A Bee-View of The Drive – The Portuguese Club of Vancouver (PCOV)

by admin - April 19th, 2012.
Filed under: Commercial Drive Restaurant Reviews, Other Topics. Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Our Vancouver B&B has been blessed recently with several South American guests, including one lovely young couple from Brazil a couple of weeks ago. In speaking with them about the Portuguese flavor that is such a strong influence in Brazilian cooking, we became quite excited about our next restaurant on Commercial Drive – the Portuguese Club of Vancouver (PCOV), located at 1144 Commercial Drive.  We’ve walked by this place for years and have been curious, but not quite curious enough to go in.  The exterior is less than inviting, appearing much more like a closed club than a restaurant open to all. But some of our guests at the Bee & Thistle have eaten there and reported their varying experiences, some positive and some not so much.

Before going to the PCOV, we checked out some of the reviews on Yelp and UrbanSpoon and were not encouraged. The first one that came up on Yelp described  “Grumpy old Portuguese men sitting watching soccer and glaring at anyone who doesn’t look Portuguese that has the gall to try to eat here”, but did also say that the food is good.  Strangely, our experience was almost a polar opposite.  We arrived at an almost empty restaurant – the only other patrons a group of what appeared to be regulars watching a game on the wide screen t.v. and having a good time. But we were warmly greeted by a very nice young waitress who, it turned out, is here from Brazil on a working vacation.  The restaurant is quite large inside, divided into two sections – one side appearing to be the  formal area with white table cloths, etc. and the other side more like a sports bar with booths and t.v.  We chose the informal side as the other area was absolutely empty.  We honestly did not spot any grumpy people and no one glared at us, that we noticed.

Our waitress immediately brought us a menu and discussed our options on wine.  We selected a halibut dish for me ($17.95) and a Portuguese style New York Steak for Michael ($18.95), accompanied by large glasses of house red wine @ $5.00 each.  The service was quick and friendly.  However, sadly, we were not blown away by our meals.  My halibut was nicely grilled but Michael’s steak was over cooked and very chewy. Both were accompanied by plain steamed carrots, broccoli & cauliflower – healthy, but not very exciting.  My veggies included plain steamed potatoes but Michael had a bit of a bonus with PCOV’s special fries. They are thick slices of potato, deep fried, which end up being kind of crispy on the  outside and soft in the center.  Probably the most tasty item on our plates.

In fairness, our experience of the PCOV was only two items off of a much larger menu, and at a time when they were not at all busy. It’s possible that the good food we read about in a couple of the reviews is available and we just made the wrong choices, or came at the wrong time.  75% of voters on UrbanSpoon have voted in favor of the PCOV, even though 2 out of the 3 actual reviews were negative. Yelp rating is only 2 1/2 stars.  However, if the service in the past was very unfriendly and bad, as mentioned in various reviews, perhaps the management took the feedback to heart. We felt very well cared for and quite enjoyed our conversation with the young server.  Would we go back?  Probably not any time soon, but that’s partly because we’ve taken on this major task of reviewing all the restaurants on the Drive, and it could take us a couple of years to get back to any one place!

One thing more that I must share, though, is what a gorgeous walk down to the restaurant we had!  The cherry blossoms on our street are of a late variety so most of them aren’t out yet, but one solitary tree is leading the way. It was like being in a fairy  land with little pink blossoms blowing around us as we walked in the setting sun.  Beautiful!