Many thanks to everyone who provided suggestions for my weekend in Vancouver. The weather truly cooperated (after a brief hail (?)storm Friday night...see below) and we had such a great time. Vancouver is a tremendous city both in terms of natural beauty, demeanor of it's residents (man, everyone is nice...must be b/c they are lucky enough to live here) and quality of chow!!
Here's the run down:
Friday - arrived mid afternoon and headed to Granville Island, since it was sunny and I thought it was going to rain the rest of the weekend. Needed to celebrate some good news and wound up at the SandBar - which looked just ok but after being seated on the roofdeck on comfy leather recliners (w/blankets for potential chills), I thought I was in heaven. Just snacked on some BC bubbles and wok fried squid (really more steaks than rings) as we had a heavy night lined up.
Started the evening (Gastown Crawl night) at Chambar - WHAT a great restaurant. Had mussels here (in a tomato / coconut curry broth). Wish we could have stayed for an entire meal. Loved the vibe, the bartenders (and cocktails), the decor etc.
Next headed to Boneta. Did not love the chow here (tartare app ok but overpriced; main of scallops, short ribs and several other tastes had way too much going on and everything, including the meat and sadly, the scallops, were really overcooked). Silver lining: the mgmt was VERY cool about it and turns out the owner himself wanted to handle it...after providing us with a little amuse of dessert (above and beyond) he WALKED US TO THE NEXT DESTINATION b/c we didn't have a big enough umbrella and he wanted to make sure we got there safe and sound. OK, that's nuts. That would NEVER happen in SF and the people here are nice too! Love this man so would support his restaurant and try it again in a heartbeat.
Last stop for the night was Salt Tasting Room (2 min walk from Boneta). No kitchen here - 100% cheese and charcute. How can you go wrong? I wrote down our selections (we had 2 plates; each plate comes w/your selection of 3 fromage or charcute and 3 condiments) but can't find that right now. I do remember the far and away highlight was the brooklyn corned beef - go figure. yum. I love deli. I guess it was good b/c we wound up wrapping the leftovers in napkins and stuffing them in my purse to eat back at the hotel...cause yeah, you guessed it, we really needed more food. Right.
Saturday - after a 10 mile walk around Stanley Park and various parts of the city, we found ourselves BACK at the SandBar. I know this is not haute dining. Don't hit me. We could not resist the platter of crab, shrimp and oysters we saw pass by the day prior and didn't feel like fish n chips at the Fish Shack place (I know, the best food on Granville). However, I feel t was the right call karmically, if not chowishly, b/c we once again scored the same 2 magnificent seats on the roofdeck.
Saturday night, time for the izakaya crawl. First, we did the uber tourist thing and watched the sun set over the surprisingly nice day at the rotating restaurant 2 blocks from our hotel on Robson (maybe it was called Empire Hotel?). We then walked to Kingyo - king yum. Lots of salmon various sashimiesque ways. We tore ourselves away and hit Guu. Hm. Probably our least fave of the trip. Not bad, just not greeeat (I kept talking like tony the tiger there...not sure why but could have been the vodka and grapefruit cocktails, watered down as they were (what do you expect for $4?)). Oh btw, it was Guu Garlic. Last stop.....but of course, Cin Cin for dessert. OK, not the most natural call but hey, I wanted an "adult" cocktail and this is a nice watering hole (with very ornate desserts served as "packages").
Sunday, time for dim sum - we wound up at a place called Floata in Chinatown, b/c Sun Sui Wah, Kirin and other recommended places didn't fit into our route. We trusted our concierge (maybe a mistake but it was ok). Neither of us LOVE dim sum but we did agree it was better than at home (SF) - just still kind of a "good, we checked that off...let's not get too full so we can go somewhere else in 2 hrs" kind of experience.....and where we wound up was at an Italian coffee shop/bakery on Commercial, where we dove into canoli, napoleons, and biscotti, with lattes. Yum. So kill me, we're europhiles at heart.
Last night, we just could not muster up the requisite excitement for West and decided to leave that for trip #2, which will happen very soon, I assure you....West gets such rave reviews we knew we needed to be in a better / more pure / clean "food frame of mind".
We stopped off at Bin 941 (I think that is the #...it was the one on Davie, which is the first one) for a drink and had a snack there - they were out of the salmon brandade and the waitress recommended the hummus w/navajo fry bread...not so shockingly, this was "ok" and leadeded but hey, it's hummus and bread so what can you expect? we still loved the vibe and here is another place I really want to go back and have a full meal at! We tore our stomachs away and cabbed to Vij's. I was really ready to be underwhelmed b/c I always seem to poo poo the most hyped spots. Maybe it helped that it was now after 9 pm on a Sunday but in any event...we were REALLY pleasantly surprised. We had the lamb lollipops (doh!) and the chicken ("is it really boring to get the chicken?", I asked "I'm kinda fished out and anyway, ling cod...ummmm"). Both were really special and I get why everyone says that this joint takes Indian cuisine to a new level. I wish we had something like this in SF (Dosa, no)
That was the food recap. I so enjoyed my weekend in this really special city and can't wait to come back. My sincere thanks to all who provided their thoughts and insights. I can only hope this write up gives the next visitor some helpful tidbit.
re: Beach Chick
Yes! well, kind of. we actually went to the Caffe Artigiano near our hotel (about 6 blocks from Jervis/Robson), and I am guessing you were referring to my coffee commentary from the Commercial jaunt. I'm trying to remember the name of the bakery we went to on commercial - I do recall it was (a) across the street from starbucks and (b) right next door to a wonderful cheese/italian deli shop (which was making pretty good looking paninis).
LOVED Artigiano as well - and it was fun b/c we were in there right after the big 10K race ended Sunday AM (also got a great view of the runners from the balcony of the hotel room) so lots of happy runners ready for a cup of joe.
Great writeup, laaronson. It sounds like you had a pretty chow-ish time despite your demurrings (is that a word?). Especially interesting to hear your thoughts as we have just returned from 4 days in your fair city about which I will post soon on the SF board. You've lit a fire under my butt to get to Kingyo, as I have been greatly remiss. Thanks!