LA Chowhounder Visiting Vancouver / Victoria
Hi all -
My family and I will be spending the holidays in both Vancouver and Victoria and it's been a while since we've spent time there. We will be spending about 3 days in each city, and thus any good restaurant recommendations would be appreciated.
Here are some specifics:
-We need a place to eat in Vancouver for Christmas - nothing too fancy (my mother doesn't want to dress up) or expensive. Doesn't have to be typical XMas dinner, as in we've eaten Thai for Christmas before, so we're open to anything.
-Just some general restaurant favorites that are of good value, casual, and any type of cuisine works because we are not picky.
-How is the Dining Room at the Empress? My dad is thinking of splurging here for Xmas Eve dinner, but I want to make sure we are not missing out on something better that's comparably priced.
Thanks for all your help!
Victoria: I would skip the Empress, except maybe for cocktails in the Bengal Lounge.
For a splurge, I think Rosemeade http://www.englishinnresort.com/dinner.php is a far better value. It's a bit out of the downtown area, though (actually, it's in Esquimalt, which is about 10min drive from the downtown core).
Niche http://www.nichedining.com/ is closer to downtown, and also might be a nice option.
In Vancouver, there are lots of favourites that get brought up on this board frequently (Chambar, West, etc.) I agree with fmed that it's good to keep in mind that Vancouver offers amazing Chinese food (I like Kirin, and, if you're willing to go to Richmond, Top Gun and Shanghai River). Vancouver also does Japanese Izakaya really well (Guu, Kingyo, etc).
Wholeheartedly endorse twinkienic's recommendation of Rosemeade over anything at the Empress. The "tired, old lady" must have had better days but I have never experienced them. The Empress is like so many Canadian railway hotel institutions, they just do not have to care because like the tide, there is always another wave of tourists who just have to have tea at the Empress.
We almost went to Niche during our last visit but opted for another newcomer Stage instead. I have heard and read good things about Niche. A good addition to the Victoria dining scene.
My two favourites are Brasserie L'Ecole and Cafe Brio, each of which have web-sites if you want to follow up on them. Casual [dress up or dress down], friendly busy spots. Bistro influences fare with an emphasis on local ingredients.
For more formal dining others have recommended the French cuisine at Matisse.
Camille's off Bastion square had been solid in the past but we have not gone back in a number of years not because we disliked it but more because we prefer the charm of Brio and Brasserie.
Paprika in the Estevan Village toward the Oak Bay Village is reputed to be very good, solid Hungarian influenced fare [same owners as Stage], charcutterie and the like. We have been meaning to check it out, trip after trip but run out of "meals" by the time we have gone to our old favourites.
For a nice view and pretty good seafood, the Marina in surprise, surprise the Marina in Oak Bay is pretty good. Mind you being from LA the view may not be as big an issue for you as it is/was for us "landlocked Albertans".
I can't speak to Victoria in generla, but if it isn't for tea, the Empress isn't great. In Vancouver, Aurora Bistro is great. fmed's suggestions are all good, but Brix has had some hygiene issues. Do you prefer ethnic or not? Simply Thai in Yaletown in really good too, since you like thai it seems? Avoid the THai House chain like the plague.
Vancouver has so many good restaurants these days. Try any of the following: West, Guu, Salt, Aurora Bistro, Brix, etc.
Remember that Vancouver has some of the best Chinese food anywhere...try some hole in the wall noodle shops if you have the time.
Try Sun Sui Wah (Chinese Seafood) for Christmas if the are open. Order the King crab.
Vancouver also has good cheap sushi. Too many to list...I like Honjin on False Creek near Yaletown.
Victoria: Not too familiar with the food scene there but I was never impressed by it...one place I can recommend is the Sooke Harbour House outside of Victoria.
Forget the Empress (sorry).