The Smoking Dog Bistro 1889 West 1st Avenue
The Bard-on-the-Beach 2009 season has officially begun and we were off to Vanier Park to see Othello. Surfing around for restaurants close by I thought that this Bistro at 1st and Cypress would be a pleasant walk away from the Bard location. Although Kitsilano's neighbourhood Smoking Dog French bistro has been here "forever" as I learned while my dining companion regaled me with its history, this was my first time trying it out.
Our reservation was for 5:30 - early for dinner in Vancouver, as we approached the restaurant, I noticed that many of the outside tables along 1st Street were already occupied. A good sign. We were shown to the patio on the Cypress side of the Bistro and were able to get a table that was shaded from direct sunlight. Amazingly the air was still balmy. I remember the Bard opening of Twelfth Night on the same date in June last year - it was freezing cold and even with a thick jacket and a blanket I was chilled to the bone. But I thought that maybe tonight we would not even need a jacket.
Within minutes of being seated, we were chatting to our friendly waiter, whose accent declared his origin to be in France; and I was sipping a glass of a delicious white wine blend perfect for a warm spring evening.
When I first moved into my Yaletown apartment, our neighborhood Yaletown Honjin became our favorite place for take-out sushi. It is a pleasant 5 minute stroll along the sea wall and then through the park, to the restaurant. We would phone in our order, enjoy the salt sea air on the way to fetch the food, and then hurry home with the myriad aromas of freshi sushi tantalizing us. A little dash of wasabi in the soy sauce... and sea food heaven! And now when my family comes to visit, inevitably within the first day or two someone will ask "so when are we calling in the sushi order?"
It has been a while since we have had a family sushi get -together so the other evening, after an energetic Samba class when my friend suggested we go to Honjin for a bite of supper, I enthusiastically agreed.
He ordered the sushi dinner and we shared a small order of vegetable tempura. I had a small portion of local tuna sashimi (in the photo to the left) and a dynamite roll. The tuna just melted in my mouth - fantastic. The tempura was hot, fresh and crisply delicious.
Lux at Caprice 965 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC. Ph: 604-685-3189 or Reserve Online
On Saturday evening I was meeting a friend to see "Top Girls" at the Vancouver Playhouse. I decided to extend my search range for pre-show restaurants beyond the three block radius from the Queen Elizabeth/Playhouse complex, and came up with Lux at the Caprice, on Granville between Nelson and Smythe. There is major construction still going on along Granville and they have ripped up the sidewalks so by the time I walked along Granville from Georgia to the restaurant my shoes were coated with dust. The entrance to Lux was also not well marked and I nearly walked right by it.This construction is really tough on the businesses on the streets affected. Anyway to avoid the mess on the way back down to the theatre we crossed Granville and walked down Smythe thus avoiding two blocks of dust.
2029 88 W. Pender St.,
We were planning to see Antigone Unbound later at the Leaky Heaven Circus Studio above the Russion Hall, so finding ourselves in the general vicinity of Chinatown we decided to wander around and find somewhere for a casual supper. I remembered that there was a place inside the Tinseltown complex that I had wanted to check out so we took the escalator to the second floor and wandered into Kentizen. It was still early, around 5:30 and so we took a window table and studied the menu. As we were debating the merits of Japanese food versus Chinese food, the manager suggested we check out the buffet.
