September 18th, 2012
Opus Hotel has a new restaurant with a familiar face.
Fans of the perpetually booked up La Quercia will be delighted to discover its sister restaurant La Pentola, which opened in Yaletown just a few days ago. On our visit, it was already packed and for good reason. After ogling the incredible-sounding menu for the longest time, we split the thrilling Fettuccine Genovese ($12) with pesto sauce, filled with green beans, crunchy pine nuts and soft potatoes, before moving on to the main dishes. There was enough room left to devour the Flat Iron Steak ($28) with red wine sauce, topped with arugula, which was perfectly executed.
As was the Semifreddo dessert ($8), the perfect ending to a perfect meal. —Anya Georgijevic
La Pentola della Quercia, 350 Davie St., Vancouver, 604-642-0557, www.lapentola.ca
April 9th, 2012
Last year The New York Times penned a roundup depicting best bánh mì sandwiches in America, a very passionate subject, according to the hundreds of comments below the article.
If they were to pay Vancouver a visit, they might consider DD Mau, a fresh and welcome addition to the city’s modest Vietnamese sub options. Located in Yaletown, DD Mau serves up bánh mìs of the traditional kind, and of the gourmet variety like the Honey-Garlic Beef ($7), with a delightful runny egg option, as well as the slightly sinful BBQ Roast Duck ($10.80). While you’re at it, ditch the fussy frappuccino and grab a Vietnamese iced coffee ($3.50). Then stroll down the block, find a picnic spot, and enjoy our belated spring. —Anya Georgijevic
DD Mau, 1239 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver, 604-684-4446, www.ddmau.ca
March 16th, 2012
We like our Mediterranean rustic and close to home.
As nice as it would be to jet over to Siena for some Italian fare, the newly opened restaurant in South Granville that bears this Tuscan city’s name will just have to do. This little gem is one of those trusty neighborhood joints that could serve as a casual go-to with a side of Mediterranean romance. Siena serves up a charming, rustic fare with salumi and cheese boards, appetizers like the chorizo stuffed grilled squid ($10), a selection of classic and not-so-classic pastas like steak and spaghetti ($17), all of which are being inducted into my endless list of guilty pleasures as we speak. —Anya Georgijevic
Siena, 1485 W. 12th Ave., Vancouver, 604-558-1485, www.eatsiena.com
March 8th, 2012
Our highly subjective ranking of the best places to eat and drink right now:
Best Business Lunch: Hawksworth
When someone important comes to town, this is where you take them. Sit under the Damien Hirst in the bar for a glass of Henriot, then head into the elegant-yet-cool dining room. Order the apple and beet salad (a masterpiece of execution) and whichever fish or pasta is offered that day and you’ll have sealed your deal. Hawksworth, 801 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, 604-673-7000, www.hawksworthrestaurant.com
Best Yoga Brunch: Che Baba Cantina
Something about this new restaurant reminds me of my parents’ Volkswagen van (The batik? The starburst cushions? The three shades of brown?) Still, the haute hippie vibe (it’s below a yoga studio on a gentrified strip of East Van) feels right now, as does the grilled polenta topped with poached eggs and pulled pork with a side of gently tossed arugula. Bliss. Che Baba Cantina, 603 Kingsway, 604-558-1519, www.chebaba.ca
Best Lobby Bar: Fairmont Pacific Rim Lobby Lounge and Terrace
The scent of jasmine floats overhead in this lofty and bright space warmed with couches and a floating fireplace. There’s the requisite white grand piano for traditionalists, yet the vibe feels pan-Asian at this indoor/outdoor space where sashimi and oysters, rather than tea sandwiches, are the order of the day. Fairmont Pacific Rim, 1038 Canada Pl., Vancouver, 604-695-5300, www.fairmont.com
Best Dim Sum: Kirin
