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Tim Pawsey

Serious Steak

By TIM PAWSEY

Gotham serves mouth-watering steaks and cool cocktails. (Photo: KK Law)

Gotham serves mouth-watering steaks and cool cocktails. (Photo: KK Law)

A downtown destination that celebrates with unabashed flair and opulence, Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar lives up to its reputation for superb, 28-day dry-aged, prime Alberta beef, paired with vintages from one of the city’s most extensive cellars, displayed on an interactive iPad list. Start out at the art deco–inspired cocktail bar, perhaps with a classic Manhattan, before settling into the plush, wood-panelled main room. Highlights range from an impeccable porterhouse to bone-in New York strip to two sizes of filet mignon, plus seafood selections and steak-and-marine combos. The well-executed lunches lean towards lighter fare, such as lobster bisque, tuna Niçoise, a hand-peeled shrimp sandwich and Dungeness crab cakes with lemon-dill mayonnaise.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

West End’s Left Bank

By TIM PAWSEY

John Blakeley at Left Bank. (Photo: KK Law)

John Blakeley at Left Bank. (Photo: KK Law)

John Blakeley (of Bistro Pastis) recently opened edgy, modern Left Bank in the space that over four decades saw various incarnations of Café de Paris. The result is a clean-lined room with an airy feel that complements Spencer Watts’s French-inspired menu, highlighted by tempura green beans, spicy albacore tuna cone, crispy ling cod, steak frites with Szechuan peppercorn sauce and dark chocolate tart with green tea anglaise. Also new is the West End’s first laneway patio, seasonal but heated, already a popular hangout.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 Italian Haunts

By TIM PAWSEY

Bruschetta (front), braised meatballs (R) and potato doughnut (L), at Nicli’s Next Door. (Photo: KK Law)

Bruschetta (front), braised meatballs (R) and potato doughnut (L), at Nicli’s Next Door. (Photo: KK Law)

These neighbourhood “go-to” haunts offer a slice of la dolce vita, and more.

1. Nicli’s Next Door Adjoining pizza specialist Nicli Antica Pizzeria, this cozy space yields inspired cicchetti (think Italian tapas) plus a worthy wine selection.

2. Bufala This Kerrisdale pizzeria yields a superb array (including an irresistible margherita) but don’t miss the smoked olives or the full-on roasted mortadella.

3. Nook Go early to these laid-back spots—in the West End (just a few steps from Georgia at Denman) and across from Kits Beach—known for fresh pasta and well-chosen vino.

4. BiBo This lively Kits spot offers the classics, from hand-made fresh-daily pasta to traditionally certified Neapolitan pizza baked in a wood-fired oven.

5. Ask for Luigi This friendly, tucked-away neighbourhood find in Railtown (just east of Gastown) offers family-style plates of handmade pasta and good wines to match.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Thai Redux

By TIM PAWSEY

Yum nua (beef salad). (Photo: KK Law)

Yum nua (beef salad). (Photo: KK Law)

After a seven-year absence, Montri Rattanaraj has returned to Vancouver to open Thai Cuisine by Montri, in Kitsilano. The celebrated chef shops daily for fresh, local ingredients and flies in Thai specialties as needed. Dishes are deeply heated rather than overtly spiced, prepared according to taste, and very detail driven. Montri’s pad thai remains a standard bearer, as do the chicken satay, stuffed chicken wings and delicious pak boong (wok-cooked crunchy greens). Sommelier Jonathan Lai offers a smartly picked selection of Thai-worthy wines, including Germanic and BC aromatics and plenty more.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Notable Newbie: Boulevard Kitchen

By TIM PAWSEY

Boulevard’s seafood tower is sure to satisfy. (Photo: KK Law)

Boulevard’s seafood tower is sure to satisfy. (Photo: KK Law)

With reams of Italian marble, white oak floors and sparkling chandeliers, the newly unwrapped Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar at the Sutton Place Hotel is as stylish and polished as anticipated. On the seafood-inclined menu: marine specialties with contemporary flair, such as a cornucopian seafood tower, caramelized jumbo scallops and roasted sablefish, as well as grilled rib-eye, a premium burger and more. Expect meticulous but friendly service from one of the city’s most well-honed crews.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Sealed & Delivered: Postmark Brewing

By TIM PAWSEY

Fill a growler or stop in for a pint at Postmark Brewing, located in the Settlement Building

Fill a growler or stop in for a pint at Postmark Brewing, located in the Settlement Building

The craft beer boom continues unabated, with the arrival of Postmark Brewing (pictured) in Railtown’s already well-populated Settlement Building, home to Vancouver Urban Winery, The Belgard Kitchen and others. Chief brewmaster at this notable newcomer is award-winning filmmaker Craig Noble, whose recent successes include CRAFT, a documentary about the craft brewing scene across North America. Noble, a certified cicerone (beer sommelier), is often on hand to pour tastes of Postmark Pilsner, Stout, Red IPA and others, perfect before—or with—a bite at The Belgard.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 Pampering Panoramas

By TIM PAWSEY

Alder-grilled salmon trio  with shrimp and spinach risotto. (Photo: KK Law)

Alder-grilled salmon trio with shrimp and spinach risotto. (Photo: KK Law)

The Salmon House Grab a cab across the Lions Gate Bridge for alder-grilled salmon at this original seafood specialist, perched high above West Vancouver.

