I have been a fan of German Rieslings for years. Raised eyebrows, quizzical or even somewhat patronising looks and comments about sophisticated palates and full bodied red wines would wash over me. I just smiled to myself as I picked up my Rhine or Mosel Riesling at the BC Liquor Store for a very reasonable price, and prayed to Dionysus and Bacchus (depending on whether I felt more Greek or Roman that day) that these wines would not become too "fashionable."
"Let them drink Chardonnay", I thought. And they did. And I bought my favorite Rieslings for a mere pittance.
Of course prices of the German Rieslings increased over time as with other wines but the idea that a preference for white wine indicates a lesser palate or ignorance of the "French paradox", still lingers in some circles. Yes I know about resveratrol and its possible health benefits but I figure I can get that anyway enough just by eating red grapes, skin and all. And fulfil a fruit requirement of the Canada Food Guide at the same time! So I continue to indulge in my preference for white wines and choose a Riesling or Gewürtztraminer over the ubiquitous Chardonnay every time.
Lift Bar and Grill 333 Menchion Mews Vancouver Ph: 604 689-5438or Reserve Online
Heading off to a play at PAL, the Performing Arts Lodge, I looked for a restaurant in the vicinity. I remembered that I had passed Lift on several occasions while strolling around Coal Harbour and wondered each time whether the food would be as good as the view. This was the perfect time to try it out.
Villa del Lupo
869 Hamilton Street,
Vancouver Ph: 604-688-3058
I was recently invited to dinner at Villa del Lupo, an elegant Italian restaurant in a heritage building on Hamilton. Although I have dined there several times, it has to be more than ten years since my last visit. It retains the old-world European ambience with comfortably sized tables, spaced far enough apart to allow quiet conversation.
For a change this dinner was not a prelude to a theatre outing so it was great to be able to relax, eat leisurely and enjoy wine with our meal. The service was quietly efficient and obliging. The menu featured Nodino di Vitello, a veal chop, done Marsala style. I did not fancy gnawing on a bone in company and I was sure I would want to eat every last morsel of the dish, so two of us asked if we could substitute scallopini for the chop. No problem.
So following an Insalata Caprese with deliciously sweet tomatoes and fresh bocconcini, I got Vitello Scaloppini with porcini and marsala wine demi-glaze. And sure enough the veal was soft as butter, and if I had not been with company I would have sopped up every last drop of the gravy and probably licked the plate too.
Dockside Restaurant 1253 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver Phone number604-685-7070 or Reserve Online
The Dockside Restaurant in the Granville Island Hotel is really convenient if you are going to see a play at Performance Works, about 1 minute walk from the hotel entrance. We were going to see Influence, a new play by BC writer, Janet Munsil, that was opening at Performance Works, so dinner at Dockside was an excellent choice. Whenever I have been there before it has been quite busy so I made a reservation for 6 pm. We were shown to a window table with a beautiful view across False Creek. Vancouver is such a spectacular city.
Cobre Restaurant 52 Powell St, Vancouver
Phone: 604-669-2396 or Reserve Online
Shortly after 6, in good time for my reservation, (see Gillian's Kitchen) I arrived at Cobre Restaurant which features "nuevo latino cucina" (which I hope translates into contemporary Latin American cooking ). I was seated at a nice spacious window table where I could look out onto Powell Street. I was cold and hungry, and my dining companion had called to say she may not get there until 6:30.
Quel dilemme or rather qué dilema.
I turned to the wine list. A glass of Pascual Toso Sauvignon Blanc from Argentina sounded appropriate for the occasion. But I definitely needed some food to go along with it. From the pan tibio (warm bread) section I chose the Argentinian sardo pupusa y 6 chili tomato jam - six small round thick corn tortillas, lightly fried - the tomato jam was not too hot for my tastebuds and added a nice kick to the bread.
1938 W. 4th Ave
In the evening we were heading out to the Telus Studio Theatre on the Point Grey campus of University of British Columbia to see Billy Bishop Goes To War. So I thought we would check out Gastropod for an early supper. Our reservation was for 5:30 and despite heavy traffic, we got there shortly after 5:30. We were warmly greeted and shown to a nice table, that could comfortably seat four. It was in the elevated section so we could look out over the rest of the restaurant. The impression is of a light, airy and open space. We were offered water while we studied the menus. I requested a glass of the Kruger-Rumpf “Munsterer Kapellenberg” Riesling Kabinett 06 while my companion ordered a Chardonnay. We considered the fixed price menu but agred that three courses would be too much if we were to appreciate the play. So we settled for starters and main courses.
The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Granville Island 1535 Johnston Street Vancouver, BC (604) 669-9030
For one who likes going to combine seeing plays and eating out, Granville Island is very convenient, as it has at least six indoor theatre spaces alone, that I can think of, as well as a variety of restaurants appealing to different palates and pockets; and all within a few minutes walk of each other. The Sandbar Restaurant and the small sushi section down below are two places I often visit. I have found that in the summer it is often advisable to call for a reservation, but this time, on a rainy Thursday night at 6 pm, we decided to just walk in and take our chances.
1480 11th Avenue West
It has been ages since I visited Vij's so when my friend suggested we go there for a pre-show meal I agreed eagerly. The restaurant opens at 5:30 and most of the tables are occupied before six pm, leaving the option of waiting in the bar area or eating next door at Vij's Rangoli diner. While I visited the box office to pick up the tickets, my friend made straight for the restaurant and got one of the last three tables.
Plan B Lounge and Eatery
1144 Homer Street
Ph: (604) 609-0901
As we were going to see a new play at the Firehall Arts Centre on East Cordova, I decided this time, that I would chose a restaurant closer to home for pre-show dining, and we would then drive over to the theatre.
Plan B bills itself as a tapas restaurant. I really like that style of dining and thought that it would be perfect for a quick bite. On my on-line reservation form where there is a space for special requests for the Maitre' d, I added a note to say we needed to leave by 7:15. Our reservation was for 6 pm, a little ahead of the rush, and that would give us an hour and a quarter.
3121 Granville Street
Last night I had tickets to see Mourning Dove, the opening play in the season for Pacific Theatre, on 12th just east of Granville. So in continuing my exploration of restaurants close to that venue and to the Stanley Industral Alliance Stage, I used the convenient Open Table reservation system to learn about CHOW, on Granville near 15th.
Another fine restaurant that opened about a year and a half ago, this one featuring the culinary talent of chef, J.C. Poirier, CHOW focuses on "seasonal organic West Coast cuisine."
We arrived a little before our reservation time but were seated immediately at a little table for two against the wall. My initial thought was that the table was rather small for comfort but the plates in fact fitted comfortably in the space and it was actually great to be able to talk quietly and easily despite the background chatter from the other tables. David appeared promptly to provide water and take our wine order. I had a glass of the 2007 Gewurtzraminer from Orofino Vineyards in BC's Similkameen valley. My companion chose the Joie Riesling.
David, our server, took me down to the kitchen to introduce me to chef Poirier, shown here standing behind the immaculate counter top.