A former garrison and officer’s mess during World War II, Vancouver’s Teahouse in Stanley Park is steeped in our city’s history. Post-war, the house served as a military residence, later opening as the Ferguson Point Tea Room during the summer.
The restaurant was owned by Hungarian couple Steve and Eva Floris who escaped Soviet-occupied Hungary after surviving the Holocaust. They emigrated to Vancouver in 1949, and obtained a lease from the Vancouver Park Board to operate then-named Art Gallery Tea Room in Stanley Park. Steve and Eva sold the restaurant in 1964 and went into real estate. Long retired and more comfortable with his word processing skills, Steve later documented their war-time and displaced persons (DP)-refugee experiences in a memoir, Escape From Pannonia.
The house fell into a state of disrepair in the 70’s, later renovated and reopened in 1978 as the Teahouse Restaurant.
The Teahouse is part of the Sequoia company of restaurants, located in the choicest parts of Vancouver: Seasons in the Park in Queen E Park, Cardero’s in Coal Harbour, and The Sandbar on Granville Island.
Over 35 years later, the Stanley Park destination dining spot is still going strong with diners booking into the tea room, drawing room, conservatory, and on fine days, the patio. We were lucky to enjoy dinner with one of Vancouver’s best settings at sundown.
A quick walk just outside the Teahouse, and you’re right at English Bay, where tourists and locals alike gather for the evening show with a stunning mountain backdrop. The restaurant is set amongst lush manicured gardens including colourful flowers and palm trees that take on golden hues with the setting sun.
Clientele here is mixed between families, couples, groups, and out-of-towners. We started the evening off with an array of appetizers, including heirloom tomatoes served with both house-made hummus and marinated bocconcini, smoked salmon on cucumber slices, and gluten-free crostini with wild mushroom, parmesan and mascarpone cheeses, baby shrimp, and balsamic reduction.
Alongside a list of summer cocktails (Cucumber Smash, Spiked Palmer, sangria, etc.), we ordered the Summer Haze, the current featured cocktail. Oksana tequila is mixed with grapefruit and pineapple juices, cherries, and champagne on top. Very colourful and refreshing alongside our first bites. The cherry flavour comes right to the top of the palate and nicely complements the rest of the juices and champagne making for a great sipper.
Assistant Bar Managers Mennie, Jordan, and Rob work together with Floor and Bar Manager Sandy. They like being challenged to invent new concoctions, and often attend a Sunday bartending school to hone their skills.
BC and international reds, whites, bottled and draft beer, bourbon, whiskey, rye, scotch, liqueurs, dessert wine, and port complete the restaurant’s drink offerings.
My entrée featured wild, line-caught Sockeye salmon with crab cakes, and lemon/caper purée dots gracing the artfully-presented dish. The salmon’s crisp crust was excellent and complimented the flavour of the fish and its accompanying seasonal veggies (broccolini, asparagus, and beans, all neatly tucked into a packet wrapped with a strip of greens), plus a roasted heirloom Roma tomato. Crab cakes were moist and contained some filling but not enough to mask the crab. Most of the seafood dishes here are Oceanwise-sanctioned.
My husband was served the AAA beef tenderloin, with a skewer of four grilled jumbo tiger prawns, seasoned veggies and a roasted Roma, alongside herbed potatoes. The beef was juicy and tender, with a nice red wine demi-glace. The shrimps weren’t as tender as they could have been, perhaps grilling for a minute less would have solved the issue.
The herbed potatoes contained a lovely, soft olive oil taste. We also tried some of Teahouse’s famous (read addictive) double-baked, thin pomme frites. Once our friendly server John mentioned them, we had our order in. Speaking of service, two words: top notch.
The beef tenderloin went nicely with a glass of Burrowing Owl’s Cabernet Franc 2012, a medium-bodied red that added some spice to the beef.
Desserts came courtesy of in-house pastry chef Noel, who overseas a small but well-varied dessert menu. The chocolate Milano cake is a triple-chocolate mousse delight served atop an almond wafer crust, while the white chocolate cheesecake has a lovely cherry coulis and graham cracker crust.
We also enjoyed a vanilla bean crème brûlée, happy that we’d saved room for dessert! The crème contains vanilla bean flecks, its crackly top golden. All three choices we tried were satisfying, though we were torn between the Milano cake and the crème brûlée. Not to discount the cheesecake—it too had a lovely, soft taste with a juicy amount of cherries on top.
The Teahouse in Stanley Park is located at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park and is open for lunch Monday to Friday, 11:30 am to 4 pm, dinner seven nights a week from 4 pm to late, weekend and holiday brunch, 10 am to 3 pm, and small plates on Saturday and Sunday, 3 to 4 pm.
Check out their Sunday night prime rib dinner, where for $27.50, you can order AAA slow-roasted prime rib with seasonal veggies, or choose the three-course option for $35, including Caesar salad, prime rib, and a piece of that amazing chocolate mousse cake.
There’s metered parking outside and down the road, but this romantic spot is also easily reached via bike. The Teahouse is ideal for hosting visitors, or for simply getting through a busy afternoon and winding down in our city’s own gorgeous backyard.
We were guests of the Teahouse in Stanley Park for the purpose of experiencing the restaurant and its ambiance.