October 9th, 2013
While we can all appreciate a night out crammed into a sweaty bar, these days we find ourselves choosing our venues based on whether there will be room for us to sit down.
The Emerald, a new Chinatown supper club, is making sure that everyone has a seat, and is encouraging us to park and get comfortable. With large tables best suited to groups, a spacious layout so you can’t hear your neighbour’s conversation, and a killer list of classic and modern cocktails (from $7), this is one spot you won’t want to leave. Featuring a menu full of Old Vegas inspired favourites (think Spaghetti and meatballs, Chicken Parmesan, and a homemade Peking Duck), they don’t take any bookings past 8 p.m. – because they expect you to stay.
And stay you will, because the booths are comfy, the lights are dimmed, the cocktails are delicious, and by 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, there’s no way you are giving up that seat. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
The Emerald, 555 Gore St., Vancouver, 604-559-8477, www.the-emerald.ca
P.S.: The Emerald also offer Vegas Style Breakfast Buffets which includes a Make Your Own Ceasar cart. We’re sold.
September 12th, 2013
Dolly Parton and dive bars: Music City can convert any city girl into a bona fide honky tonk woman.
If you’ve been watching ABC’s Nashville then you might recognize the Hutton Hotel. Frequently featured on the show, this boutique hotel is a luxurious place to rest your head after a busy day breaking in your new cowboy boots. Both eco and dog friendly, the Hutton Hotel is packed with country glam; practice your best Carrie Underwood impression under the rain shower and then dash the 10 minutes down to Broadway for some good time honky-tonk. 1808 West End Ave., Nashville, www.huttonhotel.com
Live life like a country song with a trip out to The Loveless Cafe. It has the down home, Southern cooking you’ve been looking for, complete with a plate full of biscuits and homemade jams to start. Breakfast is served all day in case you were out all night boot stompin’, or gather your friends for a family style meal anytime. While you wait for your table, pop into the Hams & Jams Country Market for a delicious cup of coffee on the house. Now, that’s Southern hospitality. 8400 Tennesse Hwy, Nashville, www.lovelesscafe.com
No trip to Nashville is complete without a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Go beyond the exhibits and buy a museum membership to gain access to the Poets and Prophets and Nashville Cats series, honouring the songwriters and session musicians who have helped create today’s country superstars. These behind-the-scenes looks will give you the inside scoop (and gossip!) on country royalty. But don’t forget to add on a side trip to the RCA Studio B where Dolly Parton first recorded “I Will Always Love You.” Because when it comes to country music, Dolly knows best. 222 Fifth Ave. S, Nashville, http://countrymusichalloffame.org
While major acts roll through Nashville on a daily basis, it’s the up and comers that truly make Nashville a music city. Cause A Scene Music is the place to catch a glimpse of stars on the rise. Check their schedule for house concerts featuring hot new bands and singers. Mingle with them afterward and find out what their song really meant. As a bonus, you’ll get to see some stellar music venues a little off the tourist radar. www.causeascenemusic.com
August 3rd, 2012
Wine from a bottle? That's so 2010.
From San Francisco to Vancouver, the wine-on-tap movement means fresher wine by the glass, less recycling, and for you and me, and more choice. Working with dozens of B.C. wineries, the FreshTAP program at Vancouver Urban Winery has names you know (Nichol, Laughing Stock, Joie) plus a delightful house Sauvignon Blanc from its own Roaring Twenties Wine Co label available for purchase by the bottle ($14.95) or case.
Now open to the public Monday-Saturday, the 7,000-square foot industrial-chic 1920s space boasts a custom 36-tap wine tasting bar (pictured, with owners Steve Thorp and Mike Macquisten).
Twenty-dollar tasting menus include five 1-inch pours of wine, with a tasting board of local meats, breads and cheeses to complement them. Swing through the fun wine shop for Union Wood Co cutting boards and other rustic wine accessories, or sit back and watch the ins-and-outs of the local talent, keeping a sharp eye out for the charming Ryan Holmes, whose Hootsuite tech empire is headquartered right next door. Won't you be my neighbour? —Sarah Bancroft
Vancouver Urban winery, 55 Dunlevy St., Vancouver, 604-566-9463, www.vancouverurbanwinery.com
For more photos, please visit our Editors' Diary.
