888 Nelson Street
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.
3014 Granville Street,
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.
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.
We snagged a parking spot on Cardero right opposite PAL. Although it was relatively mild for late autumn in Vancouver, there was a chill in the air, so we walked briskly to the restaurant. Once seated we warmed up quickly and the view from our window seat was as great as expected. We enjoyed the ambience of the restaurant, and admired the lighting of the bar area, flaming red when we arrived, green later when we left.
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.
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.