By Margot Griffiths
For South Beach House fans – who among us aren’t? Replacing master chef Max Briand is a heavy lift. But the news could not be better. Tennessee Briand and her husband Mark Holub have picked up the mantle, and with her parents’ blessings, they are making this restaurant their own.
Max’s retirement comes after nearly 40 years of culinary artistry in Point Roberts. He and Diana came here in 1980, looking for a new business location after selling a successful West Vancouver restaurant. The inspiration for the move was Diana’s. Her parents had owned a summer home here and memories of that beckoned her back. She and Max bought the Silver Sands Hotel for what they thought would be a temporary gig, but Point Roberts “completely charmed” them – again, who among us? And the move became permanent. Ruby White introduced them to South Beach Grocery Store, which they soon converted to a restaurant.
Life on the Point suited the Briands. Max had begun his career running a restaurant near Paris. “A restaurant in the forest,” he says. When asked what he loves about Point Roberts, Max answers without a beat, “The trees.” “He’s a nature boy from Paris,” Diana quips. And so, the Point had a Parisian chef.
From the beginning, South Beach House was a seafood restaurant, famous for Max’s gumbo. And many will remember the 80s Mongolian Grill – fill your bowl from an astounding choice of foods and sauces, choose your spices (added by Max), then onto the grill. Over the decades, in all their locations, Max and Diana have enlivened and enriched life in Point Roberts – from South Beach, to the cannery, to Rosie’s, then back to South Beach to stay. And they have given back, offering their restaurant for local fundraisers. “They were always fun,” Diana says. “Participation was never an issue. Point Roberts people filled the place, for the benefit of others.”
A favorite feature of South Beach House is Diana’s garden. Her father, a New Yorker who loved to get down to earth, nurtured Diana’s passion for growing things. Al fresco dining in the garden overlooking the ocean is one of summer’s lovely promises. Flowers of all colors surround diners in rich profusion.
Meanwhile, Tennessee has been building her own thriving business – Little House Tutoring, in the Vancouver neighborhood of Kerrisdale. After years of success in the city, she and Mark, a Vancouver native, decided to expand their careers by taking the reins of the family restaurant. “There’s something about Point Roberts that always draws you back,” Tess says.
The summer menu has always focused on fresh seafood and gifts from the garden. As daylight shortens, Tess and Mark are offering a change of scene. Working alongside her Dad on cold winter nights is among Tess’s fondest memories. “It was just the two of us, with the fire, the music and then the locals would come through the door, and it was a cozy, neighborly feeling.” It is this atmosphere they look forward to re-creating this winter. And the menu? “Comfort food,” Tess says. Sophisticated comfort, I say. Lamb shank slow-cooked for eight hours, hearty winter stews with a bottle of red wine, and – wait for it – making its comeback is Max’s legendary gumbo.
Also being considered are Saturday and Sunday brunches or lunches. Feedback is welcome about these and any ideas customers themselves may offer.
The most exciting change in Tess and Mark’s lives is the arrival of their twins. Amazingly, they are “42-week twins.” That’s right, two weeks overdue. This is a rare achievement. Lyla May and Indiana Rose, met their parents on August 1, looking “as different as two siblings can,” Tess reports. “Lyla is fair and blue-eyed; Indie’s complexion and eyes are darker – and their personalities are polar opposites too.”
“I want to raise our family in Point Roberts,” Tess says. “I want our girls to run around on the beach like I did, in a tight-knit community where people look out for other people’s kids.”
My guess is the people of Point Roberts want this too. As well as warm and welcoming dining experiences in Point Roberts’ iconic restaurant.
Visit southbeachhousepointroberts.com for winter hours and menus.