The Pavilion is Prince Rupert’s “newest” restaurant, having opened its doors at the beginning of June. I put “newest” in quotation marks because this isn’t a new restaurant per se; rather, it is literally the second incarnation of The Olive. Posts on the official Olive and Pavilion Facebook pages confirm this:
“We are expanding our business into a second location [. . .] Our current menu will be served at ‘The pavilion’” (from The Olive FB), and: “This business is not new in the market, we already have a restaurant named ‘The olive’ & this will be the branch of it. We will be featuring a most delicious menu, wine and much more” (from The Pavilion FB).
Thus, while it’s tempting to simply write “see my earlier reviews of The Olive” for my thoughts on this place, to do so would be a significant disservice to The Pavilion. Even though, at base, we’re just dealing with a name and location change, such is nevertheless enough to merit fresh thoughts. Why? Because this re-birth of sorts addresses most of the concerns I had about The Olive – I mean The Pavilion – when it was nestled inside the Pacific Inn.
In my reviews of The Olive, I made it fairly clear that I had no major issues with the food. In fact, I found it to be quite exceptional, especially the lunch and dinner services. Some of you may recall I raved about the salmon shrimp piccata – it was and is a personal favourite. My big issues, at the time, had to do with the service (which did improve in subsequent visits) and the general atmosphere – or lack thereof. The space afforded to The Olive/Pavilion at the Pacific Inn was, and is not, the most inspiring: The walls are an unappealing light yellow; there is very minimal natural light; and, the space is small. In short, it’s a very minimalist type of look. To be fair, there isn’t a whole lot The Olive/Pavilion can do about the general space. Their predecessor suffered from the same problem. I’m sure the location hurt them traffic-wise. That’s why I think this move and re-branding of sorts is important – it transcends a lot of these issues.
So, at the beginning of June, The Olive 2.0 – I mean The Pavilion – was born. It inhabits the space formerly occupied by Stiles Place. In one respect, this was a smart move because it will likely increase the customer base while concomitantly improving the restaurant’s profile and presence in the community. In this regard, the early returns look good: During the few times I’ve visited, the restaurant has been either at or close to capacity. But how much of this is just “new restaurant excitement” in Prince Rupert? The Pita Pit, when it opened last year had line-ups out the door for its first couple of weeks. Now, when you go in there it’s like a ghost town. It’ll definitely be incumbent upon The Pavilion to keep this early momentum going and, with the new location, I’m sure they have a decent shot at it.
Now, a brief comment on the physical space. The new – much larger – building is, without question, a massive improvement over the limiting space of The Olive. While there are still elements of the former tenant visible (the Stiles “S” outside and engraved on glass walls inside), it does not distract or detract from The Pavilion. If anything, the modern look developed by Stiles Place helps out here – it gives The Pavilion a healthy shot of character and a casual yet refined atmosphere replete with a beautiful ocean view, all of which lacked at the original Olive location. Dining here you feel like you’re partaking in a culinary experience not to be missed.
The food: Without getting needlessly wordy, it’s good – very good, in fact. The Meatball Manchurian appetizer, stuffed with mozzarella, was an excellent start to a fine meal. The meatballs were perfectly executed – tender and flavourful – and beautifully presented. And, as I expected, the salmon shrimp piccata was again the star. Combining elegant presentation and beautifully cooked salmon, the dish is a fantastic synthesis of style and taste. I also tried the Surf & Turf, which was also very nicely done. The dish was simple and straightforward in presentation, but big on flavour. The lobster was delicious and the steak was perfectly seasoned and cooked to order. In short, the setting of The Pavilion is matched by its food quality.
Service: During my first couple of visits I admit that service was a bit spotty, but I attribute this to the place being very busy + a bunch of new hires. The one transplant from The Olive, Charla (?), is very efficient, personable and competent. I’m sure the new hires will get better with time.
RECOMMENDATION: In architecture a “pavilion” is defined as “a subsidiary building that is either positioned separately or as an attachment to a main building.” In a certain respect, then, naming this establishment “The Pavilion” makes sense because it is an addition to an existing business; however, it is also very clear that The Pavilion is not a subsidiary and is instead the main restaurant of the businesses. The new space is well laid out, modern, full of character and provides for a high level dining experience. While it was just a name and location change, The Pavilion has moved well beyond The Olive. Highly recommended!
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