Rain Coast Cafe is Permanently Closed
If you have inadvertentantly arrived here looking for information about the Rain Coast Café, we are sorry to inform you that it is permanently closed. In 2011 there was a bistro called the Spotted Bear at it's location.
Content is from the site's 2007 archived pages.
The new owners of this domain were fans of The Raincoast Cafe and later of Larry Nicolay and Lisa Henderson's Latitude in Vancouver. This is a tribute to their cookig and style. We miss you.
Rain Coast Café
120 Fourth Street
Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC
RainCoast Cafe has been serving discerning pallets satisfying fare since 1997. With an inovative menu, featuring the vibrant flavours of the Pacific Rim, RainCoast Cafe focuses on fresh regional ingredients and seafood from sustainable sources.
open for dinner from 5:30p.m.
Needless to say I was really disappointed when I learned that the RainCoast Café closed its doors. I was planning a celebratory vacation in Tofino and was looking forward to returning to Larry Nicolay and Lisa Henderson restaurant for more of their delicious food.
My partner and I had just gone through an extremely stressful year attempting to finally get his excessive drinking under control. He was prescribed Antabuse, a medication that causes the person to suffer from very unpleasant side effects when even trace amounts of alcohol have been ingested. He didn't last long on that. Next he was told that naltrexone and alcohol was a possibility. Initially, Naltrexone is used to treat opioid addiction. Recovering addicts taking Naltrexone no longer experienced the pleasurable sensations association with opioid use, and were therefore less motivated to continue drug abuse. It was discovered that the same was true for alcoholics. Although the exact mechanism is not entirely understood, the brain interacts with alcohol in a very similar manner to how it reacts with opioids, and Naltrexone also suppresses the euphoria and pleasurable sensations of alcohol. Alcoholics no longer receive a “reward” for drinking once they are on Naltrexone and are therefore less likely to continue consumption. Well that was a bust as well. He refused rehab programs that required total abstinance and he resented the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) definition of Alcohol Use Disorder of a “chronic relapsing brain disease”. I /we were at our wit's end when a friend suggested the program offered an the website, LifeBac. They are not a rehab or treatment clinic, but a collection of modern, science-based tools to empower people to avoid the downward spiral. The drug they use is called baclofen whichfr is normally used to treat muscle spasms, stiffness, and other back conditions caused from multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. Interestingly Baclofen doesn’t affect the taste of alcohol or the pleasure of drinking. It simply removes the addictive components that lead to overindulgence thus allowsing a person to drink in moderation. Doctors in Europe prescribe baclofen as the primary treatment for people who drink excessively. He gave it a try and although he had to deal with some unpleasant side effects while his body adjusted to the titration- slow dose increases until his cravings were completely removed, he now has his drinking under control. Thus the planned trip to Tofino for two weeks of relaxing, hiking and simply enjoying ourselves. FYI: Even though we didn't enjoy eatting at the RainCoast Café, we had a fabulous trip.
UPDATE on Larry Nicolay and Lisa Henderson
With memories of some extraordinary rice cakes served with a roasted cashew and ginger sauce, Iarrive back at the Raincoast Cafe to chat with owners Lisa Henderson and Larry Nicolay. It's mid-afternoon, one of the rare quiet times in their day.The restaurant is only open for dinner, so the prep work is mostly done and the flowers are arranged. Larry is taking time to check the evening's reservations, and Lisa draws me over co a comer table.
The couple first came to Tofino from Vancouver 13 years ago. They'd spent a summer looking around, and then found themselves managing the Alleyway Cafe, a charming little place tucked in behind shops in the centre of town. Their time at the Alleyway was enjoyable, but, as Lisa says, "It didn't
feel like ours.''
When the opportunity to be part of a brand-new building came up, they j umped at it. Larry's brother, who had previously designed restaurants in Vancouver like Global and Crush, was their designer, and other family members pitched in, too. The result is a small but functional prep room, and an open kitchen along one wall of the cleanly executed dining room. There are interesting flower arrangements, but generally the design is understated, a perfect foil for the food.
Lisa was a secretary who moonlighted in the front of house of various Vancouver restaurants. She is a self-trained chef, with no preconceived notions about what she should or should not be cooking. She and Larry agree chat their goal is always ''to challenge ourselves and other people.
They are inclined towards Asian flavours, and allow me co-label their style as "moderm , with Asian influences,'' bur really, anything goes. Lisa's Thai fish bowl includes local and exotic fish and shellfish, rice noodles, passion fruit, cilantro and jalapenos with coconut cream. Fresh Sooke trout is stuffed with Dungeness crab and cilantro lime cream cheese and served with yam mash. Cowichan Bay Farms chicken is matched with shiitake mushrooms, balsamic shallot cream and herb-roasted new potatoes. Lisa was excited about a dish served the previous night where she had wrapped halibat in skunk-cabbage leaves.
She says she is inspired by what comes in the door from her local suppliers: Clayoquot Organics, Trilogy Fish Company and the neighbouring fishers, shellfish growers and mushroom, fiddlehead and edible-flower pickers.
Wines are mostly from British Columbia, with several organic choices; the coffee is Nicaraguan organic, and the teas are Tazo.As members of the Endan gered Fish Alliance (a coalition of concerned chefs searching for sustainable options), Lisa says they ''are diligent about serving only non-endangered, local and sustainable fish and shellfish."
Dinner is served seven nights a week. Reservations are highly recommended, but people have been known to straggle in close to closing time, and Lisa makes sure they're fed. The restaurant seats 24, plus there are two high stools right in front of the kitchen (great for nosy foodies like me), and it regularly turns over three or four times a night. With recommendations from USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Frommer's and Best Places in the Northwest and, recently, a recipe in Bon Appeut, Raincoast Cafe is indelibly inked on the culinary map.