Vancouver - DINING & NIGHTLIFE
May 20th, 2011
He was at the helm of Lumière and is currently a judges’ darling on Top Chef Canada. So when we heard Chef Dale McKay was opening his own place, we just couldn’t wait to get in!
Ensemble's lively bistro-style room is ideal for casual gatherings and its shared plates concept makes it easy to sample as many dishes as possible. It would have been a crime not to order the Dungeness Crab Spiced Melon Soup ($9), a dish that dazzled the Top Chef Canada judges. Other triumphant dishes included the Herb Risotto ($9), a rich and flavourful little serving, the buttery Beef Shin with fries ($12), and the Pulled Pork sandwich ($8.50) that was a divine companion to a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
So that’s what being a Top Chef means…. —AG
Ensemble, 850 Thurlow St., Vancouver, 604-569-1770, www.ensemblerestaurant.com
May 13th, 2011
Wine tasting along Oliver’s Golden Mile in B.C.’s Okanagan just got even more lustrous.
Miradoro (golden view) the new restaurant perched above the vines at Tinhorn Creek Winery is definitely going for gold.
Extremely talented chef Jeff Van Geest (you may remember his late great Aurora Bistro in Vancouver) has created a Mediterranean menu that touches down in Portugal, Italy, and Spain with side trips to Morocco, all the while using locally sourced or house-made ingredients.
A chef who makes his own ricotta? That’s him. Inventive and healthy sides like whey polenta, cannelini beans, kale and parsnips keep things light, while a grilled squid salad with red fife wheat berries and grapefruit is the perfect match for Tinhorn’s delicious 2009 Gewurztraminer.
Inexpensive tapas (bowls of lemon-harissa roasted almonds, charred chorizo and octopus) are perfect to accompany a glass or two of Syrah, while the forno oven turns out hot and chewy pizza in seconds (try the shrimp/ricotta/pea shoot).
And if the food, wine and views aren’t enough for you, there’s a grassy amphitheatre below, where you can catch a live concert (like k-os) this summer.
Now that’s golden.
To see pictures of our day-trip to the winery, please visit our Editors’ Diary.
May 6th, 2011
It was tough work having to eat great food on a gorgeous spring day, but someone had to do it!
La Brasserie, Granville and Georgia
Brought to us by the beloved West End restaurant, La Brasserie’s cart does one thing and one thing only: a great sandwich. We’re talking rotisserie chicken, mouthwatering but light, with deep fried onions added for crunch, all served on a buttermilk bun ($7). Need we say more?
The Kaboom Box, Granville and Robson
The epitome of West Coast cuisine, The Kaboom Box has an extensive menu that caters to pretty much everyone. From an epic hot smoked salmon sandwich, fish and chips, to both venison and veggie burgers. Our favourite? The Gulf Island Fried Oyster Po’Boy (market price), the perfect combination of smoothness and crunch.
Roaming Dragon, location varies
The most infamous of all the food carts, this one is hard to miss. Just look for the big red Roaming Dragon truck! Although we are impatient when it comes to waiting, we will gladly stand in line any time of the day for their Korean short rib tacos (2 for $6). Why? The combination of braised ribs, sautéed spinach, mushrooms and kimchi all wrapped up in a perfect little soft tortilla.
Eli’s Serious Sausage, Beatty and Dunsmuir
Of course, we have to include a sausage, the granddaddy of street food. Eli sources his from a local, fifth generation sausagemaker, and serves it on a caraway seed bun made by a local Polish bakery. This is no ordinary hot dog cart though: Eli serves currywurst ($6), one of Germany's favourite street foods, where the sausage is served up with ketchup and curry powder.
Re-Up BBQ, Georgia and Hornby
We can’t think of anything more comforting than their Southern style BBQ pulled pork sandwich ($7). If you think you can’t finish one of these bad boys yourself, think again. It’s the real deal: smoked to perfection, messy, served with cole slaw, and cherished with every bite.
Believe or not, there’s an app for that! —AG
April 15th, 2011
Now that summer’s approaching, we’re dreaming of a trip to the Mediterranean. Or at the very least, a trip to Davie Street.
The West End’s newest Mediterranean restaurant, Laziza, puts a modern twist on the traditional flavours of Lebanon, Morocco, Greece and Italy. We sampled the tender saffron prawns ($8), sipped a strong Turkish delight martini ($6), and stuffed our faces with the carbo-loaded vegetarian koshery ($10).
