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The Cuisine Scene in British Columbia

by Pam Williams

Welcome to Beautiful British Columbia! For those of you visiting Vancouver for a few days there is lots of variety. There are many ethnic influences in our cuisine and some wonderful restaurants that reflect these influences. This is a "fine food" city and we enjoy eating out immensely. This list is updated frequently.

The Night Life

Vancouver's current restaurant scene is vital and dynamic. There may be new kids on the block not on this list but sometimes those come and go so quickly its hard to keep track. I've stuck to the few that deliver good food and service - time and time again. I also tried to highlight restaurants in neighborhoods where the walking before
or after dinner is interesting.

Downtown including Yaletown and Gastown

845 Hornby St
(604) 689-7777

Located in the Wedgewood Hotel, the European inspired space is home to not only a well respected restaurant but also a great piano bar and lounge. Lunch is always crowded with business folk who have time to linger.

Bin 941 Tapas Parlour
941 Davie Street
(604) 683-1246
A tapas bar with a selection of good wines by the glass. A small unique restaurant featuring extended hours for the late night crowd.

Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar
1095 Hamilton Street
(604) 688-8078
Executive Chef Frank Pabst offers an abundance of beautifully prepared seafood and fish as part of a contemporary menu that has brought the crowds out. The raw bar serves sushi and sashimi, fresh shucked oysters.

"C" a contemporary fish restaurant
1 - 1600 Howe Street
(604) 681-1164
This wonderful waterfront space overlooking the False Creek inlet and across from Granville Island offers one of the most unique dining experiences in the city featuring the seafood creations of award winning Chef Rob Clark. Owner Harry Kambolis insists in sourcing the finest quality fresh seafood available in British Columbia. Together they have produced one of Vancouver's exceptional dining experiences.

Cin Cin Woodgrill & Rotisserie
1154 Robson
(604) 688-7338
The focal point of this restaurant's open kitchen is its wood burning oven and grill. You can't go wrong with a pizza hot out of the oven. The kitchen incorporates a combination of French and Mediterranean flavors in his pastas and risottos. Look around, this seems to be a mecca for the Hollywood stars in town. This restaurant located on Robson Street, Vancouver’s premiere shopping area, has a warm and bustling atmosphere.

Diva at the Met
645 Howe Street
(604) 602-7788
West Coast ingredients with hints of the Mediterranean, Asia and France. Excellent food and service coupled with a wine list featuring B.C. wines.

Don Francesco
860 Burrard Street
(604) 685-7770
Francesco Alongi known for his excellent renditions of Italian opera tunes continues his attention to detail in the food and the presentation at this well appointed location. Features include Caesar salads, slow roasted duck and classic risottos.

Five Sails, Pan Pacific Hotel
300-999 Canada Place
(604) 662-8111
Quiet, very elegant dining with a view of the Harbour and the mountains that is unrivaled. When you feel like splurging, this is the restaurant.

Glowbal Grill and Satay Bar
1079 Mainland Street
(604) 602-0835
This upscale Yaletown restaurant features sticks of scallops or marinated lamb as well as crispy Dijon–crusted oysters which are bite sized and perfect for sharing in a tasteful setting featuring designer décor is something to experience. The wine list complements the upscale menu.

Il Giardino
1382 Hornby Street
(604) 669-2422
Umberto Menghi’s flagship is a fixture in the Vancouver Restaurant scene. This is his ode to Tuscany. The restaurant projects a warm but bold Italian atmosphere and the consistency in the food indicates his influence in the kitchen. This is a popular place with the locals as well as visiting movie celebrities.

Le Crocodile

100-909 Burrard
(604) 669-4298
Owner/Chef Michel Jacob presides over this upscale bistro where he continues to create Vancouver's best Alsatian onion tarte as well as many other Alsace inspired dishes in this elegant restaurant. Dress up a little and revel in impeccable service and exquisite cuisine.

Market by Jean-Georges
1115 Alberni Street, 3rd Floor
Vancouver, BC V6E 0A8
(604) 695-1115
The tallest building in Vancouver - 61 stories high - is home to Celebrity Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten first foray into Canada. A modern setting showcases regional food in a bistro, outdoor terrace, a fine dining room and the "musical chair" bar.

