Dine Out Vancouver – The Observatory

View? What View?


The Observatory is Vancouver’s highest restaurant. Located 3,700 feet above sea level on Grouse Mountain, The Observatory is known for its view as much as its food. However, for our Dine Out Vancouver night, a cloud had decided to descend on the mountain and destroy any view that may have been there. Visibility was about 50 feet. After that, nothing but white.

Normally, dinner at The Observatory is very expensive. So expensive in fact, the restaurant waives the $29.95 per person Skyride fee if you dine there. Tickets to the ice skating rink, sleigh rides and Grouse Mountain’s Theatre in the Sky are also complimentary with the dinner reservation.

Eleven months of the year, The Observatory is a great second or third date restaurant. During Dine Out Vancouver month, it’s a really great first date restaurant because of all the complimentary perks you get for just $35.00 per person. Hell, the Skyride to the top of the mountain cost $29.95 so dinner really cost you only $5.05. After dinner, you can go on a sleigh ride, take a spin around the outdoor ice rink and then take in a Theatre in the Sky show. Add the cost of all that and you’ll come out ahead! She’ll think you spent you a fortune on her when you’re really a cheap ass! 😀

Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan and Truffles


This was my starter course, Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan and Truffles. It was paired with a glass of Pentage Pinot Noir 2004. I could tell from the first taste, The Observatory was going to be better than Le Gavroche. Even though the chef used more truffle oil than truffles, the soup was to die for and made for a great opening course.

Poached Bosc Pear and Aged Cheddar Salad


This was Sarah’s appetizer. It was made with winter greens, buttermilk cream, maple candied pecans, pear and walnut vinaigrette. The salad was extremely refreshing and surprising sweet and tangy. I didn’t think pears and cheddar can work together but The Observatory pulled it off. It was one of the most creative salads I’ve ever tried.

Grilled Rib Eye Steak


For the main course, I ordered the Grilled Rib Eye Steak with hand-made chips, Béarnaise sauce, button onions, and watercress. The chef paired the steak with a Lake Breeze Cabernet-Merlot 2004 and hit the bull’s-eye! The steak was very tender and the sauce didn’t overpower the flavor of the meat at all. Instead, it served as a balancing ingredient for the wine.

Roasted Arctic Char


Sarah’s main course was the Roasted Arctic Char with olive oil pomme puree, red pepper and basil compote. It was much better than the Wild Salmon with Sauce Vierge she had at Le Gavroche. The Observatory’s fish had more flavor and was even tenderer.

Dark Chocolate Coulant


This dessert really put the exclamation point on a fantastic meal. The presentation and plating was as good as you could get – very imaginative. I had it with a glass of Gehringer Late Harvest Riesling 2005. The pairing was as close to perfect as you’re going to get it. By itself, the Riesling was too sweet. With the dessert, it was a match made in heaven.

Sticky Toffee Pudding


Sarah’s dessert was the sticky Toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream. Again, very nice plating and presentation. Sarah almost didn’t want to eat it because it look so good. I would have loved to try it with the wine that was paired for it but Sarah didn’t order her dinner with the wine pairing.

Just like the last Dine Out, I was the only person to order dinner with the wine pairing and I’m glad I did. The wines selected for the three-course dinner were extraordinary, and at $28.00, it was almost as expensive as the dinner. However, it was well worth it.

This is the second time we have dined at The Observatory and once again, we came away feeling we got more than our money’s worth – dinner at The Observatory during Dine Out Vancouver is an absolute steal! Maybe it was a Monday and the restaurant didn’t have a full house, or maybe this is how the place always runs, but everything from the foods and wines to the service were top notch.

Dinner for the four of us came to $200.00 with tips. I would have happily paid three times that amount, and during a non Dine Out month, I would. Overall, I rate The Observatory 4.5 out of five stars. It loses the half star because of that view blocking cloud.

The Observatory on Urbanspoon

36 thoughts on “Dine Out Vancouver – The Observatory”

  1. Ryan says:

    Bring us a doggie bag next time!

    It’s 2:30am and now I’m hungry as hell. Thanks! 😀

  2. that is not fair at all, you cant knock off that .5 because of the cloud…what about all the free perks? that should be worth a star itself.

    So after the nick witkoski rating system, the restaurant receives 5.5/5

    1. John Chow says:

      I didn’t take advantage of those other perks. We kinda ate and left because we wanted to get back to my parents’ to see how Sally was doing.

