The Grouse Grind. Is it world famous? Or is it just a regionally known torture device? I hope everyone remembers the late, great Canuck Rick Rypien? Pound for pound, in my opinion and that of many others, the greatest pugilist in NHL history. At 5'10" and 180 LBs you might not have expected Ryp to take on men 6'7" and 260 LBs, but he did. And we beat them up. Google it! Ryp once did the Grouse Grind, with a group of Canucks prospects, in 37 minutes flat. The rest of the up and coming NHL'ers laboured across the finish line a full 13-23 minutes later with most crossing around the 50-60 minute mark. World class athletes put to shame. I did my one and only attempt at the Grind in around 90 minutes. Surely I was with a slower group and waited when maybe I could have gone on, but I was, at that time, so grateful for the water breaks and frequent stops to lament our existences.
A scenic, round trip ride on the Grouse Mountain Gondola will run you $44, a year long pass for locals $130, but a ride down, after afflicting yourself to Mother Nature's Stairmaster, is only $10. That's why when you are reclining on Altitude's amazing, absolutely amazing, patio you see yoga pants and hiking shoes to your right and left. People who just burned millions of calories are putting them back on with, a lot of the time according to our gracious server, Altitude's fantastic Caesar.
This is where our culinary experience begins; with a couple Caesars basking in the sun. It has become a must at JennChanPhotography to sample a restaurant's Caesar. We give Altitudes offering a solid 8/10 on our patent-pending Caesar Scale. As we're enjoying our second round, as I mentioned they were very good and a JCP tradition so you gotta do it, our first course came out. I got a Roasted Tomato Soup with Avacado Yogurt and Cilantro which pairs seamlessly, memorably, with a Caesar. Sweet yogurt coupled with tart notes from the roasted tomatoes and cilantro. One of my favourite childhood meals was grilled cheese and Campbell's tomato soup. Altitudes tomato soup makes Campbell's, though excellent and still an occasional indulgence, seem like garbage. Rotting garbage on a sweltering August day. That's some good soup! Jenn ordered the Szechuan Prawn Rice Bowl. The prawns were very plump and flavourful, the Jasmine rice was fresh and the dish was devoured happily.
Our main courses came out accompanied by a lovely Jackson-Triggs Sauvignon Blanc from the Okanagan Valley and a Granville Island IPA. An aptly name Grouse Grind Salad, mountainous, a combination of couscous, mint, tomato, cucumber, chick peas, feta, and avocado and a full order of the Altitudes BBQ Ribs with broccoli coleslaw and yam fries. The ribs were tender, the BBQ sauce was sweet and tangy and quality of the beef was excellent. I will go back for the ribs, maybe I'll see you there!
It is difficult to discuss Altitudes Bistro without noting it's positioning atop Grouse Mountain overlooking the beautiful City of Vancouver. The views are incredible! Absolutely world class! During the 2010 Olympics, though no events took place on Grouse, all the major news networks set up shop on Grouse because the backdrop is extraordinary. Vancouver is voted, year after year, the most liveable city in the world. It is revered the world over for its combination of mountains, which at Altitudes you find yourself perched atop, the beautiful Pacific Ocean, gleaming, modern architecture and lush green landscape. From Altitudes you can see all of it. From the green peninsula of the unique American enclave of Point Roberts in the distance, the enormous outcropping that is the University of British Columbia, the huge Vancouver airport sitting below sea level in a marshy delta and the rest of the Fraser Valley stretches out before you. If you go with an experienced Lower Mainlander you can learn the topography, history and layout of the lush valley. Altitudes is a must see for locals and tourists alike!