2 week visit to BC
My husband and I are leaving on 9-9-10 for 2 weeks in BC including 3 days in Vancouver, 2 in Lake Louise, (well not IN) 1 night in Jasper, 3 days driving across northern BC to the Prince Rupert ferry to Port Hardy and then on to Victoria for 3 days with a final day in Vancouver. Phew. We are from the Portland, ME area and I confess that we love seeing our own Casco Bay lobsters on the ads for Granville Market, etc. but that's where our interest ends. I was in a bad car accident 3 years ago resulting in my needing to use crutches or a wheelchair and this is our first post accident vacation which in itself is pretty interesting. However, I also used to be a professional cook and had my own catering business so I am a food person from too far back to talk about. So far what we have decided on, I think, is Le Crocodile as a special treat for our 26th anniversary, and Shanghai Chinese Bistro (I understand I get to take a freight elevator- cool!) but that is it. We are staying downtown-ish but will have a car or can take accessible public transport or a cab. I understand the Granville Market on Saturday isn't to be missed nor is Go Fish. Stanley Park, the museums, looking for salmon to ship back home... We thought about Italian but I Il Giardino sounds like it has service issues. Cioppino sounds great though. How about lunch places? The Observatory was recommended but the menu seemed a bit precious...good for lunch or "casual dining." How about suggestions for Victoria? I haven't found many recent reviews or recommendations for Vancouver Island. Are there thoughts about where to meander to in northern BC? All suggestions and ideas will be happily received. Thanks in advance from an eastern locavorista.
Shanghai Chinese Bistro
1124 Alberni St, Vancouver, BC V6E1A5, CA
Le Crocodile Restaurant
909 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z2N2, CA
For Victoria, I'd echo the Red Fish Blue Fish recommendations and add:
the Superior Cafe - very cool room, good food when I was last there in July, friendly service. I'd go there for lunch. Very relaxing.
Spinnakers brewpub which also has a guest house operation. Great craft beer, locally sourced food. The nicest way to get there is on the little harbour ferries, but you'll have assess that given your crutches. Otherwise it's a 5 minute drive from downtown. They also have an outlet called Sips close to downtown which focuses on wine/food pairings.
If the weather's nice, Barbs Fish and Chips at fishermens wharf is just a fun outside eat. Exactly what it says on the tin, and yummy to boot. I'm pretty sure its all ramps, no stairs.
Brasserie L'ecole is a highly regarded french bistro type restaurant. Great fish, great wine, lovely service, very nice room. Right near Chinatown.
If you want to splurge in Victoria, the Oak Bay Marina's Sunday Brunch is in a great oceanfront room and has more food than you can possible imagine.
Victoria also has some lovely local coffee shops. Habit is my personal favourite. Friendly staff who explain what they're serving. Lots of magazines that you can read. Level entry room with lots of seating options.
Red Fish Blue Fish
1006 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W, CA
Oak Bay Marina Restaurant
1327 Beach Dr, Victoria, BC V8S2N4, CA
1715 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W1Z4, CA
Agree with Kittetty about Phnomh Penh in Chinatown. I really like their banh xeo, which is like a crispy crepe filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts.
As for fish and chips, if you were planning to try out Go Fish, I suggest you wait until you come to Victoria and go to Red Fish Blue Fish. Nicer scenery, bigger eating area, and I *think* more menu options.
Red Fish Blue Fish
1006 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W, CA
Agree with PP in C'town -- one of the few places worth eating there now, alas. There are better and cheaper Vietnamese places on Kingsway but it is worth going just to try their deep fried squid. I'm not a fan of the df chicken though, and the two times I had the butter beef it was tough. I haven't tried the banh xeo there yet. The oyster omelettes seem to be very popular as well. And if they have anything with squash blossoms, yum. Be aware that there is a fair amount of communal seating at PP, the service can be on the crabby side of brusque and the room is utilitarian at best.
Agree with sumashi to wait for RFBF in Victoria. I want to love Go Fish more than I do. Last two times I went the fish was just okay, and the fries have never floated my boat. Much prefer all that I've had at RFBF and it is a very cute setup, so convenient to the float planes and downtown (there are ramps all the way down to it BTW). Menu is a bit more wide ranging also, including one of my favourite guilty pleasures, the venerable deep fried pickles :-).
If you want to compare seafood, Chinese is probably your best best. SSW is a popular choice, but there are many other options, particularly if you are willing to travel to Richmond. I'm not familiar with Shanghai Chinese Bistro, what made you pick it? One non-Asian place that might be worth checking out for seafood is Fishworks on Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver. I've only been once but it was very good, with the chef obviously knowing what to do with simply prepared fresh fish and seafood without charging a claw and a leg. This seems a hard thing to find at all in our little berg.
Le Croc will be great for your special day -- congratulations! We are heading to Lupo for our 10th anniversary tonight, first time I've been since it was renovated/rejigged. My favourites for Italian are La Buca and Cioppino's, which have rather different vibes.
For brunch/lunch, I haven't tried it yet but if dinner is any indication, Latitude could be a good choice. Or for something completely different, you could head out to Bo Laksa King's Bubbles and Bits for pan-Asian (particularly Burmese salads). There is also Thai Hang for beef 7 ways (after 3 pm) and Seri Malaysia on that strip for dinner (don't do lunch at Seri). Other lunch ideas: The Galley at Jericho for a black and blue burger. Better than average "pubby" food with a west coast healthy frisson in a stunning setting, view wise. Weather should still be okay when you come but don't go unless it's a nice day. Back up the scale a bit, Cafe Medina for brunch/lunch is swell. They do switch from the brunch to the lunch menu rather abruptly so be aware of that, and the lines can be long. Try to get seated in the back room if you can. Order something that comes in a wee cast iron frying pan (shortribs, drool) and have one of their flavoured coffees -- I like the lavender. Finch's is another downtown lunch option. The service can be a bit west coast interpretational and the menu is short and sweet. Try the 'blue' brie with pears and walnuts on a baguette.
You haven't mentioned Japanese, which we seem to do pretty well here, especially izakaya. Any interest in that cuisine?
La Buca Restaurant
4025 MacDonald St, Vancouver, BC V6L2N8, CA
Seri Malaysia Restaurant
2327E Hastings St E, Vancouver, BC V5L1V6, CA
Thai Hang Restaurant
1 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A3Y5, CA
Check out Phnomh Penh in Chinatown- it is fabulous and had been a favorite of both James Barber and Julia Child, you can read the reviews on the walls. This is a small family run place, but it's always packed- the food is excellent, and it is inexpensive. The Butter Beef is their best dish, but you really can't go wrong there- everything's good.
Phnom Penh Restaurant Ltd
244 Georgia Street East, Vancouver, BC V6A1Z7 (604) 682-5777
Lunch in Vancouver, because I'm chinese, Dim Sum would be the best. I would go to Sun Sui Wah. For the past 10-15 years, they're still the best, even for dinner. If you like Malay food, the Banana Leaf is pretty good. I believe it's on Denman. For fresh salmon, you might want to try Steveston in Richmond. They have boats going in and out there with fresh seafood. They come in around noon.
For Victoria, there's a lot of places to check out between Harold and Johnson st. near the the harbour. I wouldn't recommend going for Asian food though. It doesn't compare to Vancouver. Go for something more retro and hole in the wall places there.
I haven't been to Northern BC, so I can't comment on their food up there.
1096 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2M8, CA