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Tim Pawsey

Farmer’s Apprentice

By TIM PAWSEY

Chef David Gunawan. (Photo: KK Law)

Chef David Gunawan. (Photo: KK Law)

In a city of locavores, it’s no surprise that chefs David Gunawan and Dara Young’s compact, organic Farmer’s Apprentice is gaining attention. Tastes and textures at this rustic room, just across the Granville Street Bridge from downtown, are as wide ranging as they are innovative. The menu shifts not only with the season but by the week, or even daily, depending on which sought-after heritage varieties of produce or meat land on the couple’s doorstep. Past highlights have ranged from pan-seared sweetbreads with egg yolk, celeriac and parsley emulsion; to steelhead trout with roasted artichokes, smoked olives and grapefruit emulsion. More traditional appetites can choose perfectly grilled Angus rib-eye with onions, porcini mushrooms and beet jus. Wines are as thoughtfully sourced as the food and, in keeping with the organic mantra, all biodynamic.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 French Finds

By TIM PAWSEY

Steak tartare topped with an egg yolk, at Bistro Wagon Rouge. (Photo: KK Law)

Steak tartare topped with an egg yolk, at Bistro Wagon Rouge. (Photo: KK Law)

Bistro Wagon Rouge Beef cheeks Bourguignon, cassoulet and steak frites are just some of the top draws at this East Side diner, reinvented and rediscovered by locals.

Les Faux Bourgeois This bustling room brings new life to the unlikely backwater of Kingsway and Fraser. Go for the tarte flambée, choucroute, duck confit and more.

Salade de Fruits Cafe South Granville’s worst-kept secret is a tiny space in Le Centre Culturel that packs ’em in for frogs’ legs and coquille St. Jacques.

Provence Mediterranean Grill Polished West Side retreat not far from UBC welcomes with a sunny disposition and classic variations such as West Coast bouillabaisse, prawns provençale and more.

The French Table Long-time downtown chef Hervé Martin pulled up stakes for South Main and never looked back. Go for the croque monsieur, Burgundy fondue and friendly but polished service.

Top Thai

By TIM PAWSEY

Chef Angus An. (Photo: KK Law)

Chef Angus An. (Photo: KK Law)

Hailed as the best Thai dining in town, Maenam uses locally sourced, organic ingredients, blended in traditional and contemporary styles. Chef Angus An, who cooked under David Thompson at London’s nahm (the first Michelin one-star Thai in the world), has a reputation for vibrant plates underpinned by seamless spicing and refreshing detail. Recent additions to house mainstays such as green papaya salad, crispy fried oysters and green curry halibut include the perfectly pan-fried, eight-spice, crispy ling cod. The wood-clad room is gently understated but dutifully focused on the bar, whose innovative cocktails also break the mould. Wines are thoughtfully chosen, sometimes featuring smaller, hard-to-find BC boutique producers, but always well matched—not an easy task with occasionally fiery dishes such as these.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Meals That Go Beyond

By TIM PAWSEY

Butter-poached  Humpback prawns  with shellfish velouté  and English peas. (Photo: KK Law)

Butter-poached Humpback prawns with shellfish velouté and English peas. (Photo: KK Law)

Beyond Restaurant & Lounge, the contemporary-styled lounge and restaurant tucked away in the Century Plaza Hotel, offers innovative tastes with a Mediterranean twist, thanks to the recent arrival of chef Moreno Miotto. Go for the lobster ravioli or carnaroli risotto with wild mushrooms, and stay for chicken breast “al forno” or delicious butter-poached Humpback prawns with shellfish velouté. Good bar bites and a Sunday brunch buffet add to the appeal.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Coffee and Doughnut Hot Spot

By TIM PAWSEY

Coffee is served!
Coffee is served! (Photo: KK Law)

In a city not short on good coffee, 49th Parallel sets itself apart, buying direct from farmers in Honduras and elsewhere. With a focus on premium and specialty blends, these laid-back lounges are magnets for serious java heads. And the house-made Lucky’s Doughnuts yield treats such as orange honey pistachio, or the un-doughnut-like but irresistible Long John, filled with vanilla cream and topped with chocolate ganache.

Second Salt Tasting Room Opens

By TIM PAWSEY

Interior of Salt Tasting Room

Inside the Salt Tasting Room (Photo: KK Law)

Recently opened in Kits, Salt Tasting Room is shaking things up on the West Side with complementary and contrasting tastes of local meats, cheeses and condiments. Drop by the sibling to the Gastown original for slices of hot D Original Ostraya sausage and peach jam, with Bartier Scholefield gamay rosé; or Okanagan goat cheese and Similkameen honey, with Haywire pinot gris. Tastings come in flights of three, with plentiful chances to mix and match from the choices on the chalkboard. Knowledgeable staff are happy to lend a hand matching wines of every kind from the well-chosen cellar.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 Post-Stroll Blustery Bites

By TIM PAWSEY

Grilled Scallops, at Cardero's (Photo: KK Law)

Grilled Scallops, at Cardero’s (Photo: KK Law)

No visit to Vancouver is complete without a bracing walk on the seawall. Afterwards, whether downtown or in Stanley Park, there’s always a worthy place close by for a good bite.

