Not that one should need an excuse for dining out but out-of-town visitors provide a special opportunity to show off our superb Vancouver restaurants, our fresh and varied edibles and our fine BC wines. For my guests from Arizona, I thought seafood was the way to start. A pleasant ten minute walk through Yaletown got us to Blue Water Cafe right on time for our 6:15 reservation. Most of the tables on the outdoor patio were already full. We debated sitting outside but the overhead heaters were on whereas the interior of the restaurant felt pleasantly cool. So we opted for a comfortably spacious booth inside.
When the sun shines in Vancouver, there is little that can beat a leisurely lunch on a patio, looking out over sparkling water. This past week I took the opportunity to lunch with friends on two restaurant patios in Yaletown, on the north side of False Creek.
The first lunch was at Provence Marinaside, on Marinaside Crescent opposite - strangely enough- a marina. It has been a while since I last dined at this restaurant, and all previous occasions, lunch or dinner have somehow been inside. But here I was, shaded from direct sunlight but feeling its warmth in the air, sipping on a glass of rosé, while I waited for my friend to join me.
There were many items on the menu that appealed, but I decided to try the seared sablefish, served with grapefruit vinaigrette, warm vegetable salad, fresh basil and fingerling potatoes. It was quite delicious. My companion's lunch was equally pleasing. I have found the food at Provence Marinaside to be consistently good and the prices reasonable.
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.
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.