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Tim Pawsey

4 Hoppy Havens

By TIM PAWSEY

Mussels Orleans-style,  with andouille sausage, corn, peppers and Cajun cream, at Biercraft. (Photo: KK Law)

Mussels Orleans-style, with andouille sausage, corn, peppers and Cajun cream, at Biercraft. (Photo: KK Law)

Thanks to a burgeoning craft beer scene and no shortage of savvy cicerones, Vancouver is a brew-lover’s paradise. Here’s where to get your hop on.

1. Biercraft Bistro Find an impressive array of local and imported taps and bottled beers, paired with the likes of classic French onion soup, exotic mushroom pasta, steak frites and grass-fed lamb shank.

2. Alibi Room This Gastown heritage destination focuses on true craft beers from across the Pacific Northwest, matched with equally local, gastro-pubbish plates.

3. Portland Craft This cozy and popular Main Street haunt offers a spirited salute to Oregon’s pioneering brewing scene, with casual plates and rotating taps of Deschutes, Pyramid, Rogue, Hopworks, Alameda and more.

4. Tap & Barrel These bustling mega-pubs live up to their name with a plethora of good BC pints and wines as well, all on tap, served with creative pizzas, fish ’n’ chips, salads and burgers.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Revolutionary Bistro: Homer St. Cafe

By TIM PAWSEY

Halibut, at Homer Street Cafe. (Photo: KK Law)

Halibut, at Homer Street Cafe. (Photo: KK Law)

An artful resurrection of a once humble diner, Homer St. Cafe and Bar dazzles with polished marble and brass in true brasserie style. On the classically inspired but decidedly contemporary menu: bountiful charcuterie and local cheeses, smoked magret duck, and tender grilled strip loin beef steak. The pièce de résistance? The hallmark chicken, cooked on the cherry red Grande Flame Olympia Rotisserie that rules the lower bar.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Bay Watch: Beach Bay Café and Patio

By TIM PAWSEY

Inside charming Beach Bay Café. (Photo: KK Law)

Inside charming Beach Bay Café. (Photo: KK Law)

Newly landed, almost right on the shores of the West End’s English Bay, is bright and airy Beach Bay Café and Patio. The well-designed West Coast dishes roam from delicious house-smoked steelhead trout with apricot and cream, and sweetbreads with rhubarb and roasted baby beets, to strip loin with broccoli and bitter greens, and rare albacore tuna with Swiss chard and leek terrine. Wines are smartly picked and cocktails include the aptly monikered Sailor and Sand: Sailor Jerry spiced rum, sloe gin, Fernet-Branca and more. Sign us up.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Natural Drops at Grapes & Soda

By TIM PAWSEY

Sockeye salmon paired with Puzelat-­Bonhomme Petillant Naturel Rosé, at Grapes & Soda. (Photo: KK Law)

Sockeye salmon paired with Puzelat-­Bonhomme Petillant Naturel Rosé, at Grapes & Soda. (Photo: KK Law)

Recently arrived Grapes & Soda is next door to similarly tiny and perfect Farmer’s Apprentice organic eatery. Go for the hard-to-find all-natural wines, such as Puzelat-­Bonhomme Petillant Naturel Rosé, carefully paired with the likes of smoked salmon, or the Roagna Langhe Bianco, paired with chicken balantine. Or try the Stormy Flip cocktail, paired with a wickedly refreshing sorrel sorbet with juniper meringue, yogurt and honey.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 Top Seafood Spots

By TIM PAWSEY

Fish ’n’ chips, at Go Fish. (Photo: KK Law)

Fish ’n’ chips, at Go Fish. (Photo: KK Law)

Seafood lovers revel in superb, sustainable West Coast seafood, from Dungeness crab to freshly caught sockeye, scallops and more.

1. Go Fish West of Granville Island, this outdoor eatery serves the freshest of fish ’n’ chips, fish tacos and more, often sourced from the boats moored at the dock below.

