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.


Ildi H Vancouver, Ca
Re: Raincoast Cafe
It’s been 5 yrs since we've been to Tofino and we're finally going back next week! I'm looking at all the restaurants and checking menus. Raincoast Cafe was excellent when we were last there, but I haven't seen any reviews about it. Definitely planning a trip to Norwoods in Ucluelet and probably the Schooner for old times sake. I need to choose between Spotted Bear and Long Beach Lodge. Which would you choose? I think we'll do our own cooking one night and have to see if we can get Jim's roasting oysters direct from his house. Atleast we did 5 yrs ago. Can't wait to hit the beach again!
OK I'll answer my own question haha! The Raincoast Cafe is gone and its the Spotted Bear bistro now. I'm not loving their menu so I guess we'll try the restaurant at Long beach lodge. I do remember we ate there 5 yrs ago and didn't think too highly of it a the time. The menu looks good tho.

Rain Coast Café
120 Fourth Street
Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC
Phone: 250-725-2215

After 12 years in business, Tofino’s excellent Raincoast Cafe is closing

2008 From the Westcoaster | https://scoutmagazine.ca/

TOFINO — A critically acclaimed Tofino restaurant will close it doors at month’s end following nearly 12 years in business.
The RainCoast Café, which has received positive reviews in publications like the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Magazine and Best Places in the Northwest, will hold its final dinner service New Year’s Eve.
“It’s had a good run,” said Larry Nicolay, who co-owns the café with partner Lisa Henderson. “Our hearts in Tofino, but we have to do different things for the family.”

Best of luck in Vancouver Larry and Lisa!

Dec 30, 2008 at 12:40 pm
We wish Lisa and Larry well on their future plans. raincoast was one of our favorites in town. I believe there is another restaurant going into the space with a different name, possibly someone from Vancouver?

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.

RainCoast Café
open for dinner from 5:30p.m.


2008 bcculinarytourism.com

Elegant, simple and seasonally devoted: the RainCoast Café is as unobtrusive as it is treasured by locals and tourists alike. When Chef Lisa Henderson and Larry Nicolay first opened the doors in 1997, neither anticipated the success that followed.

Now in its tenth year, RainCoast Café continues to follow the changing season as ardently as ever, serving up surf and turf as fresh as the fields and waters that surround Tofino. Early proponents of the Endangered Fish Alliance and OceanWise before their time, Henderson and Nicolay make sustainability both delicious and intimate with the menu shifting to accommodate fresh inspiration regularly.

An Asian influence presides over many of the dishes, as does a relentless creativity that Chef Henderson inspires in her tightly numbered crew. Showcasing the bounty of the Pacific Rim while adhering to conscious sourcing, RainCoast Café has been richly received by locals and tourists alike for both its intentions and delicious innovations.

Winning Tastes: Cold Smoked Salmon on wonton crisps, Wild Chinook Salmon with maple/miso/wasabi glaze, Fresh Pacific Halibut with a sake, mango, lime sauce, Pad Thai, Local Spot Prawns sautéed with plum wine and ginger.

Breakfast: No
Lunch: No
Dinner: No
Average Cost (Per Person): $$
$ = Less than $20 $$ = Between $21-$40 $$$ = More than $40
Wheelchair Accessible: No



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.


Latitude brings bistro style back to Main


Larry Nicolay and Lisa Henderson at Latitude, their new restaurant, on Vancouver's Main street. Sablefish with kale, fennel and buttered beans is one of their dishes.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun

What Larry Nicolay wants is sacrilege. I wanted to shriek out: "No!"

Nicolay and his wife Lisa Henderson recently opened Latitude, the newest comer on Main Street, a smart, affordable restaurant. The bling-iest part of the room is the bar of white Carrera marble on the counter and sides.

While I'm fretting about marble's delicate nature, Nicolay's saying he can't wait until it's stained and worn, and he's not worried about its pristine beauty. "I want patina. I want this place to age like those places in France. Someone, please stain it with red wine," he said. Someone, please! Slap 20 coats of sealer on it, I say.

Another item of visual interest is the back wall, interesting enough to draw you in for a close-up. It's a mosaic of Douglas fir tiles, each with a circle of red wine stain (stamped on with a wine glass). So what's up with Latitude and red wine stains anyway?

Henderson and Nicolay returned to Vancouver after running RainCoast Cafe in Tofino for about 10 years, a place that brightened my visits to the town. (It's now called Spotted Bear Bistro, operated by Vincent Fraissange, most recently the sous chef at Vancouver's dearly departed Chow restaurant.)

Latitude brings the couple closer to family; in fact, Nicolay's brother and sister are part of Cascade Room and Habit (still in recovery mode from a fire), also on Main Street.

Henderson is in charge of the kitchen at Latitude and Nicolay manages the front. The menu reflects their love of South American flavours but takes detours to the Mediterranean as well.

Similar to their outlook at RainCoast Cafe, the menu tries hard to stick to sustainable, organic foods.

Under starters, soccas (chickpea crepes) and chickpea fries (very much like panisse) take us to sunny Nice; a large serving of ceviche and an avocado and mango salad with spiced pepitas (pumpkin seeds) zips us across the Atlantic to Latin America.

The lamb shank, slow-braised in a Malbec sauce, is fall-apart tender and very tasty.

The paella, with tomato arborio rice and a lovely bunch of seafood -- spot prawns, mussels, halibut -- as well as house-made chorizo, was very hearty and the seafood, very fresh.

We expected flank steak (with chimichurri sauce) to be hearty as well, but it was a modest serving, too small really for a main dish; however, it was tender, delicious, organic and local.

Halibut with avocado crema, a quinoa fritter and butter roasted radishes was also delicious.

I wondered if Henderson would have South American arepas (cornmeal flatbread), which I love, and they're coming. She's tweaking the recipe.

Henderson's menu is earthy and served bistro-style with the sort of quality lost on Main Street when Aurora closed last year. Appetizers are $8 to $15; mains are in the tight budget range at $16 to $20.

The wine list backs up the food with a nice selection of well-priced Pacific Coast and South American wines as well as hard-to-find B.C. wines, like the Twisted Tree Tempranillo, Pentage Cabernet Franc, Seven Stones "Speaking Rock" Pinot Noir, Averill Creek Pinot Gris and Orofino Vineyards Gewurztraminer.

Review published July 23, 2009.
Editor’s note 10/25/10: Habit Lounge reopened in September 2009.
Overall: 3.5