One look at the sushi portion of the buffet and I was sold. So we each took an attractive oblong transparent blue glass plate and helped ourselves to some of the sushi, edemame and other items.
r.tl Regional Tasting Lounge
1130 Mainland Street, Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604-638-1550 or Online Reservations
This is the second time I have eaten at r.tl but as the previous occasion was a spontaneous visit I did not have my camera with me, and I felt the attractive presentation of the dishes warranted visual rather than verbal images. My first visit was a few weeks ago: while walking back from the theatre. My friend and I wanted to continue our discussion of the performance over a light meal, and on the spur of the moment, dropped into r.tl. It was a little late in the evening for eating, by my standards anyway; from years of arriving home from work famished I am usually ready for dinner before 6 pm! But we were warmly welcomed by Alain Canuel, operations director and Sommelier, who explained the concept behind the menu. I enjoyed the couple of dishes we had so much that I vowed to return with my camera, and learn more about the regional tasting concept.
db Bistro Moderne
2551 West Broadway
Ph: 604-739-7115 or Reserve Online
In the past I have enjoyed several great dinners at Lumiere and also enjoyed eating at the bistro a couple of times. However that was ages ago before the new incarrnation as db Bistro Moderne. So even before setting foot in the Bistro my mouth was watering in anticipation of an excellent meal. Billing itself as a blend of " traditional French cuisine, New York Haute Cuisine and the bright flavours of the Pacific North West" - the place has a lot to live up to. The remodelled space is much larger and lighter than before.
Hamilton Street Grill 1009 Hamilton Street Vancouver, BC Ph: 604-331-1511 or Reserve Online
Since this is my "hood" I felt it was time to re-explore more of Yaletown's fine restaurants. We were going to the Arts Club at Granville Island to see The Real Thing but instead of re-visiting one of the places I have already reviewed and walking to the show, I decided to try the "dine and dash". No, in my lingo that does not mean leave without paying - but eating more than a short walking distance away and then zipping over the Granville Street bridge to the theatre.
The New Bohemian 3162 West Broadway, Vancouver Ph: 604-736-7576 or Reserve Online
Continuing my exploration of the dining scene in the Kitsilano area I decided to check out The New Bohemian before going off to see The Idiots Karamazov at the Freddy Wood Theatre at UBC. It has been open about a year, I was told, in the location where Fiction had been previously. I appreciated that they opened up the wall between the lounge and bar area - the place seemed larger and more open than I remembered. We recognised scenes from The Graduate projected on the wall as we entered.
Cassis Organic Bistro
420 West Pender St,
Phone: (604) 605-0429
This review covers my latest two visits to Cassis Bistro although I have been there several times before. Cassis is about two blocks away from the Vancouver Playhouse so it is very convenient for pre-show dining. On previous occasions at Cassis I always opted for their entree of Muscovy Duck braised with oranges, so I thought it was time to try their other dishes.
The last time I was there we were going to see The Drowsy Chaperone. Since we arrived early at the restaurant we decided to try their special Pre-Show Menu. They started us off with an amuse bouche, attractively presented in a long dish: sliced pickled cucumber, olives and an antipasto-like mixture. Delicious but a little difficult to scoop it out of the dish.
The first course was a half cured smoked salmon on fennel salad with basil oil which was very light and tasty. It was followed by citrus marinated sable fish with a potato pave. The sable fish was melt-in-your mouth tender and also quite delicious. The next course was smoked pork served with potatoes in a dijon jus. I usually enjoy charcuterie but this was not my favorite dish of the evening. The piece de resistance was the satisfyingly creamy, vanilla bean creme brûlee and lemon tart dessert. Overall I thought the pre-show menu was good value and well presented.
My most recent visit was prior to seeing Toronto, Mississippi, also at the Playhouse. My companion opted for the pre-show menu choosing the tomato -basil soup, the daube de boeuf served over pappardelle pasta. The dessert was a crepe with strawberries, blueberries and cinnamon, flambéed and served with ice cream. More about that later.
I somewhat self-righteously decided that three courses would be a bit too much for me after my decreased level of activity for the last 3 weeks in California so I chose the lobster bisque served with halibut cheek crepe and house made ricotta, followed by a crepe filled with duck (what can I say - I like duck), orange preserve, goat cheese and mozarella. We were also served slices of fresh tasty baguette accompanied by a puree which tasted of creamy mushroom. Very nice. A creature of habit, I sipped on Wild Goose Riesling which went well with everything.