2. Pajo’s Find fresh fish ’n’ chips on a Steveston wharf, along with other locations at Garry Point Park (Steveston), Rocky Point Park (Port Moody) and Gates Park (Port Coquitlam).

3. The Fish Counter All Ocean Wise–certified seafood—such as oyster po’boys, Pacific cod tacos and, of course, fish ’n’ chips—is the real deal at this part fish market, part diner in the heart of Main Street.

4. Pier 7 Hop on the SeaBus and head to the North Shore to feast on the seafood tower for two, with oysters, scallop salad, marinated mussels, poached prawns and snow crab legs, at this happening spot right on the harbour’s edge.

5. Fisherman’s Terrace Take the SkyTrain to Aberdeen Mall for lunchtime dim sum at this popular Richmond seafood specialist that rivals the best in Hong Kong.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Top Notch Dining

By TIM PAWSEY

Rotisserie chicken (front) and Certified  Angus Beef rib-eye (back), at Notch8. (Photo: KK Law)

Rotisserie chicken (front) and Certified Angus Beef rib-eye (back), at Notch8. (Photo: KK Law)

The newly renovated Fairmont Hotel Vancouver lobby yields a clever nod to the hotel’s storied past as a flagship of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Notch8 Restaurant & Bar harks back to the old train throttles, where “Notch 8” equated to “full steam ahead.” Don’t miss: the beer bread (made with stout, comté cheese and plentiful mustard seeds), seafood hot pot, and rotisserie-prime-rib sandwich of generous proportions. Also of note: discreet booths and the tucked-away private room, complete with shelves of eminently perusable books.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Great Gastown Eats: Bao Down

By TIM PAWSEY

YVR bao (front),  A Lovers’ Quarrel bao (right) and kimchi fries (back), at Bao Down. (Photo: KK Law)

YVR bao (front), A Lovers’ Quarrel bao (right) and kimchi fries (back), at Bao Down. (Photo: KK Law)

Newly landed right across from Gassy Jack’s statue, cheekily named Bao Down revels in a fusion twist on the staple of Asian street food. Served in a high-energy setting, the ever-changing and inventive baos (steam buns) range from Two Worlds Collide, with braised pork belly, crispy pork belly, hoisin, chicharon and pickled veggies, to Jaws: coconut-crusted Vietnamese catfish, kimchi tartar sauce, micro greens and Thai vinaigrette. Sandwiches roam from grilled cheese with kimchi to The Ninja Roll. But the steamed Bao Chicka Bao Bao is hard to resist.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 Alfresco Favourites

By TIM PAWSEY

Soft-shell crab and To Kill Ya martini, at Lift. (Photo: KK Law)

Soft-shell crab and To Kill Ya martini, at Lift. (Photo: KK Law)

Patio culture truly blooms in June, albeit with heaters and blankets to ward off early-summer-evening chills.

Lift Bar-Grill-View An expansive rooftop deck and lower waterside patio lure with sweeping harbour views along with progressive West Coast fare.

Gotham Downtown’s best-kept secret is a compact, discreet private garden, populated with oversized parasols to keep the martinis chilled—and a fireplace to keep the clientele warmed.

Wild Rice Hop on the SkyTrain for an easy 30-minute trip to New Westminster, where this riverside room serves contemporary Chinese-fusion fare with casual flair.

Pier 7 The SeaBus spirits you across the harbour close to this dockside North Van room, where upper- and lower-deck patios grant impressive vistas of the working port and downtown.

The Teahouse This impressively transformed, one-time officer’s mess boasts a dramatic deck overlooking English Bay, near Third Beach, on the shores of Stanley Park.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Best Bites on Robson

By TIM PAWSEY

An assortment of  mouth-watering North African dishes at Fez Café. (Photo: KK Law)

An assortment of mouth-watering North African dishes at Fez Café. (Photo: KK Law)

