March 19th, 2010
To justify splurging on those extremely high Louboutins, you wear them everywhere. But when your pals want to go for pizza, you feel a little too Posh.
No need to de-Loub for Charlie’s. The new Yaletown resto-lounge serves up gourmet slices in a slick setting. Seat your posse at the long communal table with deliberately mismatched chairs and order three 14-inch pizzas to share: the short rib topped with horseradish cream, smoked salmon sprinkled with goat cheese, and duck drizzled with truffle oil (all $25).
Major slices and major shoes—that’s amore.
Charlie's, 1265 Hamilton St., Vancouver, 604-568-6685, www.charlielovespizza.com
March 18th, 2010
A tapas bar in Blood Alley named for the hired goat that leads livestock to slaughter sounds gruesome, but it’s actually very toothsome.
Judas Goat is the new Gastown gastro-venture from Sean Heather and Scott Hawthorn, the same smart twosome behind Salt. The space is pint-sized (seats 28) but spiffy with bright yellow stools and a bold black and white mural by Robert Chaplin. Take a date there for a pre-show nibble and order the warm lamb cheek wrapped in Savoy cabbage and white truffle oil ($8), smoked paprika and lemon sablefish with Israeli couscous ($9) and potted prawns with pistachio butter ($7).
Just be sure to tell your party that following you down a dark alley means they’ll get dinner, not become it.
Judas Goat, 27 Blood Alley, Vancouver, 604-681-5090, open Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
March 1st, 2010
One too many pints at a few too many Olympic venues has us pining for a proper sit down meal.
To cleanse our palate of overpriced beers, we pulled up a bentwood café chair to a white tableclothed table at Cork & Fin. The name of the new brick-and-beam Gastown restaurant spells out its best offerings—good glasses of wine and well-priced seafood. Anticipating small portions we ordered a feast of scallop ceviche ($12), mussels in a bath of cream, bacon and white wine ($14), Dungeness crab mashed potatoes ($9) and snapper ($13) to share, and shamefully, were too stuffed to finish the generous, delectable spread.
Plenty of fish in the sea, indeed.
Cork & Fin, 221 Carrall St., Vancouver, 604-569-2215, www.corkandfin.ca
January 29th, 2010
Chinatown is changing. First, there was the Fortune Sound Club and now, a cool new brasserie called Bao Bei.
The name means “precious” in Chinese, and it’s indeed a special spot. Warm and eclectically designed with cool vintage accents, like a wall of silver platters, it serves up well-balanced cocktails and top-notch traditional bites. We took a seat at the bar, and knew at once a woman was in charge (that would be former Chambar barkeep Tannis Ling) as soon as we saw the handy purse hooks. Double happiness was had with an order of pork potstickers ($6.50) and mantou ($9), a steamed bun stuffed with braised short rib, scallions, pickled cucumber, roasted peanuts and hoisin sauce.
As for what to drink, “The Best F@#*&$# Pina Colada You’ve Ever Had” ($12) is as fun to ask for as it is to sip.
Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, 163 Keefer St., Vancouver, 604-688-0876, www.bao-bei.ca
January 28th, 2010
Should Madonna and Jesus (as in the pop icon and her male model companion) come into town and want a plush private room to dine in with their disciples, we’ve got just the place.
The Moda Hotel now has a secluded spot for dinner parties and important meetings. With gold high-back chairs, marble flooring and a grand, hand set chandelier from Italy, the sexy round-shaped room is fit for a star, but reservable by you. It seats 12 and serves food and wine from the Cibo Trattoria menu.
Book it soon and you’ll have beat the Material Girl to the table.
Moda Hotel private room books through Cibo, 900 Seymour St., Vancouver, 604-602-9570, www.modahotel.ca
January 22nd, 2010
Vancouver’s hottest temple of Thai food, Maenam, just refreshed its menu (and our cocktails) as we pulled up our chairs for a sneak peek.
Still on are the crispy, battered B.C. Golden Mantle oysters ($8), lest there be riots in the mean street of Kitsilano. We recommend the hot and sour Sloping Hills pork soup ($16 for two), the Jungle Curry of sable fish ($14) and the perfectly balanced Burmese Curry ($13).
With refreshing cocktails like the lamyai with gin, cilantro and kaffir lime, and modern bamboo walls, we predict this temple will draw the faithful.
Maenam, 1938 W. Fourth Ave., Vancouver, 604-730-5579, www.maenam.ca
January 18th, 2010
Third time's the charm? If you love Hapa Izakaya, then yes, yes and yes.
The newly unveiled Japanese restaurant buzzes with energy, the service is seamless and the offerings include favourites like the Ebi Mayo (tempura prawns tossed in spicy mayo, $7.75) and the hot stone Ishi-Yaki rice bowl mixed right at your table ($8.80), plus an extensive fresh sheet (pictured) with dishes like Tai Herb Salad (cured Japanese snapper on a mikuni salad with citrus dressing). For a dressed-up sake cocktail, we recommend the not-too-sweet Pear Sake Tini ($9).
Finish off dinner with a scoop of Black Sesame Ice Cream ($4), and you've got yourself a Hapa ending.
Hapa Izakaya, 1193 Hamilton St., Vancouver, 604-681-4272, www.hapaizakaya.com
January 15th, 2010
It’s a hockey night on Saturday and you’re headed downtown with your ice man to take in the game. Nix the overpriced burgers and beer, and before Luongo get Lupo.
The Italian eatery at Hamilton and Smithe has gotten a new lease on life. There’s a new chef and a new look—light, white walls, warm woods and modern art—which has the 1800s heritage home looking clean, classy and cozy.
And there’s a new menu of modern Italian dishes like prosciutto, caramelized onion and arugula pizzetta ($12) and wild mushroom risotto ($16), which pleased both our palate and pocketbook.
If no one scores on Luongo tomorrow night, you have the Italian to thank, both on the ice and in your belly.
Lupo Restaurant, 869 Hamilton St., Vancouver, 604-569-2535, www.luporestaurant.ca
November 23rd, 2009
These brisk, blustery days have us craving a hot bowl of chowder. Or how about 10?
This Wednesday, 10 local Oceanwise restaurants, including C, Go Fish, Coast and The Refinery, put their best seafood chowders to the test at the Chowder Chowdown. In the apt setting of the Vancouver Aquarium, you get to join the judges in sampling the fare, as well as quench your thirst with brew from local beer makers.
Ale and all the seafood chowder we can eat makes us happy as clams.
Chowder Chowdown, 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 25, Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, tickets $35 online only at www.oceanwise.ca
November 6th, 2009
Say hello to Yaletown’s newest see-and-be-seen spot, Society.
Inspired by L.A.’s dining lounges, the latest Glowbal Group venture is a mod mix of luxe and laidback. Tables on the dining level are covered with white linen tablecloths then topped with brown butcher paper and lit by fuchsia Murano chandeliers from above. In the cocktail lounge upstairs, masculine leather library chairs overlook feminine roundabout chaises upholstered in pink velvet. And the unconventional menu marries opposites too, like bourbon milkshakes ($8) and Lobster Shepherds Pie ($18).
This is one unstuffy society luncheon that will leave you stuffed.
Society, 1257 Hamilton St., Vancouver, 604-629-8800, www.society-grg.ca