Golf course restaurants generally fall into two categories: casual and accessible — the type of place you can kick back with a beer and a burger after a long round, or elegant fine dining, where guests are treated to high-end cuisine served in a sophisticated setting.
With the launch of its redesigned restaurant, Table Nineteen Lakeside Eatery, Nicklaus North is striving for the best of both those worlds.
"The last thing we are here is formal white linen; what we're trying to be is casually elegant, and welcoming to all," said general manager Michael Zuccolin.
Officially opened on Saturday, May 24, Table Nineteen replaces longtime Nicklaus North dining room The Den, the result of tremendous growth in the course's food and beverage operations over the last few years.
"I wasn't a big fan of the name, The Den, especially in summertime during the heart of our season. Coming to a den in the middle of summer didn't really work for me," Zuccolin said.
"We've been fortunate our business has been very strong, so it's time now with our positive growth, and then with a significant renovation here in the springtime to our kitchen and our dining room, to reconfigure and realign our brand to who we are."
The eatery's new design aesthetic draws parallels with Executive Chef Eric Gilchrist's focus on local — all of the furniture is either refurbished or built by Function Junction's Gavan Construction Company — to create a welcoming atmosphere that was missing from the restaurant's previous rendition, Zuccolin said.
"We've given it some new life," he said. "We've added lots of colour and warmth in there to make the room now have some identity, and it looks great. We are trying to make it a destination for someone who wants to sit on the restaurant side."
On the culinary side of things, the revamped menu includes a few favourites from The Den, along with some exciting new additions that are globally inspired albeit regionally sourced. Among the new offerings are a refreshing West Coast Albacore tuna tartare with mint, cucumber, avocado and a honey wasabi dressing; a subtle maple sake-glazed black cod; and an organic quinoa spinach salad with poached Fraser Valley free-run chicken.
"We've kept a lot of the traditional flavours, but with a bigger, expanded kitchen we're able to do a lot more, and bring that level of quality up a little bit," Zuccolin noted. "Basically, everything coming into our kitchen is fresh and sourced locally, so it's a kind of comfort food, but refined and inspiring once it's put down on your plate." One of the course's main goals over the past several years was to change the perception guests had of Nicklaus North's clubhouse, and Zuccolin believes Table Nineteen is the culmination of that effort.
"No business can appeal to the masses, but what we're trying to do is create a destination for locals to trust in delivering great value, fantastic quality and warm, hospitable service," he said, highlighting the many great deals available all summer, like a three-course tasting menu that starts at $36, a prime rib meal on Friday nights for under $20, and Locals Day every Tuesday.
And in case you were wondering, the clubhouse doesn't have a dress code.
"People know that we are welcoming. Come and hop off your bike in your spandex and drop in on the patio, it's all good," Zuccolin laughed.