The Arms Reach deserves its spot near the top of the North Van restaurant list on Tripadvisor. This bistro looks and feels casual, with patio seating, lots of locals, and a lovely water/ mountain view - but it offers a fine dining experience. The menu is varied and includes many interesting and creative "foodie" options. For example, they have an expansive wine and cocktail menu. I tried a "Shaketown" cocktail (named after the old shake cedar shingle mills in Lynn Valley). It had cedar infused whisky along with lemon thyme syrup and soda. It was unique and refreshing. The menu also includes a number of before and after dinner drinks with maple syrup.
My wife and I shared a tasty cheese plate and a tomato and cheese salad. My wife had a pasta dish (with lots of fresh basil and tomato). She asked for the pasta without the sausage; the kitchen responded by adding extra prawns. I had a melt in your mouth grilled beef tenderloin. It came with perfectly roasted cauliflower, crispy pomme frites (fries) and a black truffle aiole for dipping. My only quibble was that the fries were oversalted for my taste. However, given the very accomodating vibe in the bistro, I am confident that I could simply request no salt on the fries next time.
Our server, Gina, was one of the better waitresses we have had in any establishment. She was pleasant, informed, helpful - and was able to stike a perfect balance between attentive and unobtrusive. In response to my questions, she described how the bartender uses cedar chips to infuse the whisky. She was able to list the ingredients in the truffle aiole (made in house). This information was not shared with the pompus self-importance that defines many foodie restaurants - instead it was almost as if a friend or neighbour was answering a question about a dish they served at a dinner party.
Given the drink and small plates menu - this is definately a place where you could drop in for a light snack on the patio while visiting Deep Cove. However, I heartily recommend this bistro as a dinner option for north shore residents and visitors.
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