Quite some time ago, Emme and I brought someone I shall just call Techie up to Horseshoe Bay… purely for the sake of doing something different, and to get out of Vancouver. (Does anyone else ever feel like they just need to get away from the city?) It wasn’t a particularly great day, but the weather was fair enough and it was a good time to escape from the ho-hum routines associated with being stuck on the West Side. We were stuck for where to go for lunch, not particularly wanting to visit the Boathouse (the overall quality in all of the Boathouses seems to be taking a nosedive over these past couple of years – and I’m saying that based on more than the one visit I wrote about before) and settled on Olive & Anchor since the menu seemed promising, offering something each of us would be interested in eating.
It was empty when we stepped in and were seated. As I said, it wasn’t that nice of a day and on top of that it was a weekday so only a few people were milling about the village. I think only two or three other tables became occupied over the hour or so that we were there for. Anywho, the ambiance is quite nice and the restaurant is nice and bright, thanks to all of the large windows that allow you to look out over the bay and water in the distance. (The restaurant is farther away from the water than the Boathouse, which of course is pretty much sitting on the water, but the setting is still pleasant.) Fewer diners makes for less noise, which I’m sure everyone can appreciate, though I get the feeling that this place comes more alive at night and on Fridays, as it is equipped with a bar and the interior gives off a classic “pub” sort of feel to it. Since there were so few people, you’d think the service was amazing (what with three people waiting on a relatively empty restaurant) but… it really wasn’t. The servers talked to each other the entire time, making it hard to get their attention sometimes and making it take waaaayyy longer than it should have to actually order in the first place. The waitress we had was a bit catty and impatient, but at least our food came pretty quickly after we ordered. (Well, again, that should have been a given anyway seeing as we were probably their first customers of the day!)
Techie surprised me by going for the Pulled BBQ Chicken Burger… He usually goes for beef! The menu describes it as having nacho cheese melted on top, butter lettuce, tomato, sautéed mushroom, crispy onion straws, avocado salsa, chipotle aioli. Anyway the flavours were good! The sauce wasn’t too sweet – more “smokey” and BBQ-appropriate, in my opinion – and the chicken was tender as opposed to chewy (which would be characteristic of being overcooked, of course). The chipotle aioli added a nice extra kick and dimension to the burger, although the avocado salsa was scant and thus unnoticeable. The “crispy onion straws” were nice and crispy, as the name suggests, at the beginning… but became soggy pretty quickly, which was weird. I thought they could have been more generous with the cheese, honestly… Other than that, Techie enjoyed the Gumbo he chose as the accompaniment to his burger (it was the special of the day), although said it didn’t taste strongly of anything but tomato. Emme thought the cilantro on top looked rather… aged. I would have to agree. But other than that, it wasn’t too bad at all.
Emme went with the special of the day, which was a Mexican-themed Beef Wrap with plenty of hot, gooey cheddar cheese and chopped green onions and red peppers and supposedly salsa and guacamole. The beef was really great and the star of the wrap; it was beef chuck, kind of like what I got at Meat & Bread a while back and cooked just as well. If there was guacamole in the wrap, though, it was hidden really well – or maybe the cheese just… outcompeted it in terms of being tasted at all. Although the presentation was great to begin with, the wrap did fall apart a bit as Emme ate… which is fine, as long as you’re not wearing white or on a date or something. She had one of their standard salads on the side, with the only comment about it being that the carrot shreds were a nice touch, as were the scatterededamame. Everything tasted fresh.
As for myself, I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala, which you might think is stupid since we weren’t at an Indian restaurant (and perhaps that’s why I got edamame thrown on top of my dish, haha). BUT! And that is a big ‘but’… this was truly a great dish. The masala [sauce] was really flavourful and sang of fresh spices and was just altogether awesome. I wouldn’t say it was 100% authentic tasting, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious. The chicken was cooked perfectly, like it was for Techie’s burger. My only complaints were that I wished it were just a bit spicier (but this will obviously depend on how spicy each person likes their food!) and that there were more cilantro. (I asked our waitress to bring more cilantro after she served us our lunches, actually.) The shredded carrot on top was kind of weird, but… evidently the chef likes to put carrot shreds on top of lots of stuff, since I saw other dishes coming out of the kitchen (for other diners) that also were topped with shredded carrot. The brown rice on the side was pretty bland and actually wasn’t basmati rice, which would have been more appropriate in my opinion, and could have benefited from being cooked in some spices like turmeric (for flavour + presentation) and ground cumin or something.
Some other stuff came with my dish, too: Cucumber Raita, Pear Chutney, and Pappadom. Nothing to write home about, really. The pear chutney was my favourite of the two “dips”, and wasn’t overly sweetened, which really allowed the pear flavour to shine through. I thought they could have done something to make the raita stand out a bit more – maybe add an acidic ingredient and freshly chopped cilantro – but as it was, it was mostly just plain yogurt with a tiny bit of cucumber mixed in. Maybe I would have been more appreciative of it had my dish been spicier, hah. It was my first time having pappadom and this one was super crispy, but tasteless unless used to scoop up some of the curry (umm are you ‘allowed’ to use it for that?) or chutney. Guess that’s what it’s there for: scooping stuff.
Overall it was a good dining experience. I would go back. My biggest complaint of all – aside from the rather poor service – would definitely be the prices. Yes, the food here is good and maybe even great, but the food isn’t so outstanding that the prices are justified. Then again, I suppose you are also paying a bit for the setting when you go to any of the places that have some sort of view of the water… Even if people go for the food or the ambiance, though, the service could really use some work.