Supping in Vancouver

soft shell crabRelish
888 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604 -669-1962

Visit 1: Chilled by the icy wind and still stunned by the film we had just seen, (the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) we settled gratefully into the comfortable booth we were offered  and began to thaw. It was not quite 5:30 and quiet so we had the opportunity to chat  to Tracey, our charming server, about the restaurant and menus.  Although I was tempted by many of the other a la carte items on the menu, the Prix Fixe special that offered a soup or salad, an entree from the fresh sheet, and a dessert or cheese plate, was too good value to pass up.  And it was a good choice too.

We both started with salads; he had the house salad and I took the caesar salad. Very tasty and satisfying, with plenty of parmesan shavings. A glass of  2007 Pentage Gewürtztraminer was a nice sipping choice. Our mains were excellent; a seared duck breast cooked to perfection and a mocha crusted  sirloin  served with gnocchi and asparagus in a parmesan cream sauce.

He chose apple pie but I couldn't pass up the two-cheese plate.  I picked the featured Guiness Cheddar and Cambazola.   When Tracey brought the  cheese, apricots, candied walnuts  a couple of grapes and toast slices served on an attractive slate, she noticed that instead of the chosen Guiness Cheddar there was a different cheese.  She promptly brought an additional side plate with some Guiness cheddar. Nice touch.

JambalayaOuisi Bistro
3014 Granville Street,
Ph: 604-732-7550

As we walked along Granville looking for Ouisi (with my "infallible" sense of direction,  I had turned right - south instead of north from our parking spot on 12th), we were speculating about the origin of the name.  Since it could be deconstructed as oui and si, we decided that it must mean  "yes, yes." Great name for a restaurant, we thought. But after we found the place and were seated, Catherine, our smiling server, said it came from the middle part of Louisiana.  We should have guessed since it serves Cajun and Creole food.

Ouisi features a theatre menu which looked great but as I am not usually to keen on dessert,  we each decided to have a starter and then try the Jambalaya.  I ordered a glass of Cono Suv Viognier 2005 from Chile to sip on while we waited.

My Cajun style Dungeness crab cakes, served with corn relish and roasted red pepper vinaigrette, were spicy but not too hot. I have never acquired the ability to consume very hot foods and drinks, whether thermally or gustationally hot, so these were  perfect for my taste. My companion enjoyed her tomato based  seafood chowder.

Riesling 101I 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.

Grilled SabaLift Bar and Grill
333 Menchion Mews
Ph: 604 689-5438 or 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,
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
Vancouver, BC 
Ph: (604)730-5579

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.

Vij's Restaurant
1480 11th Avenue West
(604) 736-6664

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.


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