Review From The Cellar

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. 

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.

I was going to see a new play, The Velvet Edge, at a venue that I had not previously been to, the Chapel Arts Centre on Dunlevy and East Cordova,  about two blocks east of the Firehall Theatre. So casting around for somewhere to eat before the show, I decided to enhance my newly acquired Spanish food vocabulary by eating at Cobre Restaurant in Gastown.  Cobre features "Nuevo Latino Cuisine," contemporary cooking  from Latin America.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pacific Theatre opens their 25th season with Montreal playwright Emil Sher's powerful little gem of a play, Mourning Dove.  Don't miss it. Sher draws on the tragic Latimer affair to present two interwoven emotive and complex themes; the morality of love and the dichotomy of law and justice. I doubt whether there was a sentient adult in Canada in 1993 who did not have a strong opinion as to the right or wrong of Robert Latimer's motives in ending the life of Tracy, his severely disabled daughter. Some thought him principled and courageous - others labelled him the worst of murderers. We all see things through the lens of our personal life experiences.

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.

In my ongoing pursuit of a healthy mind in a healthy body I signed up for UBC's  continuing studies beginner Spanish course and an intro to Argentine Tango  (instruction in Spanish).  Having two charming, vivacious but determined instructors, I find that I can make it through three and a half  hours of instruction at the end of a long week and still retain some new words. 

At the corner of  Richards and Helmcken stands a small Japanese restaurant with an unusual name, + Alpha.  As they point out, the term means "something extra" in terms of food and service and certainly whenever I walk in there for a bite, the place is  buzzing with activity, the food consistently good and the service is always efficient and friendly.

Living in downtown Vancouver, within walking distance of so many excellent restaurants, I tend to venture further out to eat in other neighbourhoods mainly in conjunction with other activities such as a play, film, exhibition or lecture. For my latest pre-theatre dining experience I decided to try Fuel Restaurant on West 4th between Cypress and Maple. Great choice.

Garlic, onions, ginger, sherry and a soupçon of cinnamon - the air is redolent with these scents and the underlying base of lamb.  This casserole has been simmmering for ten hours in the slow cooker and I inhale deeply as I enter  my apartment. The scented air envelops me like a warm blanket and I feel the tensions of the day slipping out the door behind me. This is comfort food indeed.

On Sundays after cycling around Vancouver,  members of  our cycle group often supplemented by a few non-cyclists, get together around 1 pm for a light lunch. On this occasion we decided to check out The Hurricane Grill that had opened a couple of months ago in a space previously occupied by at least three other restaurants. But this particular place is apparently a sibling restaurant of the Hurricane Grill on the North Shore, so presumably  the owners should have figured out all the kinks in the system already.
 

Last week we were going to the Stanley Theatre for an 8 pm show.  We decided to try a restaurant in the area to which we had not been before so I turned to Open Table for help. This is a most convenient system for finding a restaurant reservation and if you have not used it before I heartily recommend it. The Red Door caught my eye and within minutes I had an Open Table reservation for 6:15 for 2 people.

Grey clouds heavy with rain loomed over Vancouver as we settled into the car but the weather forecast for the South Okanagan promised sunny skies and temperatures of 24 to 26 degrees Celsius. We were headed for the Sandy Beach Resort and Lodge in Naramata, to meet up with friends from Calgary and Thetis Island for a couple of days of winery visits.