Meeting Chef Simon McNeil at Dockside


Granville Island Market is where many Chef’s go for inspiration. I have it right on my doorstep, not to mention a kitchen with a fabulous view…I’ll be here for a while.

At a Meet the Chef event at Dockside restaurant in the Granville Island Hotel, I had the opportunity to mingle with other “foodies” and chat with Chef Simon McNeil as he explained and prepared a few dishes on his new menu.  With a big smile, a friendly demeanor, and patience for “paparazzi” photos he was a great person to be hosting such an event.


Chef McNeil, who has been a chef for many years, has recently joined the Dockside forces and is ready to showcase his culinary prowess through carefully thought out dishes and a great kitchen staff.

They have revamped the menu since he has been there, from sources, to dishes prepared. Dockside is now 95% ocean wise with the one exception being their prawns. The reason for this is that they require jumbo prawns for a few of their dishes, which aren’t readily available in Vancouver except during the short-lasted spot prawn season. What we were tasting that night didn’t include prawns anyhow.

The small plates served that night showcased the variety of food that Dockside has to offer including scallops, beef tenderloin, chicken, macaroni and even macaroons.


Scallop with a citrus sauce and tomato salsa


A sea of forno roasted pacific snapper fish filets with fresh mango salsa, rice pilaf, and saffron beurre blanc


Beef tenderloin glazed with smoked cherry, port and natural juices served with a Irish Dubliner macaroni and cheese

If you’ve never had Irish Dubliner cheese than you are in for a treat. The sharp flavour that it brought to this creamy sauce combined with the tender, semi-sweet beef tenderloin put me (and seemingly everyone else) in to sensory overdrive. I think I even saw someone lick their plate while I went back for a second helping.


Chicken on a yam cake with Okanagan Tree ripened peach preserve (on the regular menu it will be stuffed with Triple Cream Brie)




Shortbread, macaroons, chocolate caramels, sugared nuts and a pink piece of textured chocolate

After sampling Chef McNeil’s food, we were given a tour around the hotel brewpub as well as the opportunity to sample many of the beers. As a beer snob and someone eager to explore microbreweries in the Lower Mainland, I  happily tried all of them. As expected, I favored the heartier beers like the Pelican Bay Brown and the Old Bridge Dark Lager. That said, the Jamaican beer, a light fruit beer blended with hibiscus, had a nice flavour and on a hot spring or summer day I can understand why it is reputably one of their top sellers.


dockside-beer-tourI was impressed by the fact that the hotel brews their own beer in the first place, as I haven’t came across a hotel brewpub since my last visit to Victoria and my drunken night at Swan’s. To that point, I believe they may just be the only hotel brewpub in Greater Vancouver.


Although enjoying the beer I was more focused on the wine from Joie Farm that night. Both of the wines being poured were delicious, with the Joie 2009 PTG pairing well with the tenderloin and the 2011 Noble Blend pairing well with the seafood and poultry.


The Joie 2009 PTG is a blend of 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Gamay with the Pinot Noir bringing the fuller body and the Gamay bringing the fruitiness.


Their 2011 Noble Blend is a blend of Riesling, Gewürtztraminer, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc and Schoenberger, and was fruity, crisp and refreshing.


Beyond the food and customer service, a fantastic thing about Dockside is their patio which boasts fireplaces, comfy loungers, and spectacular views of Vancouver. I could see (and did see) myself drinking a lot of wine out there.


Meet the Chef events are a great way for the public to have a real dining experience, as there is something to say for knowing the individual who prepares the dishes that you are enjoying. Being able to put a face to, well, a plate, goes a long way in the gastronomical journey of eating out. If you get the chance pop in to the restaurant and say hello to the team of 26 chefs working with and learning from Chef Simon McNeil. As a team they consistently work to provide guests with a pleasurable dining experience as they showcase their own talents and the creative genius of Chef Simon McNeil.

I firmly believe that some of my greatest knowledge came prior to my professional culinary education. Early restaurant jobs that taught me scratch cooking and basic techniques have always stayed with me. Much of my philosophies and cooking styles point back to what I learned from my first mentors as a young cook.


For more high resolution photos check out my gallery on Flickr.


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