By Tim Pawsey
Where’s annual salute to the brightest and best serves as a fitting culinary snapshot of Vancouver, a worthy reminder from well-travelled voting visitors as to just how blessed this city is by such diversity. Our vibrant multicultural culinary scene is fuelled increasingly by local year-round ingredients and flourishing artisan producers. Congratulations to all our winners and finalists! (more…)
By Tim Pawsey
Readers’ Choice: Whistler
Take the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to discover Whistler, a year-round resort that still sports plenty of post–Winter Games vibes, not to mention an abundance of great tastes, from fine dining to funky pubs to cool après-ski hang-outs.
Bronx Burger with beer-battered onion rings, at Earls. Photo courtesy Earls
[RELATED: See last year's Where to Dine Winners]
4222 Village Square, Whistler.
Bearfoot Bistro; Rimrock Cafe.
220-4295 Blackcomb Way, Whistler.
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar; 21 Steps Kitchen & Bar.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
4154 Village Green at Crystal Lodge, Whistler. 604-938-1081.
Earls; Milestones Grill & Bar.
Garibaldi Lift Company
4165 Springs Lane, Whistler.
Longhorn Saloon & Grill; Dusty’s Bar & BBQ.
To see our Vancouver winners, please click here.
To vote for your favourite Vancouver and Whistler restaurants in our 2014 Where to Dine Awards, click here. You could win a fabulous prize package from Rocky Mountaineer and Nita Lake Lodge!
APRIL 1-30 Chocoholics will get their fill during Chocolatefest, Ciao! magazine’s annual celebration of everyone’s favourite indulgence. For the month of April, participating bakeries, restaurants and cafés will offer one or more signature chocolate creations — be they sweet, savoury or sippable — for just $7. Call 204-943-4439 for more information.
Last year’s Where to Dine Awards recognized some of our fair city’s most exceptional eateries. Among the recipients: renowned restaurateur Bud Kanke, upscale Hawksworth Restaurant, budget-friendly Japadog and buzz-worthy Chambar. Find all the finalists and runner-ups from last year’s event here. Pick up our May issue to see the 2013 Where to Dine Awards.
Ahi tuna tartar at Cafe Pacifica
At Cafe Pacifica, it’s impossible to decide which is more stunning, the ocean view or the artfully presented food. Fortunately, there’s time to admire both as you sample appetizers such as porcini-dusted scallops with truffle-scented celeriac puree, or ahi tuna tartar with sweet soya, yuzu pearls and a blend of sauces (pictured), and entrees such as braised oxtail ragout with egg noodle fettuccini, or seared Lois Lake steelhead served on top of crushed potatoes blended with West Coast Dungeness crab. Consider it a feast for all the senses.—Sheri Radford
Meat & Bread photo by KK Law
There’s no need to eat alone in a town in love with communal tables—and, often as not, family-style fare to go along.
- Meat & Bread Go for the acclaimed fresh sandwiches prepared à la minute from the carvery. Two locations, one word: porchetta (pictured).
- Yew This giant table carved from a single slab of maple is a popular hang-out to sample Four Seasons chef Ned Bell’s stylish seafood.
- Two Chefs and a Table This unlikely tucked-away-but-worthy cafe in Railtown often hosts winemaker dinners.
- The Irish Heather Check into their long-table evenings and you’ll be eating like a local in no time, drinking Guinness and possibly telling tall tales.
