I can see how the Shaughnessy Restaurant may be a little out-of-the-way, despite being on one of Vancouver’s main thoroughfares, Oak Street. It’s nestled right into the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, with little to signify that there is indeed a restaurant here! Nevertheless, I can see its location being perfect for a romantic dinner after or before strolling through the gardens. For maximum effect, do so in the summer for the flowers, or in the winter for the light show. I was only here for the food, so didn’t get to check out the gardens, but there’s a brand new visitor centre that looks to have some interesting architecture, so I may have to return one of these days.
I ordered the Paella, a rice and seafood dish with mussels, clams, scallops, chicken, and chorizo. I’m a huge fan of these seafood medleys; I always order bouillabaisse, cioppino, gumbo, and the like wherever I see them. This wasn’t quite as satisfying as those rich stews, but the paella’s saffron-scented rice served as a solid backdrop to mediate the delicate flavours of the fish and the boldness of the chorizo.
Continuing my forays into the world of beer, I jumped on the Shaughnessy’s beer special that night, which was an Erdinger Weissbier. This beer falls into the Hefeweizen category, but honestly, I can’t tell the difference between this one and a generic light-bodied pilsner. It lacks the “sourness” of a lager and the bitterness of an ale, leaving it highly carbonated, smooth, and refreshing, although bland. It’d be a good drink to sip on a sweltering hot day, but if it came to that, I’d go with a soft drink. When dealing with beer, I prefer something with a little more ‘oomph’.
Despite the Shaughnessy Restaurant’s charms, being surrounded by a beautiful botanical garden, the food is nothing groundbreaking (though tasty), and there are other restaurants I’d choose over it at the same price point (mid-20 entree). If you’re visiting Van Dusen, a meal here might be the perfect cap to a romantic evening out, but otherwise, there’s no reason to return. Seasons in the Park is a superior restaurant in a similar setting.
5251 Oak St