Turns out it’s easy to stick to the Mediterranean diet. —KD
Laziza, 1175 Davie St., Vancouver, 604-568-9777, http://www.laziza.ca
April 8th, 2011
When out-of-towners visit, you're the first to tell them the best places to stay, shop and play. But when they ask you for a downtown upscale sushi spot, you're left more stumped than a fanny-pack wearing tourist.
Put down the Zagat and head to Hapa Umi, grown-up sibling to the fantastic Hapa Izakaya restaurants. Decidedly adult in both look and feel (think dark wood decor and large lounge area), the Japanese menu is both fresh and inventive. We stopped in for lunch and tried the featured bento box (grilled lamb, homemade potato salad, crab sunomono, beef tataki and vegetable roll) served with miso soup and rice with mixed mushrooms ($19). We meticulously made our way through each compartment and left nary a grain of rice behind.
'Cause that's how we roll.
Hapa Umi, 110-909 W. Cordova St., Vancouver, 604-420-4272, www.hapaumi.com
April 1st, 2011
But sure to be a new favourite on the international restaurant scene is Victoria Beckham’s new London eatery Priver, where guests can dine just like the sexy ex-Spice Girl. We started with a refreshing dish of lemon soup, with a tangy lemon wedge floating in a bowl of salted warm water ($45). Our main course consisted of moist flake of tuna with a delicious pea pod for texture ($80).
We finished off our meal with a half an apple topped with a light-as-air dollop of air ($55). —JN
Happy April Fools' Day.
March 25th, 2011
Vancouverites have been waiting a long time for a casual Italian restaurant like this: Five reasons to book at The BiBo.
1. Lively owners Lorenzo and Andrea (a former shipping magnate and actor/lawyer, respectively) who give the dining room lots of personality.
2. Wood-fired pizza with simple ingredients (cooked expertly by a young Neapolitan chef) that arrives hot, chewy and uncut at the table
3. Bottles, not glasses, of red wine being heartily consumed (try the 2006 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, just $38) by multi-generational families.
4. Classic Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni films (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2) flickering on the flatscreen.
5. Top-quality Italian ingredients that come with the D.O.P. distinction (translation: Protected Destination of Origin), like the melt-in-your mouth Burrata cheese.
Now that's what we call an Italian job. —SB
The BiBo, 1835 W. Fourth Ave., Vancouver, 604-568-617, www.thebibo.com
March 10th, 2011
Delis are to lunch what wine is to dinner: a necessity.
La Ghianda's rustic and quaint space is the perfect spot for Italian comfort food. The fresh and ever-changing deli menu had us indulging in a plate of orecchiette in a light sausage and pea ragu ($10) and a delectable grilled fennel steak served with a side of arugula ($10). Taking a few moments to survey the tasty sweets, we finally decided on a satisfying apple strudel.
Looks like we'll need to take an extra-long lunch—we've got a lot on our plate. —AG
La Ghianda, 2083 Alma St., Vancouver, 604-566-9559, www.laghianda.ca
March 4th, 2011
East Village Bakery is not helping our New Year’s resolutions, but it’s sure hitting the spot.
This delightful postage stamp-sized bakery serves up delicious artisan fare, from savoury goods like fresh breads, focaccias and croissants, to their sweet signature items such as the blueberry crostata and the oh-so-addictive palmiers.
Tea party, anyone? —AG
East Village Bakery, 2166 E. Hastings St., Vancouver, 604-568-5600, www.eastvillagebakery.com
February 25th, 2011
Sometimes one needs to go on a getaway to get away from old routines. If it's time to shake up your makeup, consider a wellness weekend at Whistler Creek's Nita Lake Lodge.
The brand new Ashram Spa specializes in traditional Indian Ayurvedic treatments, such as the "Udvartana" detoxification massage that had us feeling like a human chapati. A paste made from chickpea flour, barley flour and milk was the basis for the gentle exfoliation, and upward massage strokes sent blood flowing toward the heart so that internal organs are better able to excrete built up toxins.
A rainforest steam room and yoga studio complete the spa experience, while vegan meal options and an in-house Ayurvedic doctor take it to the next level.