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Tim Pawsey

2016 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Beef chow mein, at Torafuku. (Photo: KK Law)

Beef chow mein, at Torafuku. (Photo: KK Law)

Welcome to Where’s 20th annual celebration of Vancouver’s remarkable dining scene. In just a couple of decades the city has blossomed into a culinary crossroads, a melting pot of myriad flavours, unbridled talents and influences that now shape a global destination. Our chefs, servers, sommeliers, growers, fishers, farmers and vintners share in a culture driven by sustainable, regional and seasonal sourcing—in the firm belief that the best is still to come. (more…)

2016 Where to Dine Awards: Whistler

From bustling après-ski spots to refined rooms, Whistler’s dining scene has tastes to satisfy every palate. Where’s globetrotting readers weigh in on the flavours that left an impression long after the last bite

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Bar Oso serves up fresh albacore tuna. (Photo: Kevin Clark)

Bar Oso serves up fresh albacore tuna. (Photo: Kevin Clark)

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Bar Oso
Decked out in striking black-and-white tile, chic Bar Oso brings tapas-style small plates and inventive cocktails to the heart of the Village. Spanish-inspired flavours and local ingredients meet in house-made charcuterie, pintxos (small bar bites on a skewer) and chilled seafood dishes. Wash it all down with the Oso Sour, made with bacon-infused bourbon and maple syrup.
(more…)

Leadership Award: Rob Feenie

By TIM PAWSEY

Feenie

Cactus Club Cafe’s Chef Rob Feenie

Ask Rob Feenie where he’s going to be next week, and chances are he’ll mention anywhere but Vancouver. Recently, the team at Cactus Club Cafe has opened numerous locations across the West, as well as a new flagship in Toronto. Since leaving his much-celebrated Lumière and joining Cactus Club as executive chef, Feenie has helped shape Vancouver’s culinary culture in ways that most could never have imagined.

Feenie works with every chef in the group on a regular basis, to develop skills and techniques across the board. “My relationship is directly with the chefs who run the restaurants,” he says. In particular they focus on items for Feenie’s Feature Sheet, which is introducing West Coast Ocean Wise ingredients such as sablefish, albacore tuna, ling cod, Lois Lake steelhead trout and even Northern Divine caviar to Canadians across the country. The chef imprinted much of his personal style to help Cactus Club win West Coast hearts. “But who would have thought sous-vide duck confit would become a Cactus Club staple?” he says with a laugh.

Ask Feenie which of the chefs who’ve passed through his kitchens continue to impress, and he’ll rattle off a list of Vancouver luminaries, as well as numerous up-and-comers.

Where salutes chef Rob Feenie for his vision and leadership, and for the indelible mark he’s made on Vancouver’s—and Canada’s—food culture.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

East Side Italian: Osteria Savio Volpe

By TIM PAWSEY

Osteria Savio Volpe dishes up grilled squid with endives. (Photo: KK Law)

Osteria Savio Volpe dishes up grilled squid with endives. (Photo: KK Law)

A short hop from downtown, newly landed Osteria Savio Volpe is already a hit. Locals pack in below the soaring ceiling for rustic, seasonal flavours. Black kale and pecorino marry with zesty lemon pepper dressing for a deliciously healthy salad, while bagna càuda brings vegetables and bread together for hot anchovy and garlic “fondue.” A wood-fired half chicken is appealingly singed. Wines are smart, and the service informed and genuinely friendly. Best to go very early, as the spot is always bustling.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Top Spots for Xiao Long Bao

By TIM PAWSEY

Shanghai-style soup dumplings, or Xiao Long Bao, at Lin Chinese. (Photo: KK Law)

Shanghai-style soup dumplings, or Xiao Long Bao, at Lin Chinese. (Photo: KK Law)

The culinary cognoscenti flock to Lin Chinese Cuisine to savour superb Shanghai-style dumplings: Xiao Long Bao, little packets of pork, are handmade daily. Served in a bamboo steamer, they yield a flood of warm broth in a juicy explosion of flavours. Other mainstays include tea-smoked duck, lemon chicken, and spicy wontons with peanut and garlic sauce. Find more XLB at Dinesty, Long’s Noodle House and Peaceful Restaurant.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

10 Places to Indulge in the West End

By TIM PAWSEY

Burrata with prosciutto,  at Nook. (Photo: KK Law)

Burrata with prosciutto, at Nook. (Photo: KK Law)

Home to a wealth of small restaurants, the West End revels in myriad flavours. Along Davie Street, upstairs Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen offers subtly spiced Tibetan and Nepalese plates, from soups to curries to momos (steamed or pan-fried dumplings packed with chicken, vegetables or yak). Nearby Kadoya rolls out some of the most inventive sushi in the city, while just off Burrard, tiny and perfect wine bar Latab matches small plates with a unique list of natural wines. (more…)

