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Calling all chowhounds!!!!Where would you take a James Beard nominated chef to eat in Vancouver?!?!

My husband and I will be in Vancouver for a week with our friends and know NOTHING about the food scene there. We are serious foodies (albeit not snooty ones... we enjoy the French Laundry and our beloved Quince in SF but we bestow as much admiration on a great San Francisco hole in the wall taco)
Anyhow....we do need help here.
I am currently in New Orleans (eating!!!!), the holidays will be right on us when we return home and I have NO time to research my options. I am relying on the wisdom of my fellow chowhounds.
I want a couple of REALLY GREAT, OVER THE TOP, SPECIAL OCCASION restaurants, a few GREAT but I don't want to get THAT dressed up places, and a few ethnic or local good eats.
If familiar with San Francisco, we'd say, Gary Danko or Michael Mina for cat 1, Boulevard and Quince for cat 2, and Slanted Door and Taylors refresher for Cat 3.
PLEASE Help!!!!!
We'll be there Jan 3rd and need to make reservations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  1. What a challenge. I'll take a stab:

    Vij's (Cat 3)
    Gastropod (Cat 2)
    Fuel (Cat 2)
    La Buca (Cat 2)
    Parkside (Cat 1)
    Boneta (Cat 2)
    Daniel Boulud's new restuarants (DB Bistro Moderne, and Lumiere) (Cat 1)
    Cibo/Uva (Cat 1)
    Bishop's (Cat 1)
    The Pear Tree (Cat 1)

    Vancouver and environs are famous for its Chinese food too if that is an option.

    5 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      You are a godsend fmed!!! We are not adverse to Chinese - in fact one of my favorite meals here in New Orleans was the Vietnamese lunch we had yesterday (and I thought I knew this town!!!).
      Love your taste... had time to do a quick look prior to my post and Vij's and Boulud rest. jumped out at me. Please tell me your thoughts (if any) on Aurora, Blue Water, "C" Restaurant and La Garroche?!?!

      1. re: ccmurieta

        Aurora would have been on the list...but it just shuttered, sadly. Blue Water is fantastic. C is excellent - but I haven't been in quite a while (and actually prefer Blue Water for its slightly more Japanese influenced menu and excellent wine and sake lists).

        I should add Cioppino's (Chef Pino Posteraro).

        The Chinese option is a bit overwhelming (we have many good Chinese places). Sea Harbour and Shanghai RIver would be my two "Vancouver Sampler" recs.

        Other members of the forum should come along with their recs.

        1. re: ccmurieta

          Aurora unfortunately is closed. Haven't been to the other 3 you're asking about, but I know Blue Water gets good reviews.

          1. re: peter.v

            Wow, that's too bad about Aurora! I found it on Food & Wines 2008 "Go To" List. This economy is just hitting everyone across the board.
            SF papers say that some restaurants are looking at a 40% drop in business (even worse than the dot com bus and that was UGLYt!)

        2. re: fmed

          I second Vij's ( go early or after 8 pm), Bishop's and La Buca
          I would add West, Blue Water and Tojo's Okamase
          and, why not, Go Fish

        3. I really enjoyed Vij's. Great place for the 'not so snooty'

          4 Replies
          1. re: sarah galvin

            For a (cat 1) experience, West has consistently been regarded by many locals as one of the city's finest restaurants. I have not been there since the new chef started, though.

            For more of a cat 2/3 experience, Chambar rarely disappoints. Great drinks at Chambar.

            Oh, I almost forgot! Bishop's is a local institution, kind of like what Chez Panisse is to the Bay Area. John Bishop championed the localvore movement in Vancouver more than two decades ago, and I understand that his standards remain high to this day. Nobody I know has ever talked about being disappointed after a meal at Bishop's.

            1. re: anewton

              Thanks so much - Bishop sounds spot on. I am going to forward my friend the list and we'll start booking. Will post reviews at he end of the trip.
              Thanks again for all who posted suggestions

              1. re: ccmurieta

                Not sure that anyone has mentioned, but Vij's, although fabulous food, does not take reservations so either go very early or plan on spending a lot of time waiting in the bar (if you are lucky) or in the rain (if you are not).

                1. re: J and V

                  No one has mentioned it. Yes ccmurieta - be forewarned. Get there early.

