By TIM PAWSEY
Hawksworth Restaurant serves up delectable dishes such as roasted halibut with potatp gnocchi, eggplant and English peas. (Photo: KK Law)
They came. They dined. And they voted. Where’s well-travelled readership weighs in on Vancouver’s vibrant and ever-expanding dining scene. We join them in congratulating all of our winners and finalists, who celebrate daily the freshness, local flavours and genuine hospitality that define our truly welcoming community.
WHERE SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD AWARD
The very day after Forage opened in 2012, chef Chris Whittaker’s seafood chowder swept the field at the Vancouver Aquarium’s hotly contested Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown. The dish won again in 2013. And the creamy spot prawn chowder with crunchy, smoky pork rinds is still a firm favourite. The aquarium’s Ann-Marie Copping hails Whittaker as “truly, an active ambassador and great supporter of the Ocean Wise program, who was also instrumental in the organization of the immensely successful annual Spot Prawn Festival.” In sourcing, Whittaker leaves no stone unturned, buying line-caught wild salmon direct from fishers such as Pacific Provider, and using every part, from cheeks to fillets, bellies to bones. Whether octopus, oysters, scallops or halibut, all that enters the Forage chef’s kitchen is indisputably sustainable.
LES CLEFS D’OR CANADA SILVER SERVICE AWARD
Few have their fingers as firmly on the pulse of city dining as do hotel concierges, who have bestowed the coveted Silver Service Award on this stylish, just-off-Robson, two-tiered seafood emporium. Go for the fish ’n’ chips, pan-roasted albacore tuna or surf ’n’ turf platter—and discover a room with true buzz upstairs and down. Hide away in a private corner or hang out at the downstairs circular bar or happenin’ O Lounge.
The stylish interior of Homer St. Cafe. (Photo: KK Law)
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Homer St. Cafe and Bar
In heritage surroundings, below pressed-metal ceilings, wrapped in brass and polished marble, this smart brasserie wears a blend of traditional and nouveau. A classically inspired menu focuses on responsible sourcing and quality local ingredients. Top tastes include spice-rubbed rotisserie chicken, cornmeal-crusted pork loin with sunchokes and carrots, crostini with chick peas, and terrines, plus a smart wine list and tempting cocktails.
OTHER NOTABLE NEWCOMERS
Burdock & Co.
The Cannibal Café
The Fish Counter
GoodWolfe kitchen & bar
Grain Tasting Bar
Miku Restaurant (new location)
Tap & Barrel (second location)
Students practise their skills in Bistro 101, the school’s restaurant, creating dishes such as halibut. (Photo: KK Law)
Granville Island’s best-kept “off-island” secret is a bastion of affordable West Coast good taste for a worthy cause. Student chefs and servers from the mothership Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) surprise and delight in a relaxing waterside setting, with False Creek on one side and the training kitchen in plain view through a glass wall.
GREEN TABLE AWARD
Tap & Barrel
This newly landed casual haunt beside the Vancouver Convention Centre joins its sibling in Olympic Village. Both are Platinum-certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the benchmark for sustainably designed buildings. Each is equipped with state-of-the-art energy-efficient lighting and kitchen appliances, rainwater-flushed toilets and more. A cutting-edge wine-on-tap keg system not only offers diners plentiful by-the-glass choices of many better BC labels but also eliminates the delivery and disposal of tens of thousands of glass bottles every year.
The Green Table Award is conferred on a restaurant that promotes sustainability in food service at all levels of its operation, as determined by the organization’s executive.
Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar
This onetime-Yaletown-warehouse now dazzles with the freshest of marine cuisine—including, every February, less common “unsung” local tastes—in a bustling but cozy setting with polished service.
FINALISTS Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House; C Restaurant.
Chef David Hawksworth’s namesake room is widely hailed as the downtown beacon of BC regional cuisine, yielding artfully executed plates and top-notch service with a sophisticated wine program to match.
FINALISTS LIFT Bar-Grill-View; Coast Restaurant.
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
This long-running West Coast restaurant group enjoys a reputation for consistency and value, with options ranging from New York to rib steak to filet mignon, as well as prime rib, plus a lively bar scene.
FINALISTS Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar; Black + Blue.
The Cactus Club Cafe in Coal Harbour boasts the most spectacular view in the city. (Photo: KK Law)
Cactus Club Cafe
Right across from the Vancouver Convention Centre, this smartly modernist, always-happening emporium sports an all-glass ceiling-high wall that slides aside to bring the dramatic outside panorama indoors.
FINALISTS LIFT Bar-Grill-View; Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House.
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
“Nothing compares,” insist fans of Pino Posteraro’s destination Yaletown room, where the chef visits every table to oversee classics such as veal osso buco, brasato al barolo and scaloppine ai funghi.
FINALISTS CinCin Ristorante + Bar; Italian Kitchen.
