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Tim Pawsey

4 Cozy Corners

By TIM PAWSEY

Franco Felice, at Cafe Il Nido

Franco Felice, at Cafe Il Nido. (Photo: KK Law)

1. Cafe Il Nido Franco Felice’s long-running Italian resto is tucked into a courtyard within the heritage Manhattan building at Thurlow and Robson. Savour inventive Northern Italian plates such as balsamic-glazed wild sockeye salmon or penne with sautéed wild mushrooms and thyme cream sauce. Most pastas are also offered gluten-free. (more…)

Vancouver’s Marine Cuisine

By TIM PAWSEY

Herring, an unsung hero found at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar (Photo: KK Law)

Herring, an unsung hero found at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

No surprise that seafood abounds in this ocean-bound town. Drop by bustling Sun Sui Wah for mid-day dim sum, or go later for the Alaskan king crab, squab, Peking duck or chilled seafood platter. For those wanting to try less familiar tastes, Yaletown’s Blue Water Cafe obliges with its annual Unsung Heroes menu, featuring the likes of barnacles, mackerel and herring, in addition to seasonal staples such as arctic char, ling cod and sablefish. Right downtown? Drop by Yew in the Four Seasons for a bowl of chef Ned Bell’s corn “chowda,” overflowing with smoked black cod and Okanagan apples. It was the big winner in the recent Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown.

For more from Tim Pawsey visit hiredbelly.com

Beautiful Brewpub

By TIM PAWSEY

Stunning industrial architecture at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall

Stunning industrial architecture at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall

The hottest new destination in the ongoing craft brew revolution is Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall, housed in the impressively restored former Opsal Steel Building. The ceiling is high and the surroundings airy and bright in this one-time industrial space. The brewery itself is on full view behind a glass wall, where British-style bitter, saison, stout and other beers are made in small-batch tanks. On the menu: inventive pizza, sandwiches, shepherd’s pie, rillettes, steak frites and more.

For more from Tim Pawsey visit hiredbelly.com

Neighbourhood Finds

By TIM PAWSEY

(clockwise from front) "Big boy" chop with lentils and salsa verde, aged beef carpaccio, delicata pizza, "celebration" salad, and salumi board, at Campagnolo

(clockwise from front) “Big boy” chop with lentils and salsa verde, aged beef carpaccio, delicata pizza, “celebration” salad, and salumi board, at Campagnolo

A short walk from Science World and BC Place Stadium, Main Street’s Campagnolo is a lively, taste-filled haunt filled with hearty, rustic tastes. An abundance of choice roams from chicken liver with foie gras pâté, a cornucopian salumi board, and tagliatelle with pork ragù to lobster risotto, chestnut gnocchi, and spaghetti al pomodoro—not to mention plentiful pizza. In Davie Village, climb a few stairs to discover Gurkha Kitchen’s Himalayan plates. Or find great steaks and well-chosen wines to match at Yaletown’s warm and welcoming Hamilton Street Grill.

For more from Tim Pawsey visit hiredbelly.com

Spots for Lingering Lunches

By TIM PAWSEY

Pasta with Salish mussels and saffron sauce, at L'Abattoir

Pasta with Salish mussels and saffron sauce, at L’Abattoir

Gastown’s cobbled streets yield a wealth of lunchtime lures. Soak up the sunlight in L’Abattoir’s heated atrium over prix fixe offerings of casual but precise plates. Faves range from albacore tuna salad to superb beef bourguignon to duck rillettes, as well as an irresistible à la carte beef dip. For perfect Neapolitan pizza, head to Nicli Antica. Or visit The Sardine Can, just off Maple Tree Square, for early evening tapas and sherries.

For more from Tim Pawsey visit hiredbelly.com

Elevated Pub Fare at The Abbey

By TIM PAWSEY

Try modern comfort food at The Abbey

Try modern comfort food at The Abbey

The Abbey, a clean-lined, sexily lit modern room, close to theatres and arenas, offers a riff on the contemporary British gastropub, with good draught beer on tap (Bomber ESB, Driftwood Fat Tug and Red Racer Pale Ale), smart wines and cocktails. Sophisticated comfort food revels in local flavours and ingredients, including herbed roast chicken, seared rare albacore tuna Niçoise, and Toulouse sausage and mash, as well as classics such as Welsh rarebit and sausage rolls with de rigueur Colman’s mustard.