The Teahouse Stanley Park’s one-time officer’s mess is now a taste-filled destination, where the spectacular sunsets seem almost as close as Third Beach below.

Five Sails Savour sweeping views of Coal Harbour and Stanley Park, along with classically grounded, exquisite continental dishes, from the glass-wrapped third-floor atrium of the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Globe@YVR This well-kept secret in the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel serves detail-driven Pacific Northwest plates, with a front-row view of all the comings and goings planeside and mountain views beyond.

Pier 7 Hop the SeaBus to this two-tier room for its expansive ocean vista of the harbour and downtown, with local marine-inclined cuisine to go along.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Shoreside Bites

By TIM PAWSEY

(Front) Sexy Salad: crispy oysters, avocado, root vegetable chips and preserved lemon. (Back) Braised lamb shoulder. (Photo: KK Law)

(Front) Sexy Salad: crispy oysters, avocado, root vegetable chips and preserved lemon. (Back) Braised lamb shoulder. (Photo: KK Law)

Perched right on the promenade, small-plates specialist Ten Ten Tapas turns out a wide variety of tasty plates to share while you gaze at your dream yacht moored close by. Flavours are vibrant and dishes inventive, such as seared albacore tuna tacos with tropical fruit and ponzu ginger emulsion; butter chicken with peas, paneer and naan bread; and generous Dungeness crab cakes with lemon garlic aioli. Inside or out on the patio, all day until late night, the service is laid-back and friendly, with plentiful cocktails and wines that make for perfect lingering.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Pleasantly Pubby

By TIM PAWSEY

Pork pie accompanied by  a pint of Guinness. (Photo: KK Law)

Pork pie accompanied by a pint of Guinness. (Photo: KK Law)

Pop by the West End’s Fat Badger and you’ll find more than a hint of what’s helped to put the UK back on the dining map. Chef and co-owner Neil Taylor hails from Berkshire, which bestows full licence for “serious” pub food with a local twist in a conversation-friendly, TV-free setting. Recent favourites include whisky-cured salmon, pork belly and terrine. But don’t miss the Scotch eggs; the trio of Yorkshire puddings with roast beef, gravy and horseradish; the sinfully good sticky toffee pudding—or the parade of appropriate taps, from Smithwick’s to Guinness to Kilkenny and more.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Blacktail Florist’s Elevated Plates

By TIM PAWSEY

Salad of spring vegetables and mushrooms. (Photo: KK Law)

Salad of spring vegetables and mushrooms. (Photo: KK Law)

Up a few stairs off Gastown’s Water Street, Blacktail Florist, a casual but polished haunt, brims with local taste and creativity. Myriad choices may roam from Humboldt squid with rhubarb and celery slaw, to wild mushroom poutine, to roasted duck breast with sunchoke, onions and watercress. A well-chosen wine list of BC’s top drops makes for perfect—and still very regional—pairings.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Idyllic Dining Escape

By TIM PAWSEY

Chef Michael Genest of Hart House. (Photo: KK Law)

Chef Michael Genest of Hart House. (Photo: KK Law)

Tucked away in Burnaby’s scenic Deer Lake Park, about 15 minutes from downtown, Hart House Restaurant is housed in a gracious, mock-Tudor manor, with lawns stretching down to the water’s edge. After cooking around the world, chef Michael Genest landed here to craft Pacific Northwest–inspired specialities such as Dungeness crab spaghettini, halibut duo, seared lamb loin and Brome Lake duck breast. Or go for the three-course, $36 prix fixe and take time to savour selections from the extensive, award-winning wine cellar.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Gourmet Parisian Pastries

By TIM PAWSEY

An array of desserts found at Faubourg. (Photo: KK Law)

An array of desserts found at Faubourg. (Photo: KK Law)

Faubourg, a trio of smartly appointed, chandelier-bedecked, gourmet bakeries, transports you to Paris, with the look and feel of a fashionable cafe on the Champs-Élysées or Boulevard Saint-Germain. Owner Franck Point, who hails from Lyon, oversees meticulously made croissants (including pistachio or almond-paste-filled, and pain au chocolat, of course), baked fresh throughout the day. Other temptations range from flaky mille-feuille topped with Chantilly cream to impeccably made macarons, not to mention the dessert of the month, plus an array of delicious breads (baguette, brioche, etc.), excellent coffee and polished, prompt service.