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Dinner with friends in Vancouver

b
Bytowner Sep 13, 2013 08:05 AM

Hi folks,
I'll be heading out next weekend (staying by Coal Harbour) and plan on having a nice'ish dinner with friends (6 of us) on Sunday night. Something casual but with great food. We're not stingy, but they prefer to get what they pay for over anything too precious. So family style and generous sharing plates are a plus.

My list right now included:
Wildebeest
Espana
Chambar
TUC
Oakwood

Location isn't a huge issue, though downtown is best. Things might get a bit boozey and loud (though not obnoxious).

Wildebeest was up there, but I'm reading a lot of conflicting/extreme reviews.Open to other suggestions as well. Good beer menu for brownie points!

  1. b
    Bobtennant Sep 27, 2013 09:27 PM

    We tried Oakwood tonight and we're really impressed. Mussels were exceptional as was the Cornish game hen. It was also wonderful to eat at a place where the entire staff knew the menu and even the busboy had some good recommendations. It certainly earned a return visit the next time we are in town.

    1. Quattrociocchi Sep 14, 2013 07:51 AM

      My new current favorite is Tuc. Three of us ate there last weekend and our bill came to $110, including 5 drinks. Their small plates are great for sharing, which is exactly what we did. We hoped to try one of the mains, but after all the appies we just couldn't squeeze one in. And when was the last place you got 6 hot fresh donuts with a caramel sauce for $4? Price-wise, this can't be beat. Nice casual atmosphere and excellent service as well.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Quattrociocchi
        b
        Bytowner Sep 14, 2013 09:12 AM

        I think that's what we're going with Quatt (despite all the other great suggestions). Combination of perceived value and nearly universal positive reviews. Thanks!

        1. re: Bytowner
          Quattrociocchi Sep 14, 2013 01:47 PM

          If I may, some not-to-be-missed items:
          Pork belly crackling
          Tempura egg (loved it so much I ordered an extra one)
          Fish stew - I'd go back just for that - sublime
          Orange glazed lamb ribs
          Popcorn ice cream - ask how they make it
          Donuts

          1. re: Quattrociocchi
            grayelf Sep 14, 2013 09:34 PM

            Thanks for the deets, Quattro. We're going on Tuesday, thanks to your recco.

        2. re: Quattrociocchi
          grayelf Sep 17, 2013 07:53 AM

          Hitting Tuc tonight -- how many apps did you get to fill up three diners, Q?

          1. re: grayelf
            Quattrociocchi Sep 17, 2013 08:23 AM

            We had 8 appies - including 2 order of the lamb ribs - I think you get 3 or 4 per order. We also had 2 desserts. We were stuffed. Hope your experience was as good as mine.

            1. re: Quattrociocchi
              grayelf Sep 17, 2013 09:37 PM

              Will post more fully soon but in the meantime, very very good and outstanding value (we paid for four what we would pay for two at L'abbatoir or similar). We'll be back. Thanks for the tips, Q

              1. re: grayelf
                Quattrociocchi Sep 19, 2013 08:13 PM

                uh oh - Urbanspoon named Tuc one of the hottest new restaurants in Canada. Well there goes our little secret...

                1. re: Quattrociocchi
                  b
                  Bytowner Sep 20, 2013 02:54 AM

                  Ha! Glad I have my reservation! Hopefully they don't hike prices over the next couple of days!

                  1. re: Bytowner
                    grayelf Sep 20, 2013 11:47 AM

                    The server I spoke to said the owners are really keen to control the prices, essentially it's part of their business plan. The idea is to turn over the seats and do enough volume to keep everyone happy. They've only been open four months so I guess time will tell but so far so good.

        3. LotusRapper Sep 13, 2013 03:05 PM

          Thanks Florentine for mentioning Commercial Drive, 'cuz BierCraft is another great option for the OP:

          http://biercraft.com/commercial/

          We only go to the one on Cambie nowadays since we're mere blocks away. I expect the Commercial Dr. location to have equally good food as Cambie.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LotusRapper
            f
            Florentine Sep 13, 2013 03:10 PM

            Ahh yes, BierCraft. I was there a few nights ago before attending a Vancouver Fringe Fest event. For Belgian beer, there is no better place in Vancouver. However, I find the food hit & miss. I had their fish tacos, which were alright, but nothing noteworthy. I mean, if you're seeking fish tacos, La Mezcaleria (also on Commercial Drive) is where I'd go. Boyfriend had the sambal tofu, which he loves. Friends had the sambal green beans, which were okay.

            The Tangent Cafe, also on Commercial Drive, is another one of my regulars for craft beer. Their Indonesian cuisine is surprisingly delicious. I like going there for their live jazz on Sunday afternoons.

          2. LotusRapper Sep 13, 2013 09:46 AM

            "Good beer menu for brownie points!"

            Chambar fits that bill. And so does The Alibi Room, but I wouldn't put their food in the same class as your options above by a wide margin. Alibi's food is more "pubbie" but priced accordingly.

            http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/180041/restaurant/Gastown/Alibi-Room-Vancouver

            FWIW, Yaletown Brewing Co. (YBC) is a pioneer in the post-Expo '86 brewpub scene and has survived 20 years or so. I haven't been since the late '90s, and a scan of their menu suggests their food remains moderne pub (but not quite gastropub). But YBC definitely permits a "boozey and loud (though not obnoxious)" gathering:

            http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/181990/restaurant/Yaletown/Yaletown-Brewing-Vancouver

            Another option is Steamworks, but I don't have a clear recent assessment of where they fit in these days, 'tho I suspect many would prefer YBC over Steamworks:

            http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/181708...

            3 Replies
            1. re: LotusRapper
              b
              Bytowner Sep 13, 2013 11:12 AM

              Thanks for the suggestions LR. Beer is important to me, not so much to everyone else. A couple local offerings on tap (especially Driftwood) is great, but not a deal breaker. I've done most of the brewpubs in town.

              I will be hitting up Alibi, but probably on my own for some serious geeking out!

              1. re: Bytowner
                i
                islandgirl Sep 13, 2013 01:33 PM

                The Chambar beer selection is excellent for Belgian and import beers. I love the food at Chambar although the value proposition is not as great as it once was.

                1. re: Bytowner
                  f
                  Florentine Sep 13, 2013 02:35 PM

                  As a Commercial Drive dweller and craft beer geek, I've really been enjoying St Augustine's (owned by Parallel 49 Brewing) for sampling craft beer. It beats out Steamworks and YBC any day, IMHO. The latter two aren't good value and have a real touristy vibe.

                  Even though Alibi Room is the elite of craft beer pubs in Vancouver, I find that St Augustine's is better value if you're strictly going for the beer. 4 beer sampler paddles are several dollars less (I think $9.50 after tax). The live beer menu is also a fun touch, and their beer menu (60+ taps) changes daily: http://staugustinesvancouver.com/. Food is surprisingly good for a pub that looks like a bad sports bar. The fried chicken = delicious, and the roast cauliflower/brussel sprouts are both tasty. I've also been happy with their flat breads. But I do stress, this is all about the sampling of west coast craft beer - it is not a food first destination, if you catch my drift.

                  Alibi Room is great too, don't get me wrong, but pricier, weirder hours, and harder to get a table.

                  In your circumstance, I'd put Chambar at the top of your list, but make reservations. Then come back to St Augustine's when you want to geek out. ;)

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