For more from Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

4 Asian Adventures

By TIM PAWSEY

Ocean Wise kaisen tomato ramen at Gyoza Bar + Ramen (Photo: KK Law)

Ocean Wise kaisen tomato ramen at Gyoza Bar + Ramen. (Photo: KK Law)

In this cosmopolitan town, myriad Pacific Rim flavours tempt at every turn.

1 Gyoza Bar + Ramen Find an edgy but cozy updated take on traditional ramen and gyoza in a warmly refurbished heritage setting. Go for the teppan gyoza served in a sizzling cast-iron pan, but don’t miss the kaisen tomato ramen brimming with fresh Ocean Wise seafood (pictured).

2 Banana Leaf This friendly, brightly decorated, casual chain celebrates all things Malaysian with wide-ranging cuisine from the heart of the Spice Route, such as rendang beef and Singapore chilli crab.

3 Kingyo Always hopping, this West End izakaya caters to a loyal following with polished small plates ranging from tantan noodles to miso-marinated black cod to pork tenderloin tempura.

4 Pink Elephant Thai Boldly fuchsia-toned, this Alberni Street haunt lures a lively crowd for smart cocktails, fusion dishes, and classic Thai tastes such as chicken satay, hot and sour soup, spring rolls, and spicy lettuce wraps with a choice of meats and tofu.

For more from Tim Pawsey, go to hiredbelly.com

Bella Gelateria’s Sweet Treats

By TIM PAWSEY

Award winning James Coleridge

Award winning James Coleridge (Photo: KK Law)

The first full-service room from gelato maestro James Coleridge, Bella Gelateria in Yaletown offers his celebrated gelato with other Italian treats such as Neapolitan pizza. Coleridge’s latest invention is the Gelatini: think affogato but with gelato instead of ice cream and a martini in lieu of coffee. Tiddly temptations abound, from Saffron Persia to Matcha Smasha to Wild Evita (salted caramel with scotch).

For more from Tim Pawsey, go to hiredbelly.com

Mahony & Sons: Irish Escape

By TIM PAWSEY

Guinness with a view at Mahony & Sons (Photo: KK Law)

Guinness with a view at Mahony & Sons. (Photo: KK Law)

Hop aboard the Aquabus (directly from the foot of Davie Street in Yaletown) to reach this newly unveiled, lavish Mahony & Sons, right on the False Creek waterfront at Stamp’s Landing. Drop by for casual bites such as fresh oysters on the half shell, thin-crust pizzas and burgers. Or tuck into classics such as Irish stew, Guinness-battered fish ’n’ chips, (Irish) bangers and mash, and plentiful West Coast chowder. Best-kept secret: the upstairs private room.

For more from Tim Pawsey, go to hiredbelly.com

Spanish Modern

By TIM PAWSEY

Small bites at Salida 7 please all palates (Photo: KK Law)

Small bites at Salida 7 please all palates. (Photo: KK Law)

A block from Gastown’s Maple Tree Square, newly landed Salida 7 heralds a Spanish resurgence. The two-tier room and bar revels in its Catalan roots, with contemporary-styled tapas as well as classically grounded, sophisticated entrées. Early faves include steamed mussels, escalivada with sardines and extra virgin olive oil confit, Catalonian seafood soup with saffron aioli, and traditional fideuà: baked garlic vermicelli and Dungeness crab served paella style. Wines include no shortage of good cava and many unique labels from across Spain.

For more from Tim Pawsey, go to hiredbelly.com

Chambar: Belgian Deluxe

By TIM PAWSEY

Chevreuil et chutney at Chambar (Photo: KK Law)

Chevreuil et chutney at Chambar. (Photo: KK Law)

A few steps from Rogers Arena and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Belgian-influenced Chambar cossets with its red-brick heritage interior, long bar and bustling lounge. Chef Nico Schuermans and his wife Karri have created a sustainable, ethically raised, all–Ocean Wise menu that’s also highly inventive. Favourites roam from pan-seared scallops (with mint pea purée and tandoori papadum) and moules frites congolaise to lamb shank tajine and venison short loin. Wines are well chosen, often unique and always thoughtfully paired, and cocktails are smartly conceived, at this carbon-neutral, stylish emporium.

For more from Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

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