Come for the patio, stay for the pasta

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

West Vancouver eatery offers views into the kitchen and onto the beach

Mia Stainsby

Chef/Owner Dino Renaerts of Beachside Forno enjoys a meal on the restaurant’s water-view patio. Renaerts, who has worked at the Georgia Hotel, West, Bishops, La Gavroche and William Tell, has over 24 years of experience in the culinary business. Photograph by: Les Bazso, PNG, Vancouver Sun


Beachside Forno

1362 Marine Dr., West Vancouver 604 926-3332

www.beachsideforno.comOpen daily for lunch and dinner; brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Overall: 3 1/2

Food: – 3 1/2Ambience: – – 3 1/2ervice: – – – 3 1/2 Price: $$

$$: $50 to $100

$$$: more than $100

Since Beachside Cafe in West Vancouver closed several years ago, new restaurants and chefs came marching in, one by one.

The last was Crave, the bro to another on Main Street. The last time I was there, dining on the Ambleside water-view patio, actors Anne Heche and partner James Tupper were doing the same, while fellow diners pretended not to notice.

The new place, Beachside Forno, has chef Dino Renaerts become partners with West Van power couple Paul Chalmes and Barbara Inglis. (The trio also run Fraiche, a higher-end restaurant, levitating on a lofty West Van hillside.) Chef Renaerts was previously the executive chef at the Metropolitan Hotel.

Like Crave, Beachside Forno aims to be casual with an array of comfort foods. Prices for main dishes are between $12 and $18.

The kitchen’s been totally renovated and a brick forno oven installed. The glass wall to the street has been defrosted. Now you can stand on the street and stare into the working kitchen, if you can do that without looking too creepy.

Renaerts comes with 24 years of culinary cred. He’s done the rounds at the Georgia Hotel (before reconstruction), West, Bishop’s, Le Gavroche and William Tell.

At Beachside Forno, you can cobble together a tapas meal from a nice array of appetizers if you want to go that route. There are big salads that would serve as a meal. There are pizzas, burgers with various proteins, sandwiches and pastas. But entree-style dishes with the triad of protein, starch and veggie are absent. You will find them, perhaps, as a special.

Of what I sampled, the pasta category is the strongest. I can’t say the food is consistently good; a lot of what I tried needed tweaks.

With the new forno oven, I’d like to be able to say the pizzas are killer, but whoever made mine didn’t time it right. It was pizza crust interruptus. The pale crust looked more Easy Bake Oven than blistering brick forno. However, the prosciutto, arugula, pecorino topping with reduced balsamic drizzle was good. Had the crust been crisp and blistered, I would have liked it a lot.

My pasta, as mentioned, was very good. It was linguine with seafood, herbs, garlic and a white-wine sauce that coated the noodles just right. The seafood was fresh and I really enjoyed the dish. Fish and chips were cooked nicely with lovely halibut inside. Forno-baked oysters with barbecue sauce were not exciting, but tasty.

Some dishes didn’t create sparks. Crab cakes and Vietnamese fishcakes and chili-lime sauce had sparkle in the Vietnamese salad but the fishcakes were dense and the crab cakes didn’t taste much of crab.

The halibut in halibut burger is processed into an uninspired fish cake. I would have preferred a nice filet tucked between the buns (which were bland). Saltspring Island mussels in kaffir lime and coconut curry needed more oomph; it was more coconut water than milk and the curry seemed ostracized. Seafood chowder with cream, corn and fresh herbs featured great fish but it, too, was a little too watery.

Desserts needed tweaks. A half-dome cheesecake came with what looked like frozen strawberries; ricotta lemon doughnut balls were fine; I saw through the kitchen pass, the accompanying ice cream being scooped from what looked like a Breyers brand container.

The wines are really nicely selected, with a selection of hard-to-find B.C. vintages.

All in all, I’d go back for the pasta, the patio and a great glass of wine.

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