Late June Honeymoon in Victoria/Vancouver/Seattle - A little help please.
I will be honeymooning in Victoria/Vancouver/Seattle the last week in June. Three nights in Victoria, three nights in Vancouver and the final night in Seattle (Flying into and out of Seattle.) We both love seafood and are hoping to make that the main theme of our trip food wise. We are coming from Texas and have good access to high quality beef regularly so are not really looking for steakhouses and we are not drinkers so no need to use wine availability in any recommendations. We will have a car and don’t mind travelling for a great meal. Hoping you can lend your expertise to our plans.
While in Victoria, we will be staying at a B&B so will mainly be interested in three dinners (We are planning on an afternoon snack at Red Fish, Blue Fish.) We already have reservation for one night at Sooke Harbor House. For the other two nights we are looking at Amuse Bistro and Bakery, Harbor House, Camilles, Lure, Blue Crab and Pescatores Seafood and Grill.
While in Vancouver, we will be staying at the Four Seasons. We are thinking one night Italian (Provence Marina-side, La Buca, Lupo, Il Giardino, Cioppinos Mediterranean Grill, Il Terrazo or Via Veneto), one night French (Les Faux Bourgeois, Chambar or Le Crocodile) and one night Chinese (Kirin, The Jade, Sun Sui Wah or Shanghai Chinese Bistro and we would love to combine this dinner with a trip to the night market.) We are hoping to do Bard on the Beach one night so would like to combine with dinner. While we hope to eat local seafood throughout our trip I have also heard good things about these specifically seafood restaurants in Vancouver (West, Rodneys Oyster House, Five Sails, Fish House Stanley park, Joe Fortes, Salmon House on the hill.)
I don’t really have too much idea about breakfasts while in Vancouver (We would love to get fresh Croissants or pastries with good coffee) or lunch (not burgers or pizza) so would appreciate some help with these recommendations. I have read that when we go to Granville Island we should have lunch at The Lobsterman.)
Finally, our final night in Seattle we have reservations at The Georgian at The Fairmont Hotel and plan to spend the little time we have shopping and noshing at Pikes Market.
Thanks for any ideas.
For Victoria, please skip Pescatore's; it's not very good. In fact, none of the "seafood" themed restaurants in Victoria are good.
Instead, try a good restaurant that does seafood well. i.e. Brasserie L'Ecole, Camille's, Cafe Brio, Stage. The Blue Crab isn't bad, and the view is great, but it is overpriced.
Seafood that will be in season during your trip here: spot prawns, halibut, salmon, scallops (from Qualicum Bay). You should also try some local oysters while you're here.
Vancouver's best restaurant IMO are not in the "Fine Dining" category since this city (like Seattle) is pretty casual all around. Your list seems a bit dated now (e.g. Shanghai Chinese Bistro is closed, AFAIK). I'll try to narrow you list down to my own choice out of your list (or recommend something else)
Italian - La Buca or Cioppino's (pricey).
French - Les Faux Bourgeois (casual indie) or Le Croc (more trad)
Chinese - The Jade Seafood (Richmond)
Seafood - I have had good seafood at L'Abattoir - though it isn't decidedly a seafood joint. If you like oysters, check out Oyster Raw Bar's 50 cent shucks I think 3 - 4pm, then buck-a-shuck from 4-7pm (follow them on twitter for details)
Coffee - perhaps Revolver.
Brunch - I'll leave topic to someone else.
I'll just quickly throw in a brekkie croissant suggestion, since you mentioned Granville Island, and that is La Baguette l'Echalote:
Sure, Granv. Isld is a tourist destination, but for good reasons too. There's not much like the Vancouver experience than sitting there on a bench between the water and the public market, having something tasty on one hand and your SO beside ya, people- and city-watching, on an early summer morning, while looking out for big fat seagulls ready to pounce on your tasty snacks.
Another croissant option is in the SW neighbourhood of Kerrisdale (epicenter = W. 41 Avenue & Yew Street). There you will find Faubourg Paris, a swell place to get anything French and baked:
They open at 7am so early birds get the fresh hot croissants.