          2. For category 3 I suggest Phnom Penh. Anyone I've taken there who really loves food loves it.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Mawson Plan

              Cat 1: West (constantly rated Vancouver's top restaurant... although new chef hasn't been as consistent), Lumiere (WAS always one of the best.. Boulud just bought it, re-opens tonight!), Blue Water (always very, very good with a great raw bar), Bishops (already mentioned), Cioppinos (city's best Italian)

              Cat 2: Vij's (already mentioned, outstanding. Get there early), Fuel (outstanding, restaurant of the year last year),

              Cat 3: Go for something that we do really well. Regional Chinese, very good, well priced sushi (Lime), or somewhere 'casual' like Boneta (outstanding service and food, a lot more casual. This is where Jean Georges had (one of his) media events when he was in town), Phnom Penh (outstanding Cambodian) is another great recommendation.

              If it was me, I would go: Lumiere, Fuel, Boneta.

              1. re: Cancuk

                These are all great recs for you, cc -- not much to add except hope you enjoy. Will be looking forward to your reports (hint hint) as I spend a bit of time in your hometown and am interested to hear your thoughts on the Vancouver dining scene.

                1. re: grayelf

                  I appreciate all of the suggestions - they all sound great which makes choosing even more daunting!!
                  My friend and his wife will be in Vancouver for 6 lunches and 6 dinners we will be joining them for 3 each of those.
                  I am leaning toward Lumiere, Blue Water, Bishops, Fuel, Gastropod, Vij's, Lime & Boneta. Have been doing some reading on Connor Butler...what are your thoughts? Also, I had "C" and Chambar on my list.
                  Since you are familiar with the San Francisco restaurants I frequent I am curious as to which Vancouver restaurants you would pick for 3 lunches and 3 dinners (if cost was not a factor)?

                  1. re: ccmurieta

                    To say I am familiar with SF restos is a big stretch -- I only wish I were but with 4300 and counting that is a dream only :-). Since you ask though and FWIW, I think I'd do Blue Water, Bishop's, Vij's and/or Boneta for the dinners -- all because they all have very nice ambiance, you will get good food and they are somewhat "only in Vancouverish." I don't eat lunch out very often so I'm not much help there but ck1234 just posted a review of lunch at Conor Butler here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/579704

                    1. re: grayelf

                      Thanks for the insight. Will be there from the 8th -12th & will post all my "reviews" shortly thereafter.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        I second the choices of Blue Water, Bishop's and Vij's as being representative of the Vancouver restaurant set. i have not been to Boneta.

                  2. re: Cancuk

                    Boneta is loved but overpriced and not amazing. Lime is hugely expensive and not nearly as good as Toshi on Main. Lumiere just reopened and is said to be quite good sans Rob Feenie.

                    1. re: Mawson Plan

                      "Lime is hugely expensive and not nearly as good as Toshi on Main."

                      No doubt Lime is more than most sushi places in town but it seems to me it is going for a different experience than Toshi. Not that I've actually eaten at Toshi -- the perma-lineups are 'way too daunting. It would be fun to do a back-to-back comparison of say, the tuna sashimi at both places...

                      1. re: Mawson Plan

                        Lime vs Toshi....sorry Mawson - I can't agree with you there.

                        I'll grant that Toshi's is a few notches better than the typical 'lunch grade' sushi, however. My own experiences at the two restaurants lead me to contrary opinion to yours.

                        1. re: Mawson Plan

                          Lime is an outstanding Japanese restaurant, solely quality considered, I would say top three in the city.

                          Toshi' s isn't even close to the same league. For what you get at Lime, the prices are very, very reasonable.

                          I think some dishes at Boneta, especially they're "cold plates", are over priced. But their mains are very reasonable and please go with three friends and order the 32 oz Steak and then tell me it's not amazing.

                          1. re: Mawson Plan

                            I also have to completely disagree on the Lime vs Toshi debate.
                            Lime has interesting offerings which are well executed and utilize extremely fresh fish. I've been disappointed twice (out of 2 visits) at Toshi's.

                        1. OK, I'm going to throw this out there.....what about Connor Butler? I've never been, but all reviews that I've read have been fantastic. And where else can you eat on Versace plates?? (A Cat. 1, by the way)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Quattrociocchi

                            Excellent question, Q. I was wondering the same thing, while I'm sure I need to experience Bishop's, CB lingers in the back of my mind. Perhaps some of the more savy locals can define the qualities that bring each to the table (apologies, pun intended).

                            1. re: PolarBear

                              ironically i remarked in a recent post about how incredibly little press or even mention on this board cb gets considering the little i have heard has been very possitive, no-one seemed to have a real grip on it especially considering its fairly central location

                              1. re: vandan

                                I eat at cb quite often and have asked chef b himself why I never see him advert. around town. He says he prefers word of mouth. It seems to be working for him. I did see him on youtube, though. Nice guy with a lot of charisma and love for food and wine.