1661 Granville St
(604) 646-4668
The third of Harry Kambolis’ great restaurants. Funky design on the waterfront of
False Creek. Chef de Cuisine is Robert Belcham offers a diverse menu that takes its inspiration from classic bistro food.

Raincity Grill
1193 Denman
(604) 685-7337
With an emphasis on local ingredients and BC wines, this casual restaurant on English Bay is a must, especially in the summer when Denman Street is alive with folks roaming to and from the beach. Walk, don't take a car as parking in hard to
come by. Try the grilled Caesar salad. It's a dish indicative of the innovative use and clear understanding of fine quality ingredients.

Villa del Lupo
869 Hamilton Street
(604) 688-7436
A small Victorian house is home to one of Vancouver's most intimate and excellent Italian restaurants. Indicative of the menu are dishes such as: fresh rabbit loin, stuffed with mushrooms, black olives and thyme, lamb osso buco and cannelloni with seafood and shellfish with a hint of dill. Take your appetite with you and enjoy.

Close to Downtown
Featuring Some of Vancouver’s award winning restaurants

2183 West 4th Avenue
(604) 738-2025
John Bishop has created an oasis of elegant west coast dining in his tiny restaurant on Vancouver's busy 4th Avenue. To quote an admirer "It is simply the keynote restaurant for those who want impeccability." The menu evolves with the seasons. Each dish is a symphony of the finest quality, fresh ingredients prepared with care and attention to detail including a menu consisting of 100 per cent organic ingredients. The service is intimate and professional without being stuffy or intrusive.

Bistro Pastis
2153 W. 4th Ave
French bistro food at this small space just over the Burrard Street bridge in the middle of the 4th Avenue shopping district. The atmosphere is welcoming and warm after a long day at the shops.

1439 West Broadway
Located in south Granville a short ride or walk from the downtown hotels and operated by three committed restaurateurs offers a clean clutter free atmosphere featuring an outstanding wine list which is pared to main courses or the small dish tasting menu. Some of the recommended dishes include the east coast scallops or the Middle Eastern lamb.

Lumiere and DB Bistro Modern
2551 Broadway West
Vancouver, BC V6K 2E9
(604) 739-8185
Celebrity Chef Daniel Boulud is proprietor of both a Relais & Chateau class restaurant and a casual bistro which is great for lunch. Sit on the sidewalk on a sunny day. Look for local flavors with a French/New York flare.

Gramercy Grill
2685 Arbutus Street
(604) 730-5666
A fixture in the west side dining scene, the room features a horseshoe bar with a curved wall separating the comfortable dining room. The menu features long bone pork chops roasted lamb sirloin and ribs. Featured is an abundance of martinis together with a diverse selection of wines.

Sophie's Cosmic Cafe
2095 West Fourth Avenue
(604) 732-6810
The first thing you'll notice as you enter this small cafe is something from your past attached to the walls. This is the 50's and 60's basement run amuck. Everything is familiar on the menu -- burgers, pastas without fancy names, a couple of Mexican dishes you grew up with and the best chocolate shake in town. Expect a long wait if you are looking for breakfast, as it has become an institution for the old fashioned big breakfast.

Star Anise
1485 West 12th Avenue
(604) 737-1485
Small but elegant, Star Anise consistently excites its full house with wonderful food. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients in its west coast inspired menu. Probably the best crab cakes in town can be found on the menu and you can't miss with the rack of lamb.

Tomato Fresh Food Cafe
2486 Bayswater Street at Broadway
(604) 874-6020
The menu contains lots of favorites -- BLTs, Turkey Sandwiches and Chili for lunch have been re-invented for the 90's with an emphasis on fresh and healthy ingredients. A busy juice bar contributes to the noise level. Evening dining includes great free
range chicken with stick-to-your- ribs desserts, too. There's even a Tomato to Go.

Vij's Restaurant
1480 West 11th Avenue
(604) 736-6664
This small restaurant serves fabulous Punjab style cuisine. The owner, Vikram Vij, paid his dues in the best dining rooms of Vancouver and it shows, both in the quality
of the food and the friendly but professional service. The curries are fragrant with spices; the basmati rice and the featured garam marsala portobello mushroom are all cooked to perfection.