I should note you seemed to have done a great job of research so far ! But you may have been mis-informed that The LobsterMan is a restaurant (it's not, but a great purveyor of fresh seafood: http://lobsterman.com/about-us). And as such, perhaps if you're already planning the morning at Granville Island, a lunch option would be the Edible Canada Store & Bistro:
A stone's throw from the public market.
Another lunch option is a very casual (theme of Vancouver) joint called The Galley Patio & Grill in the western edge of the city, at the Jericho Sailing Club:
Not a foodie destination as such, but on a nice warm day, the view from the patio is priceless. And it's steps from the beach too.
the Fairmont Olympic is one of our favourite hotels -
at Pike Place, check out the mac and cheese at http://www.beechershandmadecheese.com/ - it is NOT in the old market building, it is across the st near the very first starbucks
you will find many of the fish vendors have "take away" crab / shrimp meat ready-to-eat with the sauce and everything. I don't know that i would do that (eat and walk in a crowded unevenly floored market - but it's popular.
in Vancouver downtown, for a snack and a GREAT view - go to Anatolia Express for the Hummous and peda bread - you can choose from either white or brown flour for your peda
there are a couple of recent threads about places to eat on the drive between Vanc BC and SEA
For Victoria, Sooke Harbour House and Amuse are both amazing. For old school ambiance, you might also want to consider Deep Cover Chalet (really close to the ferry terminal). In Victoria proper, Brasserie L'Ecole is excellent.
For your Italian, Cioppino's is fantastic if you have the budget. For a little less money, if you can get a reso at La Quercia in Point Grey (west-most neighbourhood in the city). Downtown, my favourite would be Lupo.
For Chinese, you can't go too wrong with your choices, though the night market is really a lot about eating, so I'm not sure how much more eating you'll be able to do if it's just the two of you. Have you considered just going for dim sum during the day? Richmond is packed with excellent dim sum options.
For seafood, I'm surprised you didn't list Blue Water Cafe, which is usually in the city's top 3. Though it's not cheap, they do everything pretty darn well. If you were just going to do one seafood stop, that would be an excellent choice. Or, if you're at all interested in Japanese, I would highly recommend Miku.
For croissants, I may be in the minority on this, but La Baguette does not make good croissants. Try Thierry on Alberni or Bel Cafe in the Rosewood hotel downtown, or Thomas Haas in Kits. Even Quince on 3rd near Granville Island makes a better croissant. For brunch, super popular spots include Cafe Medina and the Twisted Fork. Be prepared to wait. I like the patio on top of Joe Fortes on a nice summer day for brunch. Also, if you're in Granville Island, Go Fish (Red Fish, Blue Fish is an offshoot of Go Fish) is just a two minute walk away and a tacone is always good for a snack.
Overall, sounds like a great eating vacation. Enjoy!
For italian I would pick both Lupo and La Quercia over Cioppino's (although La Quercia is a bit out of the way - but if you have a car and you're not drinkers this might not be an issue). Cioppino's is good but overpriced (my guess is over half the customers have expense accounts).
If you're OK with an expensive place, I'd pick Blue Water. I think it's the best restaurant in town.
One option to consider is Fraiche. It's in West Vancouver but again if you have a car and you're not drinking this shouldn't be a problem. It's a great restaurant and has amazing views of the city.
If you want to avoid line-ups for Brunch you should consider Provence Marinaside. They take reservations and the brunch is quite good (and seafood orientated).
Glowbal also does a nice brunch and it's big enough that you're almost certain not to have to wait in line.
Regarding Granville Island - it's much more enjoyable during the week - on the weekends it can be uncomfortably crowded.
For Victoria - if you're looking for a lunch spot, consider the Bengal Lounge at the Empress. The food is good and it's a fun room. I would also suggest avoid High Tea at the Empress - it's a pretty massive rip-off.
Chinese - While there are a few decent options downtown (Victoria Restaurant being one of them, by Royal Centre beside the Burrard Skytrain station), you're better off hopping on the Canada Line to go to Richmond. The night market is located in a lot a 5 minute walk from the Bridgeport station, and as other people have said there are a TON of options at the market. Was there last night and parking was incredibly hard to find, so you're better off using transit to get to the night market.