Michel Jacob’s extraordinary, detail-driven Alsatian plates, from tarte à l’oignon to grilled veal medallions served with morel mushrooms and veal demi-glaze—not to mention flawless service—confirm Le Crocodile as the city’s French standard bearer.
FINALISTS Les Faux Bourgeois; Tableau Bar Bistro.
Steps from Queen Elizabeth Theatre and BC Place Stadium, this cozy red-brick room celebrates the best of Belgium, France and Morocco with tagine, moules frites, pan-seared sturgeon and spice-rubbed duck breast.
FINALISTS Takis’ Taverna; Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna.
The white Fazioli piano makes a striking centrepiece in Lobby Lounge and RawBar, in the Fairmont Pacific Rim. (Photo: KK Law)
Lobby Lounge and RawBar
The cocktails are superb and the stunning white Fazioli piano is rarely silent. But more than just a pretty place, this stylish lounge cossets with afternoon tea and the city’s first all-sustainable sushi bar.
FINALISTS Yew Seafood + Bar; Xi Shi Lounge.
Yew Seafood + Bar
A communal table with a fireplace, sustainable seafood, dazzling raw bar, extensive cellar, cool cocktails and the city’s most public (i.e. glass-enclosed) private dining room combine to make this polished haunt a downtown destination.
FINALISTS Tableau Bar Bistro; Market by Jean-Georges.
Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
Tannis Ling’s high-ceilinged room recalls the Chinatown of a century ago but her thoroughly modern small-plates menu revels in Humboldt squid, beef tartare, wok-charred octopus salad—and “kick-ass” house fried rice.
FINALISTS Kirin Restaurant; Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant.
Nobody has nurtured Vancouver’s love affair with sushi—and Japanese cuisine at large—more than master chef Hidekazu Tojo, whose Omakase belongs on every aficionado’s bucket list.
FINALISTS Guu; Sushi Station.
Vikram Vij serves his famous (and enduringly popular) lamb “popsicles” at Vij’s Restaurant. (Photo: KK Law)
Always inventive, fanatical about technique and ingredients, Vikram Vij is hailed at home and abroad for reinventing Indian cuisine, with tastes like fenugreek lamb “popsicles” and grilled sablefish in tomato yogurt broth.
FINALISTS Maurya Indian Cuisine; Handi Cuisine of India.
Banana Leaf Malaysian Cuisine
Straits-cuisine specialists combine the best of Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Thailand, from laksa to chilli crab to Hainanese chicken, and serve it in a cheerful setting at five central locations.
FINALISTS Thai House Restaurant; Sura.
The city’s West Coast small-plates originator rules with inventive dishes, such as seared duck breast with goat cheese and pancetta, or “East West” crab cakes with burnt-orange chipotle sauce, sesame, bok choy and tobiko, served in sardine-esque surroundings.
FINALISTS La Bodega Restaurante & Tapa Bar; Espana.
Everyone from hungry UBC students to wallet-watching locals flocks to this lively Japanese-fusion haunt on the West Side for sushi creations of every kind, hot tunes from cool DJs and a generally fun time all round.
FINALISTS Meat & Bread; White Spot.
Pirate Pak with thin-crust pizza, veggies and fruit at White Spot. (Photo: KK Law)
Founded in 1928, this former drive-in has evolved well beyond its famous burgers and Triple O sauce to all-day health-conscious plates for the entire family. Even BC Ferries serves the celebrated Pirate Pak—just for kids!
FINALISTS Milestones Grill + Bar; Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.
Novel food trucks draw daily line-ups for their Japanese-inspired hot dogs—from turkey with kimchee and black sesame to the signature Terimayo—with often-colourful service.
FINALISTS The Tacofino Commissary; Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck.
Mahony & Sons
Wander down to the “point” below the Vancouver Convention Centre to discover multiple snugs and well-poured pints at this cheerful Irish salute, with Guinness and Harp on tap and a good pub menu to match.
FINALISTS Steamworks Brewing Company; The Irish Heather.
RICHMOND & AIRPORT DINING
From plane geeks to globetrotters between flights, everyone flocks to this smartly appointed lounge and restaurant right in the airport (near the US terminal) for stylish West Coast plates and a tableside view of taxiing jets.
FINALISTS Flying Beaver Bar & Grill; Milestones Grill + Bar.
Sweet Treats at Thierry. (Photo: KK Law)
Thierry Busset’s elegant nod to a traditional French cafe-patisserie is a veritable pastry-and-chocolate-lover’s dream, with macarons, handcrafted chocolates, pastries, cakes and even savouries, along with superb coffee, teas and spirits.
FINALISTS True Confections; Notte’s Bon Ton Pastry & Confectionery.
To see our Whistler winners, click here.
To vote for your favourite Vancouver and Whistler restaurants in our 2015 Where to Dine Awards, click here. You could win a fabulous prize package from Rocky Mountaineer and Nita Lake Lodge!