      1. Jane says:

        Looked like you were in the middle of a snow storm, not a cloud…I would have made a snowman or two 🙂

    2. Alex Becker says:

      Yea the restaurant cant control the weather. unless you talk about the experience being 4.5.

      1. John Chow says:

        True, the restaurant can’t control the weather, but the view is part of the experience.

  3. Mitza says:

    You should open a blog about foods, I’ve saw a lot of posts on your blog about foods.

    Think about it …

  4. Slowly, slowly, we are seducing you into a food blog. Soon we will have you hesitantly setting one shod foot into the kitchen, digital camera in one hand, whisk in the other!

    1. You’re slick! Inserting an ad inside my comment, whoa! Do I get a cut if somebody buys one?

  5. Ed Lau says:

    The desserts are beautifully plated. The rest is rather…meh.

    I went to The Observatory awhile back and I echo John’s…observations. Excellent food.

    1. how many stars do you give it >:[

  6. Chris says:

    That looks so good…. I’m salivating & it’s only 10am. Thanks!

  7. Scott Howard says:

    I have been wanting to try truffles for a while now. I find it very interesting that they use pigs to hunt down truffles. Around Indiana about all we hunt for is morel mushrooms.

  8. Marc says:

    Now that looks like more of my style of food than the entrails…

    That looks absoltely fabulous, thanks for the pics John.

    1. Michael Kwan says:

      What’s wrong with tripe? 🙂

      Too bad you missed out on the view John. Maybe I should take my gf up there for dinner some time.

  9. ChrisB says:

    I wish Orlando would do something like this. I would LOVE to try some of the higher end restaurants here in this same fashion.

    Looking forward to the other reviews!

  10. Before long I think you will branch out and have “John Chows Restaurant Reviews” and owners will be paying you to be a food critic…

    1. Alex Becker says:

      thats an awesome job. Don’t forget wine taster.

    2. Michael Kwan says:

      John Chow dot Com: The ramblings of a dot com mogul (and the rumblings of his stomach)

  11. Tyler says:

    Now I’ve been up to Grouse for a small trip on my brithday because I’ve never been but didn’t goto dinner.

    The ride in the gondola was expensive, the theater they have there was so-so and there wasn’t really anythign else to do unless you go there to ski/snowboard etc.

    The ice rink was full, the sleigh rides were not running and to me it wasn’t work the ticket up to the top. It was snowing like mad too so you couldn’t see Vancouver.

    Though I am sure the food is good 😉

  12. derrich says:

    I’m always reading these food reviews at the wrong time. I’m starving!

  13. pop says:

    wow! I have lived in vancouver and never knew that! I’ll be sure to forward this to friends who still live there. Thanks for the information! btw, your blog is great! keep up the good work especially all the helpful info on blogging!!!!!

  14. Alex Becker says:

    John when you say hand made chips, you mean french fries? right? because thats what they look like to me

    1. John Chow says:

      Yes, it is French fry.

    2. Jane says:

      haha…I was thinking the same exact thing. In Mexico they refer to them as chips as well (different language ofcoarse)…interesting.

      1. Alex Becker says:

        I just say it because when I think of chips I think of Lays and then I think of crap.

        1. Jane says:

          Yes, french fries are much better than crap or Lays for that matter 🙂

  15. MrMike says:

    There’s nothing like complementing a good meal w/ good wine. I’m jealous as hell.

    …and now hungry too.

    1. Alex Becker says:

      Haha I still can’t decide where to eat today. And I am hungry

  16. Leftblank says:

    That surely looks delicious, especially the steak, lovely. Doesn’t seem to be quite a lot though, was it even enough to get your hunger to stop?

  17. First time I like your orders 😛

    It looks great, although I would have prefered the steak with really thin fries (I´m not sure how the are called in english).

    I´ve seen you are a big fan of wine with desert, do you always pick Late Harvest? What about some Carmenere or Cabernet for contrast?

    1. Michael Kwan says:

      Are you thinking of shoestring potatoes?

  18. Looks good. We ate there years ago and while the food was amazing as well as the scenery AND the service…the portions were teeny…looks like that has changed.

    I think it would make a better SUMMER eatery!

  19. Danny Choo says:

    I feel *very* hungry after looking at those pics.

  20. Jane says:

    hmmm, i’m comparing this one and La Terrazza, and I’d have say La Terrazza looks like it wins hands down. If it was a clear night, I might have to re-evaluate the rating.

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