I will be on the minority with this one, but The Jade in Richmond isn't as good as it used to be...and rather pricey too, considering the quality of dimsum you'll be getting. If you're willing to pony up a bit of cash, then Kirin is an excellent dimsum or dinner option (there's one by Alberni st. Downtown, and they also have a Richmond location that's fairly close to the Brighouse Canada Line station). You could also head to Aberdeen Mall where they have Fisherman's Terrace (same vein as Kirin).
Brunch - Provence by the Marina is a nice place for brunch (delicious eggs benedict!). Said restaurant is also good for an Italian-themed lunch, their fixed price menu is also a bargain and you get to try out some stuff from their antipasto bar.
Seafood - I guess this doesn't really count but Carderos has a Mussel Mania deal going on right now and should last well into June. $10 for a sizable portion of Moule et Frites (and a pint of beer, but even if you don't get the beer $10 is still a bargain). Since you mentioned you have a car, then the Steveston area in Richmond is a great place to get seafood (near a wharf, so freshness pretty much guaranteed!). It's also a nice place to just enjoy the sun and walk along the docks, maybe grab a frozen yogurt from Timothy's and enjoy the small shops that line the streets.
Provence Marinaside is not particularly Italian, nor have my last two brunch experiences there been good ones. The setting is quite nice on the water but only if you sit outside. They also serve really sad frites which I think is a crime for a bistro.
My favourite Italian in town continues to be La Buca and since you have a car and don't drink the location will be fine (free parking is a plus). Chambar is more Belgian than French and can have great dishes but be warned it is not remotely romantic and in fact very sceney and loud.
Agree if you do a Chinese dinner you will not have room for the Night Market. I'd pick one or the other.
You might consider booking at Octopus' Garden before or after Bard on the Beach to get an omakase in, one of the best ways to eat seafood in Vancouver IMO. Good seafood here is weirdly difficult to find without paying the earth and even then it is often mediocre. The chef at Fish House just changed so that may impact the food -- used to be safe but pricey to order simply prepared fish there. Salmon House suffers from the great view if it is clear but meh food syndrome. I wonder if C might work better for you.
I believe you can buy a lobster at Lobsterman and have them cook it for you to go but as mentioned it is not a restaurant. Other lunch ideas could be Meat and Bread (the original in Gastown or the new one on Pender, expect lines at peak hours) or Red Wagon (weekdays, go for lunch instead of brunch to avoid lines, get the pork belly).
- if going to Richmond Night Market, eat dinner early, and arrive at night market after 9pm when it gets into full swing. Be prepared to walk a ways if you're driving (BTW, there are now TWO night markets in Richmond, new one is a stone's throw to the Bridgeport Station of the Canada Line skytrain, and the other one on the eastern end of Bridgeport Road @ # 6 Road, behind the Home Depot, the second one requires driving to/from):
- a dang good Chinese dinner (which can include fab & fresh seafood at v. reasonable prices) can be had at Red Star on Granville St around W.66 Ave) on your way to the night market, Their Chinese BBQ duck is award-winning, and parking in that 'hood is way more sane than parking anywhere in Richmond, IMHO.
- since you're from Texas and used to good meats & BBQs, I'd skip The Red Wagon. Meat & Bread on the other hand is well worth going to, and get their porchetta sammy:
Since greyelf mentioned Red Wagon, Jethro's is also another place worth checking out for lunch...but it's probably worth noting that both were featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (for other places to check out).
If you don't mind food carts, there are a few seafood-themed ones in the downtown core. The Kaboom Box and Fresh Local Wild come to mind.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Yew at the Four Seasons for seafood -
Better value for money than Blue Water Cafe and the chef there is particularly vocal about using sustainably caught fish, etc.
Best pastry shop in Vancouver city is Cadeaux Bakery in Gastown
For Italian, excellent value for money is Cibo in Yaletown - considering the ingredients the chef trucks in, the fresh pasta and the outstanding dishes, the prices are incredibly reasonable particularly if you won't be ordering wine. Much better than Cioppino's and not as hard to get into as La Quercia (which I would also second as a rec).
Thank you all for these detailed responses.