Views of the mountains and City Hall, white tablecloths, attentive table service: this is where chefs eat on Sunday, in rounds of 12. Crispy, spicy squid, scallop and pea shoot dumplings, plus all the dim sum favourites you know and love. Kirin, 555 W. 12 Ave., Third Floor, Vancouver, 604-879-8038, www.kirinrestaurants.com
Best Street Meat: Meat & Bread
Ok, so technically there are seats, though they are probably all full. Luckily there’s a swift turn of foodie hipsters who know their porchetta from their brisket at this smartly-conceived concept that would be right at home in Williamsburg or London’s East End. Meat & Bread, 370 Cambie St., Vancouver, 604-566-9003, www.meatandbread.ca
Best Bar Snacks: Boneta
Sure the new restaurant is a fishbowl (quite literally with walls of glass) but the back bar off Blood Alley is a lovely place to spend an intimate hour before a show, bonding over excellent microgreens, house-made octopus chips, warm bread and wines paired by the inimitable sommelier Neil Ingram. Boneta, 12 Water St., Vancouver, 604-684-1844, www.boneta.ca
Best Out-of-Vancouver Experience: Medina
Breakfast and lunch via the Ivory Coast, France and Spain (think merguez tagines and Paella), or Belgian waffles, both savoury and sweet, make this Crosstown destination a cosmopolitan hotspot. Medina, 556 Beatty St., Vancouver, 604-879-3114, www.medinacafe.com
Best Restaurant that isn’t Vij’s: Rangoli
Yes, you can wait in line for two hours to get into Vij’s. Or leave the mutton to the sheep and head to its sister restaurant next door where dishes are swiftly served by excellent staff in a modern Indian room. Black chickpea fritters and a glass of Gewürz: what else could you want? Rangoli, 1488 W. 11th Ave., Vancouver, 604-736-5711, www.vijsrangoli.com
Best Threesome: ReFuel, Campagnolo, and Campagnolo Roma
Some of the best dinners we’ve had in the past year have been from the team behind this culinary trifecta. We especially like Campagnolo for its central location and Tuesday night $19 prix-fixe, which may be as simple as fennel sausages, peppers and polenta, but perfectly so. Campagnolo, 1020 Main St., Vancouver, 604-484-6018, www.campagnolorestaurant.ca, ReFuel, 1944 W. 4th Ave., Vancouver, 604 288-7905, www.refuelrestaurant.com, Campagnolo Roma, 2297 Hastings St., Vancouver, 604-569-0456, www.campagnoloroma.com
Best Patisserie: Thierry
New, yet already evolved enough to be an international brand. Yes, you can order a glass of red wine at 9 p.m. with your Hazelnut choux: That’s progress. A Pear Charlotte purchased here will be the hit of your next dinner party (along with your pithy repartee). Thierry, 1059 Alberni St., 604-609-6870, www.thierrychocolates.com —Sarah Bancroft
March 6th, 2012
Union Street keeps delighting us.
First, chic shops, Charlie and Lee, LAND and Board of Trade pop up. Now resto-bar The Union brings communal tables and creative cocktails to the block. The newest member of the Habit and Cascade family, the Union serves the type of food that fits its location on the southeast edge of Chinatown: Southeast Asian. We love the Thai-style green papaya salad ($7), the Vietnamese-style caramelized prawn bahn mi ($7) and the Indonesian-style nasi goreng ($13). We fell hard for the savoury cocktail (yes, savoury) tom yum collins made with coconut milk, lemongrass and Thai basil ($10).
Here's one union we are happy to join. —Kelsey Dundon
The Union Bar, 219 Union St., Vancouver, BC 604.568.3230, www.theunionbar.ca
March 2nd, 2012
Tea-time martinis, artisan cheese and lunch-and-learn cooking classes: the new Victorian culinary scene in a nutshell. Our tour:
Skip the clothing boutiques and explore the great artisanal shops that feature a tasty of array of goodies to take home (or eat on the ferry ride back). Scoop up charcuterie goodness from Choux Choux and samples cheeses at Hilary's Cheese Shop. Pick up some of the the St. Clair brie (from $7). Best brie ever.