- The Refinery Find creative cocktails, artisan cheese and charcuterie, tapas, and tasty share platters in a funky, almost-all-recycled, cozy upstairs setting.—Tim Pawsey
Seasonings: Flavours of the Southern Gulf Islands, by Andrea and David Spalding
So much more than a mere cookbook, Seasonings: Flavours of the Southern Gulf Islands (Harbour Publishing; $29.95) overflows with quirky info and gorgeous colour photographs, not just of food but also of chefs, farms and spectacular island scenery. Authors Andrea and David Spalding, who live on Pender Island, profile local foodie folks such as guerrilla cheese maker David Rotsztain, “bread lady” Heather Campbell, “potato man” Roger Pettit and master gardener Linda Gilkeson, whose “Sex in the Garden” workshop is always popular. (Don’t get too excited: the topic is pollination.) The Spaldings recount delightful tales about island eccentricities, including the Pizza Garden Project on Pender Island, smoked tofu sandwiches in the high school cafeteria on Salt Spring Island, and the ongoing battle between island gardeners and wild deer, who treat local gardens as all-you-can-eat buffets. (more…)
Don’t-miss dish: “canned” tuna. Photo by KK Law
It was barely a couple of days before Top Chef Canada finalist Trevor Bird’s revival of a shuttered Kitsilano spot into vibrant farm-focused Fable Kitchen became a Vancouver hotspot. What makes it tick? Short answer: just about everything, from Bird’s concise but varied menu of responsibly sourced ingredients to the well-drilled team in the open kitchen and beyond. Our faves range from “canned” tuna to potato-crusted chicken to a show-stopping cooked-rare tender duck breast to flat-iron steak with black pepper jam—plus sidekick Curtis Luk’s superb desserts. Best place to take in the action? The end seat at the open kitchen bar—right where the chef assembles and checks each plate before it goes to the table, calls for service and generally runs the show. And even finds time to chat.—Tim Pawsey
FEBRUARY 15-24 Experience the ‘joie de vivre’ of Festival du Voyageur. This renowned 10-day winter festival held in the heart of Winnipeg’s French Quarter celebrates Manitoba’s rich francophone heritage with fiddling, jigging, ice scuplting and a beard-growing competition, all kicked off by a boisterous opening celebration (pictured). Of course, it’s not kitchen party without food. Warm up with hearty pea soup and a sip of Caribou, a traditional Québécois blend of red wine and whisky that was consumed during caribou hunts, then satisfy a sweet tooth with crêpes and maple syrup at the Sugar Shack. Voyageur (Whittier) Park, 204-233-ALLO.
Braised pork belly with roasted shallots and crispy baby potatoes. Photo by KK Law
In a twist from more BC-inclined locales, Portland Craft unabashedly celebrates Oregon’s brewing scene, which kick-started the craft beer revival. Drop by this friendly Mount Pleasant room for stalwarts such as Deschutes, Pyramid, Rogue, Hopworks and more, all properly poured and easily paired with a daily pizza, house-built burger or perfectly crunchy pork belly slices with fingerling potatoes. Also not to be missed: the stout chocolate lava cake.—Tim Pawsey
Spicy tuna prawn rolls (front), seared salmon sashimi (middle) and alpha rolls (back), at Alpha Global Sushi. Photo by KK Law
Uncover some of the city’s best eating at a myriad of unsung Asian rooms. Alpha Global Sushi sports fresh rolls, inventive izakaya and smart drinks in a cozy laidback setting. Robson’s Gyoza King eschews sushi for affordable home-style fare such as piping-hot prawn gyoza (dumplings), bowls of steaming ramen, robata and more. Fast but not fancy, Lin makes for a perfect quick bite of northern Chinese, including the celebrated handmade soup-filled Shanghai pork dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)—vowed by serious XLB hounds to be the best this side of the Pacific.—Tim Pawsey
Chef Chris Whittaker with Fraser Valley beets (front), Pacific Provider salmon (middle) and apple pie (back), at Forage. Photo by KK Law
Newly unveiled Forage on Robson Street is the city’s most sustainable room, both on and off the menu. Chef Chris Whittaker’s creations highlight local ingredients, not only seasonal but also gathered and preserved year round. The feel is more contemporary gastropub than hotel dining room, with well-picked pints plus BC wines on tap. Tastes wander from crunchy pork-rind popcorn to seared albacore tuna with blackberry-and-fir jelly, not to mention a silky smooth spot prawn chowder that swept the field at the Vancouver Aquarium’s hotly contested Chowder Chowdown. Looking for more ways to balance calories with carbon credits? Check out casual and hip Commune Cafe or regional trailblazer Raincity Grill.—Tim Pawsey