In no particular order: I am not sure how I missed Blue Water but having looked it up, I think this may be a winner for us one night in Vancouver; La Buca, Lupo or Cioppino’s seem a safe bet for a second night as having grown up in New York I am partial to Italian food. Any idea which one I’d like better being from New York?; Question regarding the Chinese restaurants vs the Night Market. Having grown up eating in Manhattan’s Chinatown and in Long Island, what is likely to be similar? In Dallas, I miss eggrolls, wonton soup and peking duck from my youth. Understanding that this may not truly be Chinese as much as New York Chinese food; I had heard the Bengal lounge for the Indian Buffet in Victoria was nice but as we are staying at a B&B in Victoria, not sure that we would do more than snack other than dinners; I don’t think my Fiance is quite adventurous enough for some of the more exotic places that have been mentioned and I am hesitant to bring her to Japanese as her experience is limited; I had looked at Amuse and I think that is a strong option for one of our nights in Victoria; We will definitely hit Granville Island and some of the more touristy spots. Truth be told we will probably do more shopping than majorly strenuous activities; We were already planning on a trip to Steveston so will probably do a lunch there. Appreciate all of the comments so far.
I haven't been yet so this isn't a personal recommendation but I've read a lot of good things about Fraiche in West Van -- it could break the "view" restaurant curse :-). Maybe take a look at the menu anyway as it seems it might fit some of your criteria for a nice dinner.
I didn't realize you were coming from Texas but I still stand by the Red Wagon pork belly rec. The marinade they use has star anise and other Asian spicing that I think makes it memorable.
And allow me to add my congratulations on your upcoming nuptials which I forgot to do when I replied earlier!
A few more cents on Victoria. Lure is really nice for seafood - and a beautiful setting in the Ocean Pointe Hotel. All the meals I've had there - the seafood has been prepared perfectly (and you'll get a selection of different types). RFBF - excellent choice. If you're near fisherman's whart, there's The Fish Store (beside Barb's on the wharf). Tacos, traditional F&C, steamed shellfish, fishwiches, on salads. They also do a nice lightly curried fish soup. Fresh shucked oysters ($1 after 3pm!) and a bunch of other stuff. Been there twice and loved everything I had (including the fact you're buying from a fish store run by fishmen). They also do a bunch of gluten-free options. And for $5 of fun - 6 small fish to feed the harbour seals beside the dock. Also at FW - great mexican @ Puerto Vallarta Amigos Mexican (in a float home across the FishStore).
I'm not from Victoria, but my girlfriend and I visited last fall and had such a wonderful time at all the restaurants we went to. So, just to add a few more to the list for your consideration:
Stage: They call themselves "small plate" (so, tapas, I guess) kind of restaurant. Everything we tried was great--especially the trout. My girlfriend, a vegetarian, loved the veggies dishes. Surprisingly, I (the furthest thing from a vegetarian) did too.
Paprika Bistro: I know you mentioned you're not really looking for beef dishes, and that is Paprika's forte I gather, but this is a solid restaurant all around. It's a little out of the way in Oak Bay, 15 minutes drive from the B and B where we stayed (Abbeymoore's). I tried the Tartare, the onglet Steak, and since I was really hungry that night, the pasta (I think they change their pastas quite often). Everything was delicious.
Ulla: We really, really, wanted to try Ulla, but alas they were on vacation when we were in town. Nonetheless, from what we've researched about the restaurant, it seems like everybody (including a few newspaper/magazine critics) loved it.
Devour: It's a good place to grab something light(er) around the afternoon if you ever get hungry. There are a few tables, but it seems that they're catered more towards takeout. They change their menus daily, but there's usually something in every category. In fact, we liked it so much that we went there again the day we left town to grab some food for the plane ride home.
You're most welcome!
We had a wonderful time at Abbeymoore. Granted, it was only our second stay at a B and B so we're far from experts, but from what we gathered from other guests the consensus was that it's definitely a great place to stay. The rooms and common areas were gorgeous and very well kept. The innkeepers were genuinely warm and friendly, and also a great source of local knowledge. At the same time it's not a place that forces you to socialize, so you can be as chatty or quiet with other guests and the hosts as you prefer.