1133 Broadway West
(604) 872-8051
Hidekazu Tojo, owner and master sushi chef, is not only a character but also a true master of a very difficult and demanding cuisine. The Japanese cuisine he presents has been considered the best in the northwest ever since he opened his elegant restaurant. Be brave, agree on a price and let Tojo decide on the menu. You will be a very happy and satisfied guest.

Quattro on 4th
2611 West 4th Avenue
(604) 734-4444
Antonio Corsi and family bring 40 years of restaurant experience to the table and have come up with a winner. The menu provides an array of imaginative dishes including innovative pastas and cannelloni as well as outstanding antipasto. If you and your friends want to share the experience the chef will prepare an Italian feast, with which you can enjoy a selection from their extensive wine cellar.

2881 Granville Street
(604) 738-8938
Chef Warren Geraghty who brings contemporary regional cuisine to this South Granville location. Focusing on fresh local ingredients presented in a relaxing atmosphere this restaurant deserves a star billing.

Ice Cream, Etc.
Here are my favorite places to get something cool and refreshing in Vancouver. These are also cafes and shops that are worth the trip for other goodies as well.

Mum's Italian Gelato
849 Denman Street
(604) 681-1500
This tiny ice cream shop makes over 100 flavors of ice cream, sorbet, gelatin and
skim milk yogurt on premise and fresh each day. Regulars line up for Mango and Mocha ice creams on a warm Vancouver evening.

Venezia Ice Cream

5752 Victoria Drive
(604) 327-8614
Vancouver has a vibrant Italian community and nowhere is that more evident than at this manufacturer and retailer of Italy inspired ice creams, gelatos and sherbets. Summer favorites include Lemon sherbets, Mango and Hazelnut ice creams.

Mondo Gelato International
1094 Denman Street
(604) 647-6638
1222 Robson Street
(604) 694-0108
Expect to feel that you are back in Italy. A great selection of classic as well as unusual gelato and granita in a very upscale setting.

Sophies Cosmic Cafe
2095 West Fourth Avenue
(604) 732-6810
You have to see it to believe all the treasures on display. Straightforward food with cool treats on the dinner menu. Enjoy Deluxe Cosmic Sundays in such flavours as fruit & orange liqueur or cream cafe & chocolate with whipped cream. Then dig in to the Cosmic Banana Split with liqueur, an adult take on a childhood favorite.

Chocolate lovers agree -- Vancouver boasts some of the most innovative and luscious chocolate activity on the west coast. Here is a sampling of my favorites.

Thomas Haas
2539 West Broadway Avenue
Vancouver, BCÂ V6K 2E9
Unit 128, 998 Harbourside Drive
North Vancouver, BC

Artisan Square
Bowen Island, BC

Chocolate Arts
2037 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

CocoaNymph Chocolates & Confections
3730 W. 10th Ave (at Alma)
Vancouver, BC, VGR 2G5

Granville Island Market
Vancouver, BC

Mink Chocolates Inc.
863 West Hastings Street
Vancouver BC

Chocoatl Chocolatiers
Yaletown Area Downtown Vancouver
1127 Mainland St.
Vancouver, BC

DC Duby
Available at Edible BC
Granville Island Market

Chinese Restaurants

A trip to Vancouver wouldn't be complete without taking advantage of the wonderful cuisine of our burgeoning Chinese population. These are probably the best restaurants. Expect the decor to be typically lowbrow and the tables to be full. Order whatever you usually order or let the waiter lead you to special items.

Kirin Seafood Restaurant
20-555 West 12th Avenue
(604) 879-8038
In a city with the second largest Chinatown on the West Coast, you expect fine Chinese restaurants and Kirin doesn't disappoint. Cantonese cuisine with an
emphasis on seafood is presented in beautiful surroundings with elegant service.

Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant
3888 Main Street
(604) 872-8822
Regularly named the best Chinese restaurant serving such succulent dishes as roast squab and black cod cooked in a soy sauce. The dim sum is also excellent.

Grand King Seafood Restaurant
705 W. Broadway
(604) 876-7855
The restaurant enjoys celebrity status with customers who enjoy foods cooked by talented chefs using local ingredients.

