How have I not been here before? I asked myself the question as I sat at a corner table, snagged just in time as another party paused for a split second too long, in the bustling, otherwise completely full dining room of The Bakehouse, Dundarave’s emporium for homemade fresh baked goods and their natural derivatives, including sandwiches, soups, and salads.
I regularly frequented the old Edgemont Village location, relishing in particular weekend brunch on that great, tree and bush shrouded patio, when a table was available. Come to think of it, getting a seat at The Bakehouse has always been a challenge, not due to a paucity of them but rather because the place is constantly busy. It must be a nice problem to have. As I tucked into a piece of one of the greatest pies I’ve ever eaten, it became clear that The Bakehouse has earned this problem.
OK, so I guess I should explain that pie comment first. It was something I ordered on a whim because I liked the look of it, but truthfully, I’m much more of a savoury food guy and I had arrived at Bakehouse seeking sandwiches, not sweets. However, the pie, lemon buttermilk with raspberries, was just incredible. The pastry was flaky and rich, the filling absolutely perfect in its marriage of creamy, slightly tangy buttermilk with tart, fragrant lemon and also tart, juicy berries. I put on my best poker face as the slice, ostensibly picked up to share with my wife DJ and two daughters, became smaller by the second as each of us at the table realized just how good this thing really was.
I had taken a rare weekday off from work, affording me a chance to visit The Bakehouse, which is only open for breakfast and lunch, closing every day at 4 p.m. While it is also open on weekends, memories of the brunch chaos from Edgemont years had likely subconsciously kept me away from this place on Saturdays and Sundays. The crowd in the packed restaurant was varied, from older folks in larger groups to construction workers on a lunch break. Patrons order at the till from a sizeable menu printed on a board on the wall. Pastries are on display on glass partitioned shelves and my youngest daughter noted that some holiday baking was already available, training her eyes on a gingerbread man with buttons of purple and orange Smarties.
I asked the staffer at the till to recommend a sandwich and she suggested the Charbroiled Chicken on Focaccia, which surprised me given the breadth of the sandwich list, which also included Meat Loaf with tomato chutney, Oven Baked Brie with avocado and cranberry, and Shrimp Melt on curry baguette, but ultimately I heeded her insider advice, adding a double espresso to my lunch, along with a kid’s Grilled Cheese on Rainbow Bread for my youngest, kid’s Mac & Cheese for her older sister Blondie (there is a Adult Mac & Cheese too, with Asiago, Swiss, and cheddar cheeses), while my wife DJ went for a Bocconcini Panino, also, on focaccia. We rounded out our lunch with the aforementioned pie (which I cannot recommend enough) and two gingerbread men, along with a final take-home treat, a sticky, heavily caramelized Cinnamon Bun.
My chicken sandwich, which was topped with a fragrant, bright green almond pesto, transported me back to the late 1990s, when chicken on focaccia was de rigueur. The textures were pleasingly familiar and the interplay between the subtly charred flavour of the chicken and fresh toppings of tomato and cucumber created a balanced sandwich, with a richness imparted by Swiss cheese. It was a filling and complete meal in its own right, though for my tastes I would have enjoyed something salty to accompany the sandwich, a dill pickle or pickled peperoncino, for instance, or even a few potato chips.
DJ’s veggie focaccia sandwich, which was grilled, was actually my favourite of the meal. A drizzle of balsamic reduction gave the sandwich a welcome touch of complexity and acidity, nicely enlivening the creamy, melted bocconcini and fresh ripe tomato.
My youngest delighted in her rainbow-grilled cheese, the fresh, dense bread boasting bright streaks of blue, purple, orange, red, and yellow, and containing a generous portion of stringy, melted cheese. Blondie’s mac and cheese was generously sauced with a well-executed, homemade mornay sauce, coloured pale orange with cheddar cheese and served with two sticks of raw carrot.
The cinnamon bun was decadent and sweet, soft and heavily glazed, sort of a like a spice laden doughnut.
Breakfast, which includes a range of egg-based dishes, healthy fruit options, and delicious breads, is served daily from 8 a.m. Quiche, pot pie, and chili round out the lunch offerings.
Our lunch, including the sweets, coffee, tea, and juice, was $52 before gratuity.
The Bakehouse, 2453 Marine Drive, West Vancouver. Bakehousedundarave.com. 604-925-3031.