Vancouver: is West worth it?
Calgary hound will be in Vancouver at the end of the month, dining solo. Wondering if West is worth the try, or should I spend my time and money someplace else?
I tried West two years ago when I was in Vancouver and found it underwhelming. They most likely would have changed kitchen staff since then as people in the industry move around a lot so perhaps someone has been there more recently and can give you better opinion. When I went, I thought it was overhyped and overpriced for what we had. None of the dishes impressed me. They were alright.. there was nothing wrong with them... a solid preparation for a restaurant of that class.. but certainly, there was nothing spectacular about them either. The service was great as one would expect of a restaurant of this class.
Too bad Feenie's and Lumiere Tasting Bar is no more. They used to be my favorite restaurants. I've actually had a couple of dishes there that totally wowed me. I haven't had an opportunity to go to DB Bistro yet so I don't know how it is.
Lately, on my recent trips to Vancouver, I keep on going back to Vij's. If you haven't tried it, I think it's definitely worth your while. My favourite dishes are the portobello mushrooms in the porcini curry as an appetizer and the lamb popsicles for an entree.
If you like sushi, you may want to try Octopus Garden for their omakase. I really enjoyed it. The chef does some creative stuff. I loved the shooter with the uni. The most memorable piece of sushi I had contained foie gras, lobster and mango. Definitely an interesting and delicious combination.
I went a few weeks ago and I continue to be very impressed. I hadn't been in a few months and had started to think of Market having taken it's place as my favorite gourmet, local-cuisine place. It's definitely pricey, but I really think they do amazing work with all local ingredients.
was there, solo, last week and had a great meal, Yes, it was expensive - tasting menu, wine and generous tip = $250 - but i think it was worth it. Same trip, I dined at Blue Water and Fuel, had 6 course menu at each...West was both most expensive and best, Fuel next on both accounts and BW 3rd. Value wise, Fuel might be better choice, and you can ask for a seat at the bar and watch chefs and discuss what they are doing (I learned a lot from the woman making appetizers!)
Thank you all for the recommendations. I was thinking of West and Blue Water, and hey maybe Vij's too, though that's sounding ambitious.
Any problem with dining solo at any of these places? I am concerned especially with Vij's because of the wait involved: I guess I could end up making friends in line and all, but I'm worried I would feel guilty occupying a table by myself with others waiting in line... Do they have space for single diners?
I felt completely comfortable at a table for 2 at West. It was a Sunday evening and they weren't very busy, but evenif they were I wouldn't have felt differently. Blue Water, however, felt a bit...I don't know...the place was just so lively and loud it made it a bit tough to read (I had a book with me at both places). If I were going back to BW alone I might ask to sit at the sushi bar.
My short answer is No - its totally not worth it. Head to Vij's or Cru (right in the same neighbourhood) for much better experiences. Better chance of chatting some fellow diners up at Vij's. Tojo's is close too. Enjoy!
Based on the advice here and at other threads on chowhound, I dined at West, Blue Water and Vij’s (and a couple of other places too).
West was first, where I decided to go all out, and ordered the tasting menu with wine pairing. The amuse bouche was not especially interesting – that’s about as critical as I could get. Everything else was exceptional: the tian of crab, couscous and gazpacho was especially creative, almost too pretty to eat (but too tasty not to); the foie gras terrine; the risotto; the pork cheeks was the simplest of the dishes, rich and wonderful; an excellent cheese course and I especially enjoyed the dessert. The wine pairings were excellent (you could argue that the pairing of a 10 year old port with the chocolatey dessert was not especially creative , but it was by no means a bad choice), and the pours were generous – I was glad I was walking back to the hotel. The service was professional, maybe just a bit cloying for someone dining alone; the room was warm and busy early on a Saturday evening. It was one of the most expensive meals that I have eaten anywhere recently, but also one of the best.
The next day I munched along through Granville market, had lunch at Go Fish! (lots of fun, tasty salmon sandwich and fish taco, worth the wait) then dinner at Vij’s. I was lucky, the wait was only around 40 minutes and it was comfortable inside at the bar, enjoying a glass of wine and a couple of free mostly deep fried snack things which were okay. As background, I love Indian food, although I’ve generally been underwhelmed by food at more creative, upscale “modern” Indian restaurants in London and New York. The exception was the first time I dined at Vij’s a few years ago, where my wife and I were impressed by the food and service. I started with a Punjabi Heart Attack: cashews and fat, sure I liked it, although I was not so sure about the acidic chaser. Then the porcini mushrooms: rich of course, a little salty , but good. Then the famous lamb popsicles with rice and naan. Again, good, the flavors seemed a bit muted. Kulfi to finish, also good. The service was attractive and attentive and friendly, the room was warm and busy. The wine was good value, nothing especially exciting, but everything that I tried paired well (a bit of white, a bit of red) which is not easy with spicy food. I certainly had nothing to complain about, I just wasn’t wowed this time. Maybe it was because I was dining alone: I’ve always found Indian dishes are better shared, a chance to try more tastes and not be overwhelmed by a single strong tone. I will go back again, but not alone.
The next day ended up on a Japanese theme. At lunch I wandered into Kingyo on Denman Street. I felt that somehow I walked in from the rain, and straight into Tokyo, into the kind of warm and friendly and authentic place that you want to find there but often eluded me. The special bento, with a dozen tasty different dishes, wonderfully prepared and presented, and a pot of some special green tea, came to less than $20. Absurdly fantastic value. Later a snack at Japadog: a kurobuta pork terimayo dog: what a wonderful fun place, a mighty fine and mighty unusual and tasty dog. Finally, tasty things on sticks, a tasty spinach gomaae, a nice warm Nikomi beef stew and a bottle of black Asahi lager at Zakkushi in Kitslano. Fun and tasty too.
The last day I caught the south Indian vegetarian buffet at Saravanaa Bhavan: wonderful sharp flavors and a wide range of tastes and textures, a couple of fresh masala dosas served at the table. At around $12 it was exceptional value. Dinner at Blue Water: I was staying on Granville Island, so I took an aqua bus over to Yaletown, arriving by water made it more fun. After all the Japanese food the day before, I decided to stick to the European side of the menu. The waiter talked me into trying a special appetizer, kobe beef short rib stuffed ravioli – good but heavy. I had an excellent view of the raw bar and the fine workmanship displayed there, and regretted my appetizer choice – next time I would definitely start with a selection from the raw bar. For a main course I had the arctic char: although it didn’t look like anything special, it was delicious. Excellent wine pairings by the sommelier, excellent and friendly service. I finished with the Cuban chocolate something dessert, warm and wonderful, and a glass of 1960 Armagnac which put me in an especially good mood for the ride on the wee bobbly acqua boat back to my hotel. Expensive (sure, especially when you added in the Armagnac, but it was my last night....), not as expensive as West, definitely a fine night out.
I enjoyed everything that I tried, everywhere I went, including and especially West. You Vancouver hounds are lucky.