1. Cardero’s: Savour chilli prawns, salmon burgers or “fish ’n’ chops” against a scenic harbour backdrop. Or grab a pint in the pub.

2. The Fish House in Stanley Park: Find seafood of every kind, served in the park, close to English Bay.

3. Cactus Club Cafe: The West End’s stylin’ beachside haunt delivers plates from star chef Rob Feenie and clever cocktails to go along.

4. Provence Marinaside: Enjoy laid-back French fare served with flair in the heart of False Creek, near Yaletown.

5. Mahony & Sons: Tuck into a cozy snug (corner) for a pint of Guinness and some Irish stew at this well-panelled pub on the very tip of the Vancouver Convention Centre’s west building.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Bivalve Bonanza

By TIM PAWSEY

At Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

At Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

There’s no mistaking the main business at hand at newly minted Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar, although the Creole- and Cajun-influenced plates roam well beyond shellfish, gumbo and grits to brisket and rib-eye, with lashings of garlic mashed potatoes. Portions are generous, including a “big glass” wine option, and fun cocktails are served by enthusiastic staff in a contemporary setting. Don’t miss Dale Klippenstein’s dazzling brass-instrument sculpture over the northeast entrance.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Granville Gourmet

By TIM PAWSEY

Confit tart, at The Stable House Bistro. (Photo: KK Law)

Confit tart, at The Stable House Bistro. (Photo: KK Law)

Known for its tony stores, South Granville also boasts good taste on the plate. Wander into The Stable House Bistro to discover a cozy, welcoming neighbourhood haunt. On the menu: locally focused soups, salads, cheeses and charcuterie, as well as delicious savoury tarts, seared wild sockeye and more. Close by, Mediterranean-kissed Siena is the perfect pre-theatre choice for porcini ravioli or mushroom truffle risotto, while award-winning West offers impeccably served, artfully contrived regional cuisine, from line-caught ling cod with chorizo and bacon vinaigrette, to pork rack with apple cider jus. Find more casual bites (and breakfast plates) at Paul’s Omelettery, Southern specialties at Ouisi Bistro or West Coast tastes at laid-back Luke’s Corner Bar & Kitchen.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Molluscs & More in Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Frank Pabst with herring, an Unsung Hero at Blue Water Cafe. (Photo: KK Law)

Frank Pabst with herring, an Unsung Hero at Blue Water Cafe. (Photo: KK Law)

Vancouver leads the way in serving sustainable seafood. No further proof needed than chef Frank Pabst’s Unsung Heroes menu, offered through Feb. at Yaletown’s polished Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar. Pabst celebrates more unusual species, like herring, octopus and mackerel, in eminently tasty style, in addition to house classics such as Arctic char, ling cod and sablefish. For a bowl of the tastiest, creamiest spot prawn chowder in town, head to two-time Chowder Chowdown winner Forage. To track down the nearest sustainable seafood dish, download the Ocean Wise iPhone app, with 3,000 partners listed across the continent, including Coast Restaurant and The Fish House in Stanley Park.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

3 Sensuous Escapes

By TIM PAWSEY

Pino Posteraro with oxtail ravioli, at Cioppino’s. (Photo: KK Law)

Pino Posteraro with oxtail ravioli, at Cioppino’s. (Photo: KK Law)

Valentine’s may top February’s bill, but Vancouver boasts no shortage of romantic rooms in which to woo your beloved all year round. (more…)

Malty Mainstay: Fets Whisky Kitchen

By TIM PAWSEY

The well-stocked bar at Fets Whisky Kitchen carries an extensive collection of scotch. (Photo: KK Law)

This well-stocked bar is home to an extensive collection of scotch. (Photo: KK Law)

Single-malt sleuths track down the town’s most extensive collection of scotch and other origins at Fets Whisky Kitchen, a friendly, well-stocked purveyor on lively Commercial Drive. Whether you’re inclined to Islay, Speyside, Lowland, Highland or Island, you’ll find it here, and more, with excellent plates to match. Aficionados book in for regular gatherings of the worldwide Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which releases single-cask monthly bottlings with tempting monikers such as All-Day American Breakfast and Lip-Smacking Chewy and Chunky.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com