Hone your cooking skills with a culinary class at The London Chef. British-expat and Chef Daniel Hayes can show you a thing or two in the kitchen. Prefer not to get your hands dirty? Opt for a lunch-and-learn class where you watch a cooking demo then reap the rewards in the form of a delicious meal shared with your classmates at the communal dining room table. The London Chef, 953 Fort St., Victoria, 250-590-1865, www.thelondonchef.com
Cafe Brio, a long-standing Vic establishment, offers modern West Coast cuisine. Not sure what to order? Choose the Brio Family Meal a selection of six dishes chosen by the chef all served family style. Don't miss the Olive Ascolane, meat stuffed olives made by the owner's Italian mother, it's the olive for those who don't like olives (trust me!). Cafe Brio, 944 Fort St., Victoria, 250-383-0009, www.cafe-brio.com
Hit up the Bengal Lounge at the Fairmont Empress and sip the Empress 1908. This tea-infused martini that comes with a mini scone is the hotel's contemporary take on their traditional afternoon tea. Turn a couple drinks into a night out during the Bengal Affair which takes place the third Thursday of every month when the lounge reveals its wilder side. Bengal Lounge, The Fairmont Empress, 721 Government St., Victoria, 1-866-540-4429, www.fairmont.com
Old world opulence paired with top-notch service sums up the Fairmont Empress Hotel's Gold rooms. These luxe suites include access to the Fairmont Gold Lounge with delectable sweets straight from the Empress' stellar pastry chefs (macarons, tarts and more), complimentary breakfast and hors' oeuvres served daily from 5pm till 7pm. The Fairmont Empress, 721 Government St., Victoria, 1-866-540-4429, www.fairmont.com
Take advantage of Victoria's emerging culinary scene Dine Around where Victoria's top restaurants offer three course meals for $20, $30 and $40 per person. Bonus: all meals are paired with BC wines!
Dine Around Stay In Town runs until March 16, www.tourismvictoria.com/dine
March 1st, 2012
In this weather, we’re tempted to stay home and microwave a giant can of stew.
But we’re much classier than that. So we’re booking a spot at what might just be the only hipster-free restaurant on Main Street: the French Table. Their bouillabaisse is killer. It’s light and jam-packed with the fresh, seasonal ingredients that are characteristic of the new bistro’s traditional French menu (fried sweetbreads, anyone?).
We’ll leave the can openers to the hipsters. —Kelsey Dundon
The French Table, 3916 Main St., Vancouver, 604-689-3237, www.thefrenchtable.ca
February 10th, 2012
Vancouver’s new coffee revolution continues with a welcome addition to its many artisanal coffee joints.
Settled in a beautiful space on Kingsway, Matchstick Coffee Roasters serves up a mean Cup o' Joe, using Calgary’s stellar Phil & Sebastian beans. Grab a seat at one of its stylish reclaimed wood tables and enjoy a proper cappuccino ($3.25), rich and frothy, the way it was intended. Feeling snacky? Take a baguette from Baguette & Co ($2.50) or one of Matchstick’s delectable sandwiches, including the roast beef ($8), assembled with tasty protein courtesy of Save On Meats’ butchers. In a hurry? Take your goodies to go but, trust us: you’ll want to stay and partake in the coffee shop’s culture, a place to enjoy a much-needed break from a hectic day. —Anya Georgijevic
Matchstick Coffee Roasters, 639 E 15 Ave (Fraser & Kingsway), Vancouver, 604-558-0639, www.matchstickcoffee.com
November 9th, 2011
Our coffee cups runneth over.
David Hawksworth, the chef who catapulted the Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s Hawksworth Restaurant to national acclaim, has just opened the Parisian-inspired Bel Café right next door. It's quietly elegant (like his wife Annabel, for whom it is named) without actually being quiet—even on opening day it was packed. We sampled an assortment of freshly baked macarons (loved the rose and raspberry) and we’ll soon be back for some of their imaginative sandwiches (think roasted butternut squash with Asian pear and brie) and maybe some sanded almonds too (just because).
Topped off with some French-pressed coffee, bien sur. —Kelsey Dundon
Bel Café, 801 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, www.belcafe.com
October 27th, 2011
Well, it’s official: 2011 is the year of the pizza, and there is another charming new addition to our city’s pizza scene.
Settled on Main Street in the booming Strathcona neighborhood, Pizzeria Farina is a tiny gem no bigger than your favourite hole-in-the-wall. Its stark white brick interior is warmed with wood tables and shelves filled with canned anchovies and bottles of olive oil. On their large paper scroll menu: seven outstanding thin- crust pizzas, including the Margherita ($12)—the holy grail of all pizzas—and the delicious sopressatta ham topped Calabrese ($14). Extra love for the pie? Top it all off with some delicious anchovies ($2). —Anya Georgijevic
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm until the dough runs out. Pizzeria Farina, 915 Main St., Vancouver, 604-681-9334, www.pizzeriafarina.com