May 4th, 2012
Oysters and wine. Is there anything better?
We know the secrets to the good life. As does Todd’s on Sixth, an unassuming off-Granville Street café that turns into an oyster joint every Thursday and Friday night after 4pm. The chalkboard menu displays fresh catches of the day, from Royal Miyagis, Lighthouse Points and Summer Breeze oysters ($2 each). Aside from raw, Todd does phenomenal cornmeal panfried oysters ($3 each) for those craving a little crunch. Served with homemade bread and wine, it’s simple fare to remember. —Anya Georgijevic
Todd’s On Sixth, 1529 W. Sixth Ave., Vancouver, 604-568-0640, www.toddsonsixth.com
May 30th, 2011
You know what live music venues in this city have been lacking? Dumplings.
Until now. The Electric Owl has just opened in the space that once housed Main Street’s American Hotel. And it is virtually unrecognizable. The 8,000-square-foot venue is home to an izakaya-style restaurant, sake bar, and cold beer and wine shop. But that’s not all. The space centres around a stage that showcases international acts and some of Vancouver’s finest new music.
Finally! We can catch a show, scarf down a midnight snack, and pick up a bottle of sake all in one place. —KD
The Electric Owl, 928 Main St., Vancouver, http://electricowl.ca
November 30th, 2010
Like your bourbon sours as stylish and your barmen?
For your next big bash, hire the boys of Amy Elliott Cocktails. Friends since grade school, Larry, Josh and Adam have 15 years combined experience working behind bars, including George. They come with their own sleek, all-inclusive mobile set-up made of mod hexagons from Belgium and dark wood serving pedestals they sketched themselves. At a recent event, we sampled some of their libations and can testify to their good 'tending.
But who’s “Amy?” Real last name unknown, she was Larry’s childhood neighbour who moved away after they shared a first kiss. Aw, we’ll drink to that.
More information and bookings at www.amyelliottcocktails.com
May 14th, 2010
The devil on one shoulder is coaxing us to stay out late again while the angel on the other begs us to stay in and play Scrabble.
At new Gastown joint Guilt & Company, we can satisfy our angels and demons. Situated in the brick underbelly of Chill Winston, the bar and live venue serves up boozy drinks and classic board games into the wee hours.
Check out their free comedy nights on Wednesdays (while you play chess) and order yourself a “Lying Eyes” cocktail ($12), which comes with a Polaroid picture of you and your crew.
And if Trouble is what you’re looking for, they’ve got that game too.
Guilt & Company, 1 Alexander St. (downstairs), Vancouver, 604-288-1704, www.guiltandcompany.com
February 24th, 2010
Wonder what the Burton snowboarders are up to this week? Why they’re practicing their swan dives in the rooftop pool at The Keefer, a high-end residence hotel just opened in Chinatown.
Each of the four floors comprises its own super-suite, with views over the classical Chinese gardens to the south and mountains to the north.
Rounding out the fun is the glass bottomed pool in the penthouse, specially commissioned art by Douglas Coupland, plus a sexy “Apothecary Bar” at street level serving up drinks made with Chinese medicinal herbs and tinctures.
We’ll take a dose of that.
The Keefer, 133 Keefer St., Vancouver, 604-688-1983, www.thekeefer.com
July 8th, 2009
Marilyn would say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and we’d agree, only our Diamond looks good and serves up drinks too.
The bar, in the classic, cool sense of the word, is a Gastown gem right out of the gate. As soon as you ascend its dark staircase, nab the far corner table that gives a prime view of the Gassy Jack landmark, as well as the interior bedecked in brick, custom diamond wallpaper and a bit of tropical verdure.
Make the cocktail menu your personality test. Broken into boozy, refreshing, delicate, proper, notorious and not so boozy sections, with icons of the glass they come in, we turned out “refreshingly tall and short on notorious” thanks to signature drink Colin’s Lawn ($7) combining sake, vodka, Kaffir lime, mint and soda. To ensure we didn’t turn scandalous, we filled up on above par bar snacks like handmade pork and shitake gyoza ($5) and citrusy rock cod ceviche ($12).
Looks like we've found the perfect place to mine for a flawless sparkler. Huge rock, anyone?
The Diamond, 6 Powell St., Vancouver, www.di6mond.com