Imperial Seafood Chinese Restaurant
355 Burrard Street
Located downtown in a historic building adjacent to the Vancouver waterfront this restaurant offers classic Cantonese dishes. Truly an elegant restaurant.

1055 West Georgia
The dim sum is truly an adventure with items not offered in the usual Chinese restaurants. The Har gow has the traditional shrimp filling as well as such unique offerings as fishball and watercress as well as ginseng soup. The evening selections are the traditional Chinese cuisine.

Day Tripping

Granville Island is always a good place to start. The market opens at 9:00 am and that's when the locals do their shopping, as it gets to be a "zoo" starting around noon and parking is a problem. My suggestion is to browse the market with a cappuccino or latte (yes -- Vancouver has become a coffee-obsessed city like Seattle) while buying a picnic lunch. Right outside the Market is the False Creek Ferry dock. These little passenger ferries connect the north and south shore of False Creek for fares from $2.00 to $5.00 depending on your destination. Take your picnic basket and board a ferry for the 10 - 15 minute trip to Vanier Park/Maritime Museum's dock. You get a beautiful view of the city from the ferry ride and you can picnic while watching the boats parade by or the kite flyers do their thing.

Bowen Island is a day trip that gives you a chance to get out on the ocean for a short ferry ride. Take the Horseshoe Bay bus from downtown Vancouver or if you have a car, take Highway 1 to Horseshoe Bay. Park in one of the public parking lots and then board the ferry for Bowen Island. The ferry trip takes about 20 minutes and leaves about every hour except for a lunch break between the 12:00 pm sailing and the 2:30 pm sailing. If your timing is off and you have a while to wait, Horseshoe Bay is a resort town with restaurants and shops overlooking the harbour and a great First Nations shop called the Spirit Gallery. When you arrive in Snug Cove on Bowen Island you will notice that the "town" is only about 2 blocks long, don't despair, there are a couple of pubs. Order a pint of Bowen Island Ale and sit back on the deck and enjoy. If you are into walking, there are trails out of Snug Cove. If you like to hike or have brought your car, check out Artisan Square - a complex of shops and galleries at the top of the hill above town. Also in Artisan Square don't miss the luxury chocolate shop Cocoa West. For more on Bowen Island - check out their Chamber of Commerce website.

Whistler, BC is only a couple of hours away. I usually try to take first time visitors up there, as it is a spectacular drive and destination. Leave Vancouver after 9:00 am to miss the rush hour traffic. Plan two to three hours for the trip to Whistler Village, as you will probably stop along the way to gawk at the scenery. Chateau Whistler Hotel is a great place for a nice lunch. In the Village itself there are lots of restaurants to choose from.

More than a Day Trip - but definitely worth it!!

Victoria, BC can be a day trip but a very long one. Try to get the earliest ferry possible as they fill up very fast. Don't even attempt the journey on Friday afternoon or Sunday afternoon as all us locals are on our way out of town as well. In order to travel and leave time to explore Victoria, be ready for an all day adventure. It takes about four hours from the time you leave Vancouver and arrive in Victoria. When I travel on business for just the day, I take the bus. At least then I can work, relax or nap going and coming. I always recommend that the first time visitor to Victoria have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel (604) 389-2727 served in the traditional way with petite sandwiches and pastries including Devon cream for your scones. If for no other reason than telling everyone back home that you did it (they'll all expect you to anyway).

No information on Vancouver Island would be complete without boasting a little about two small luxury Hotels on the Island have numerous allocades and continuously wine awards, such as Travel and Leisure Worlds Best Awards.

Sooke Harbour House is a wonderful inn and restaurant outside of Victoria is a mecca for serious travelers and diners from around the world. If you can handle adding another couple of hours to your trip go for an early dinner (breakfast and lunch are available only for the Inn's guests). They start serving dinner at 5:30. Reservations are a must and should be made well in advance of your trip. The owners, Fredrica and Sinclair Philip, have created a truly unique and beautiful establishment.

In the middle of the rugged West coast of Vancouver Island is The Wickaninnish Inn and Pointe Restaurant. The Inn has received some of the world’s most prestigious designations and awards by distinguished hospitality rating organizations.

Pam Williams
is founder and lead instructor of Ecole Chocolat Professional Chocolatier School of Chocolate Arts.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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