out of line. I was pleased to see a fairly comprehensive wine list, with a fair number of 'by the glass' options. The menu is well constructed, but would be better placed in a high-end pub, it seemed a little low-brow for our surroundings. Similarly, the specials were boring and not really worth going to the trouble of selling.

As for executions - we started with the crab cakes with chipotle tartar ($14). Elegantly presented, the crab cakes had been pan fried and not just dunked in a deep fryer. The volume of crab was high and the seasoning well balanced. The tartar sauce was fresh and the chipotle flavour evident without being overpowering. Most importantly, we couldn't find any rusty greens in the accompanying salad.

Patty had the Guinness short ribs with yam fries ($18). The meat was braised to the correct tenderness and the sauce, albeit not very Guiness'y, was rich with a light caramel texture. The yam fries worked really well, although their natural sugariness made the dish a little richer than it needed to be. I thought this a really good dish, but it could have used a vegetable accompaniment to balance off the intensity of the meat and sauce.

I had the tuna taco with a Caesar salad. I didn't like that it came rolled, but Patty argued that in this style of restaurant the patrons don't want to be rolling tacos. I disagreed, saying that if I'm paying $18 dollars for rare, seared tuna, I'd expect to see it  to determine quality and doneness - especially since it was, in fact, overdone. Served in a flour tortilla with spinach and avocado, it lacked any heat and generally tasted fairly bland, albeit not unpleasant. I think this dish was not well thought out in the design phase. On this fairly conventional menu, the taco is the item that people looking for something unusual or spicy will pick - it should be designed for that person. At the very least, the soy sauce and fruit salsa dips should have been punchier to provide an option. The Caesar  salad was average, but the pancetta crisp, parmesan crisp and focaccia croutons elevated it. 

Generally, the food quality was high and the service above average. If I was in the neighbourhood, I'd be likely to return. That said, I found that the development and the hotel a little socially alienating - if I was in my Sunday grubbies, I'd probably pass.


reviewed March 18, 2007