The breakfasts were also excellent. I'm sure you've probably read up on this already, but just in case-- they consist of fresh juice, coffee/tea, fruit with yogurt and granola, a baked item (those were always our favorites) and a hot dish. Everything tasted great, and the portions were generous. But we didn't skip lunch as we thought we might in some days, just because we usually finished breakfast at around 8:45 and we had a very walk-heavy itinerary.
Enjoy your honeymoon!
if youre going to vancouver island, im surprised no one here mentioned wickannish inn, which is recently on par with sooke harbor house.
i really believe on any given night, cioppinos is the best restaurant in vancouver... on any given night, its not. call and let them know how special the occasion is.
hawksworth is also very impressive, though its more modern interior and urban atmosphere might not be exactly 'romantic'
Andrew, When we originally were looking at Victoria, I saw the Wick Inn and the Tofino area and thought it looked beautiful but when we decided to stay in Victoria I got the idea that this was too far to drive for just an afternoon or a meal whereas Sooke was about an hour. Was I mistaken about the distances here?
A nice choice for dinner near Pike Place Market is Matt's in the Market (http://www.mattsinthemarket.com/). It's casual and relaxed, but also a bit romantic and has an awesome view of the market. If you'd like to try something slightly further afield (about a mile from the market) and you aren't sick of Asian food, try Tamarind Tree (Vietnamese http://www.tamarindtreerestaurant.com/) or Maneki (izakaya ) in the International District.
Okay, we just got back and wanted to give you a report. Our trip was amazing, such a beautiful place to visit and the food was superb. All of the flowers were in bloom and while is was mostly overcast, we did not have any significant rain and the temperature was pleasantly cool.
In Victoria we had our breakfasts at our B&B, Abbeymoore Manor and we highly suggest this to anyone looking. The room was huge, innkeepers were knowledgable and very nice and the breakfasts were perfectly portioned and diverse.
We ate dinner at Hidden Cove Chalet which was a beautiful location. Not easy to find (even with directions) but worth it, food was wonderful, place is beautiful and make sure to give Ernie, the lab sleeping by the door a nice pet. The second night we drove out to Sooke Harbor House. This was just plain amazing. All they say about this place is true. One of the nicest, most delicious meals we have ever eaten. Service was beyond perfect. Overall the best experience of our trip and we tried raw oysters for the first time. We also did a lunch at Red Fish, Blue Fish. Tried the combo fish & chips; one cod, one halibut and one salmon, all perfectly fried, not at all fishy and delicious. Well worth the 20 or so minute wait. We had desert one night at Café Brio which was excellent and we would go back for dinner if we were ever in town again.
In Vancouver we had dinner at Kirin in Richmond (very good, we enjoyed the Peking Duck but could see that many tables were enjoying more exotic seafood and special soups. We also ate dinner at Blue water café. We had sushi and for beginners this was an amazing experience. Everything was so fresh and delicious. Nothing too exotic on the menu but the restaurant is beautiful and the fish was perfect. We are now going to look to have sushi at home in Dallas but understand we may not get such quality. Finally we had dinner at the Boathouse in Kitsilano. Nothing spectacular but location was nice and food was adeqaute. We had tickets to Bard on the Beach right afterwards so location was perfect as we walked the way over.
We had breakfast twice in the Granville market which was a wonderful experience, wish we had something like that here in Dallas. We are now hooked on Maple Crepes!!!
By the time we got to Seattle we were all fished out and ended up having a couple of cheeseburgers at the Capital Grill across the street from our hotel. Pricey but awesome if you like a good burger.
All in all it was a wonderful experience and one we will never forget. The food was unbelievable and we definitely gained a few pounds. Thank you all for your help and suggestions and we hope to get back to this beautiful area in the future. There were so many places we would stil like to eat at that we just did not find the time. Perhaps for an Anniversary.
So glad you had a great trip both sightseeing and dining wise. Planning a honeymoon is even more fraught than other trips :-). Will have to check out Maple Crepes the next time I'm on GIsle looking for a nosh -- this morning was only to pick up my 11-lb white spring for bbq today!