Myriad flavours contribute to the multicultural feel on the west end of Robson Street. At welcoming Fez Café Bistro, nibble on lunchtime omelettes, baba ghanoush or hummus, or linger over a dinner of couscous royale or merguez, brochettes, lentil soup, lemon sole and more. The North African decor is beautiful, with live music Friday through Saturday evenings. (No alcohol served.) Find authentic Korean at Jang Mo Jib, which means “mother-in-law’s house.” Head to Guu for lively home-style Japanese, or to Tavola for fresh-made Italian pasta and small plates.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Pubby Plates at Steamworks

By TIM PAWSEY

Tropical tuna poke, at Steamworks. (Photo: KK Law)

Tropical tuna poke, at Steamworks. (Photo: KK Law)

Steamworks Brewing Company was so named because it shares the same steam source as the famous Gastown Steam Clock, immortalized on its labels. The beers are fresh and vary seasonally, with faves such as a refreshing pilsner or subtle jasmine IPA. Plentiful pubby plates range from seafood chowder, spinach and crab dip, and mushroom caps to tuna pokes, fish ’n’ chips, and filet mignon. All are offered in the dining room upstairs, the lounge downstairs, or outside on the bustling patio.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Eclectic Bites at Chinatown’s Sai Woo

By TIM PAWSEY

Have a seat at the long bar at Sai Woo. (Photo: KK Law)

Have a seat at the long bar at Sai Woo. (Photo: KK Law)

A nod to a 1930s chop suey house of the same name, Sai Woo sports a long bar, cozy booths, red brick walls and a soaring ceiling. Chef Douglas Chang balances East and West with smart, often dazzling tastes, such as pork jowl with pea agnolotti and Jinhua ham broth, sablefish with lotus root, vegetarian “sausage” with crispy tofu, and irresistible Coca-Cola chicken wings. Tempting drops? The Sai Woo Sour and the Beijing Sling, as well as tall and refreshing kombucha, on tap.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

15 Notable Newcomers

By TIM PAWSEY

Gyonza Bar + Ramen. (Photo: KK Law)

Gyonza Bar + Ramen. (Photo: KK Law)

Vancouver’s dining scene is dynamic and constantly changing, as these pace-setting newcomers from 2014 prove. (New restaurants that are 2015 Where To Dine Award winners are not included on this list)

THE ABBEY Creative West Coast fare, good pints and well-sourced wines are the order of the day at this stylin’ gastropub on Gastown’s edge.

AMICI MIEI This simple but smart family-run room offers fresh-daily house-made pasta plus a host of traditional Abruzzo dishes.

ARC The Fairmont Waterfront’s flagship room curves graciously around the main floor, serving regionally inspired specialties.

AU COMPTOIR Go early to get a seat at this popular Parisian-inspired bistro on West 4th Avenue.

ASK FOR LUIGI This cozy no-nonsense spot in Railtown consistently over-delivers Italian-inspired fare.

THE BELGARD KITCHEN Railtown’s multitasking brewery and winery is also home to a well-run casual restaurant serving regional fare.

BISTRO WAGON ROUGE Locals pack into this reinvented docklands diner for bistro classics and great local brews.

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

BOULEVARD KITCHEN & OYSTER BAR The Sutton Place Hotel’s stylish room lures with contemporary seafood specialties, from caramelized jumbo scallops to roasted sablefish and more.

CINARA Modern European tastes are served in a relaxing but sophisticated early-20th-century room.

GYOZA BAR + RAMEN Find a clever update on traditional ramen and gyoza in a warmly refurbished heritage setting.

LEFT BANK This lean-lined room sports an airy feel to go with modern French-inspired West Coast plates, live music and a laneway heated patio.

MY SHANTI Vikram Vij’s latest (in Surrey) is a bold and tasty salute to the regional cuisines of his native India.

PIZZA FABRIKA This fun pizzeria on Robson’s west end is bare-bones but welcoming.

STEEL TOAD BREWPUB & DINING HALL The impressively restored former Opsal Steel Building is home to a spacious pub and microbrewery with worthy plates and pints.

THAI CUISINE BY MONTRI Find perfect pad thai, chicken satay and wok-cooked crunchy greens, smartly matched with spice-worthy wines.