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Tim Pawsey

2017 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Seafood tower at Ancora. (Photo by KK Law)

Seafood tower at Ancora. (Photo by KK Law)

Welcome to our 21st annual awards issue. Much more than merely a contest, Where to Dine celebrates Vancouver as a global dining destination. This is a city that validates the openness, cultural awareness and exuberant curiosity that define Canada, through acceptance and exploration of all cuisines. We salute the chefs, servers, sommeliers and restaurateurs who make this place such a food-lover’s paradise.

Critics’ Choice 

LES CLEFS D’OR CANADA SILVER SERVICE 
Ancora

When it comes to the inside scoop, the concierge is your best friend. Vancouver’s Les Clefs d’Or are tireless in their search for dining excellence—and happily recommend those who consistently over-deliver.

This waterfront gem on the downtown side of False Creek blends Peruvian, Japanese and other influences with fresh West Coast ingredients. Such licence yields Aji-panca-glazed sablefish, seared scallops with pork belly, and grilled steak with yuca fries, autumn vegetables and chimichurri. (more…)

Leadership Award: David Hawksworth

By TIM PAWSEY

Chef David Hawksworth.

Chef David Hawksworth.

Few individuals have had as much impact on Vancouver’s dining scene as David Hawksworth. Arguably the city’s most high-profile chef, Hawksworth is pre-eminent as the driving force behind Hawksworth Restaurant and the recently opened, more casual Nightingale.

With the first restaurant’s launch and enduring success (Vancouver Magazine named it best upscale restaurant five years in a row), he helped cement the return of fine dining in the post-recession era. Not content to rest on his laurels, in 2013 he launched the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Competition, which annually awards $10,000 to the winner and provides considerable exposure. The chef says his motivation for establishing the competition and scholarship stemmed from his time in the UK, where “there are lots of great cooks.” (more…)

Beyond Sushi

By TIM PAWSEY

Indulge at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. (Photo: KK Law)

Indulge at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. (Photo: KK Law)

Long-running Kobe Japanese Steak and Seafood House preceded the sushi craze by a few decades. Ingredients are freshly prepared, presented tableside and cooked teppanyaki style with tremendous flair. Go for the impossibly tender Wagyu beef, teriyaki chicken, and seafood combo. For more casual fare, head to pub-style Zakkushi on Denman to find an abundance of charcoal-grilled meat, seafood and vegetable skewers. Hunker down at local faves Gyoza King or Guu, both on Robson, for good Japanese home-style dishes in a cheerful and friendly setting.

For more by Tim Pawsey www.hiredbelly.com

Downtown Delight

By TIM PAWSEY

Roasted semi-boneless half chicken. (Photo: KK Law)

Roasted semi-boneless half chicken. (Photo: KK Law)

Tucked away in the Moda Hotel, Cibo Trattoria is a gem of a bistro in a sensitively restored heritage setting. The classic Italian dishes have a bit of a modern twist and use organic ingredients. House favourites include chitarra con vongole of saffron pasta with Salt Spring Island clams, an excellent charcuterie and salumi platter, short ribs braised with tomatoes and red wine, and pan-seared Mediterranean sea bass. The cellar yields a wealth of serious Italian drops, as well as regional and global offerings.

For more by Tim Pawsey visit www.hiredbelly.com

Edgy Asian

By TIM PAWSEY

Delicious dishes are served up at the Heritage Asian Eatery. (Photo: Amy Ho)

Delicious dishes are served up at Heritage Asian Eatery. (Photo: Amy Ho)

A new generation of chefs is pushing the boundaries of traditional cuisines. At downtown’s Heritage Asian Eatery, regulars revel in Felix Zhou’s breakfast crepes such as shiitake mushroom or pork jowl, as well as a plethora of bao, rice bowls and salads. On Main Street, Clement Chan’s minimalist but cozy Torafuku uses local ingredients in cheekily names plates such as Rye So messy (chicken wings) and Quack Addict (barbecue-duck spring rolls). In Chinatown, Tannis Ling’s Bao Bei rocks modern small plates with Taiwanese, Sichuan and Shanghainese influences, plus savvy wines and cocktails. Meanwhile, Kissa Tanto, Ling’s Japanese-Italian collab with business partner and chef Joel Watanabe, looks to be the most popular table in town.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit www.hiredbelly.com

Elegant Interval

By TIM PAWSEY

Holts Cafe serves dishes such as beetroots with goat cheese cannelloni. (Photo: KK Law)

Holts Café serves dishes such as beetroots with goat cheese cannelloni. (Photo: KK Law)

For the ultimate in-store sustenance, newly landed Holts Café (in Holt Renfrew) obliges with an impressive array of plates, from quick bites to mains and desserts. The smart and elegant room invites lingering over the lobster and Pacific shrimp roll, tuna seared rare on brioche with roasted red pepper relish, or Salt Spring Island mussels, perhaps with a glass of wine. Desserts are equally tempting, as is the extensive selection of teas and organic juices, plus well-chosen wines from BC and around the world.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Glorious Gluttony at Dine Out Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Some of Vancouver's top food trucks are part of the Dine Out Festival.