Sweet & Savoury: Thierry

By TIM PAWSEY

Quiche Lorraine with thick-cut bacon and mushrooms, at Thierry. (Photo: KK Law)

Quiche Lorraine with thick-cut bacon and mushrooms, at Thierry. (Photo: KK Law)

Polished and sophisticated, Thierry enjoys a well-earned rep for its seductive smorgasbord of sweet treats. Regulars at Thierry Busset’s Parisian-styled cafe and patisserie also indulge in tempting sandwiches, created by chef Quang Dang of West Restaurant. Made with bread baked fresh daily in-house, faves range from tuna Niçoise with sherry dijon dressing to avocado and mozzarella with lemon aioli, plus a selection of quiches—including, of course, quiche Lorraine.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Vij’s Redux

By TIM PAWSEY

Vikram Vij relaxes in the  new, expanded restaurant  on Cambie Street. (Photo: KK Law)

Vikram Vij relaxes in the new, expanded restaurant on Cambie Street. (Photo: KK Law)

The man who transformed the face of Indian cuisine, Vikram Vij has upped stakes for Cambie Village, several blocks east of his South Granville room. The dazzling larger space sports a jewellery box–inspired decor, sparklingly elegant but far from fussy. Most of the classics for which Vij’s is famous have made the trip. They range from beef short ribs in cinnamon and red wine curry to rainbow trout in coconut and fenugreek masala, not to mention the legendary lamb “popsicles” in fenugreek cream curry, on turmeric and spinach potatoes. Another constant: Vikram himself, most often with welcoming chai in hand.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Romantic Retreat

By TIM PAWSEY

Tagliatelle with truffles, at La Terrazza. (Photo: KK Law)

Tagliatelle with truffles, at La Terrazza. (Photo: KK Law)

The mood at Yaletown’s La Terrazza is unapologetically romantic, with an elegant lounge and dining room wrapped in frescoes and swag curtains under soaring ceilings. Lovebirds book in for classic and contemporary Italian fare ranging from grilled beef tenderloin to veal cheek with ravioli alla parmigiana to slow-braised ossobuco with pancetta tomato ragù and creamy mascarpone polenta.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 Wine-Savvy Rooms

By TIM PAWSEY

Lisa Haley decants wine at L’Abattoir. (Photo: KK Law)

Lisa Haley decants wine at L’Abattoir. (Photo: KK Law)

Vancouver boasts a vibrant wine culture, with many restaurants offering a plethora of choices by the glass and often a range of wines on tap.

L’Abattoir: Inspired picks from wine director Lisa Haley pair perfectly with the French-inclined West Coast fare, all served in a Gastown heritage setting.

Hawksworth: Boasting the most sommeliers in town, this cutting-edge West Coast restaurant has a standalone, glass-enclosed wine room in the midst of the action.

Siena: This casual neighbourhood spot sports a small but well-chosen list of Mediterranean drops, with special Monday-night deals.

Cactus Club Cafe: Sommelier Sebastien Le Goff runs an evolving program that marches in tune with renowned chef Rob Feenie’s cuisine.

Cibo: This Italian-inclined restaurant holds regular tastings and wine dinners, with particular emphasis on regions such as Valpolicella, Tuscany and Sicily.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Hy’s Steakhouse is Raising the Bar

By TIM PAWSEY

Wash down a jumbo prawn cocktail and smoked bacon sliders with (from L-R) an Old Fashioned, a Gin Fizz and a (still being mixed) Manhattan. (Photo: KK Law)

Wash down a jumbo prawn cocktail and smoked bacon sliders with (from L-R) an Old Fashioned, a Gin Fizz and a (still being mixed) Manhattan. (Photo: KK Law)

The city’s longest-running steakhouse never sported a true bar—until now. Once reserved for private events only, the second-floor space above the venerable main room of Hy’s has been tastefully refurbished to include a full bar as well as a panelled lounge beyond sliding doors, which can be closed for privacy as needed. On the menu: cocktail classics with modern flair and highlights from the group’s 60-year history, such as prawn cocktails, Dungeness crab cakes and cheese toast.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Coastal Canadiana: Timber

By TIM PAWSEY

Chef Chris Whittaker serves up a bison burger with cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and pickles, at Timber. (Photo: KK Law)

Chef Chris Whittaker serves up a bison burger with cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and pickles, at Timber. (Photo: KK Law)

With its logging-themed decor—complete with Swedish saws and welcoming stuffed beaver at the door—Timber offers a tongue-in-cheek salute to BC’s lumber industry, with a slice of retro on the plate. Casual choices include mushroom poutine, a substantial bison burger, chilli-and-maple-glazed chicken wings, fish ’n’ chips, and elk tourtière, all perfect for pairing with an array of good local brews and wines.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com