Some of the city’s top food trucks are part of Dine Out

Jan 20-Feb 5 In this city’s dining scene, the start of the new year means one thing: Dine Out! Over the last 15 years, the 17-day Dine Out Vancouver Festival has turned into Canada’s biggest celebration of food and drink, and for good reason. With a wealth of special events, tours, tastings and, above all, dinner deals, this all-things-comestible festival adds up to one enormous celebration of Vancouver’s blossoming dining culture. Every year the number of restaurants offering set menus grows, with three-course dinners offered at $20, $30 and $40, as well as some lunches. Many include optional wine pairings, yielding a chance to discover BC VQA wines.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Man on a Mission

By TIM PAWSEY

Chef Curtis Luk delivers tasty bites at Mission. (Photo by: KK Law)

Chef Curtis Luk delivers tasty bites at Mission. (Photo: KK Law)

Chef Curtis Luk doggedly abides by his sustainable mantra. At Mission, in the heart of Kitsilano, Luk’s forte is four- and six-course tasting menus, offered with a vegetarian option, as well as well-matched wine pairings. The à la carte menu shifts weekly but typical highlights are duck croquettes, roasted cauliflower with pumpkin-seed dressing, Humboldt squid risotto, and braised beef cheek.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Seafood Dynasty

By TIM PAWSEY

The Salmon House is famed for its seafood specialties. (Photo: KK Law)

The Salmon House is famed for its seafood specialties. (Photo: KK Law)

Four decades ago, The Salmon House on the Hill was the first local restaurant to give salmon its rightful due, highlighting the First Nations tradition of cooking on alderwood planks. Today’s wide-ranging menu has evolved into an impressive showcase of regional cuisine matched with the best of BC wine. Perched high above West Vancouver, the glass-wrapped room yields a breathtaking marine and city panorama.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit www.hiredbelly.com

Try a Cocktail Within a Cocktail at Prohibition

By TIM PAWSEY

Bartender Brad Stanton pours the innovative Inception Negroni. (Photo: KK Law)

Bartender Brad Stanton pours the innovative Inception Negroni. (Photo: KK Law)

Ante up for the Inception Negroni at Prohibition, and you’ll be wowed. This truly ingenious drink is actually a classic red Negroni sealed in a cleverly crafted ice sphere, within a white Negroni of Broker’s Gin, Martini Bianco and Suze. The extraordinary two-tone blend evolves as red melts into white. The drink that’s lured cocktail aficionados to fly in from as far away as the UK is complex to prepare, so only a score or so are made each day. Go also for the great bites, from chicken wings to truffle fries, and stay for the live jazz Wednesday through Saturday.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit www.hiredbelly.com

French Fare at Le Crocodile

By TIM PAWSEY

Chef Michel Jacob prepares high-end French specialties. (Photo: KK Law)

Chef Michel Jacob prepares high-end French specialties. (Photo: KK Law)

For the ultimate in all things French, reserve a table at Michel Jacob’s cozy, burgundy-trimmed Le Crocodile. Flavours of Alsace and beyond define this detail-driven cuisine, delivered with impeccable but also discreetly understated service. Standouts include foie gras terrine with ice wine gelée, tarte à l’oignon, pan-seared veal sweetbreads, and sautéed true Dover sole with classic beurre blanc. Wines, expertly paired, roam from Bordeaux to Burgundy to the best of the Okanagan.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit www.hiredbelly.com

Yummy Shopping Stops

By TIM PAWSEY

Bel Café

Bel Café

For tasty bites between stores, options abound. Pop by Bel Café at Georgia and Howe for the freshest pastries and sandwiches, plus gluten-free options. Well-named Nosh at Telus Garden proffers a choice of wraps and salads, as well as Glowbal’s celebrated meatballs. Head to the top of Pacific Centre for small plates at Nordstrom’s Bistro Verde. Or just cuddle up in a corner at The St. Regis Bar & Grill for stuffed Yorkshire puddings or poutine—and a pint, of course.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit www.hiredbelly.com