There’s a time for a burger and fries, and then there are occasions that call for a gourmet chuck patty served atop pomme frites. When it’s time for a haute experience that includes white tablecloths, expansive wine lists and top-shelf cocktails, Vancouver has numerous spots worth the splurge. Here are five of our favourites.
Seafood is everywhere in Vancouver. Chef Frank Pabst, chef of the year in Vancouver Magazine’s 2010 Restaurant Awards, just knows how to dish it up better than most. The seafood on Blue Water Café + Raw Bar’s menu is caught sustainably and prepared in classic West Coast style. The raw bar, operated by sushi master Yoshi Tabo, gives the menu a touch of Asian influence. Plus, this high-end Yaletown restaurant has a wine list equally as stunning as its food. It’s garnered Wine Spectator’s Best of Awards of Excellence notation every year since 2002.1095 Hamilton St., Vancouver
The chef’s tasting menu is the way to go at this posh West Coast eatery that overlooks Coal Harbour. The menu changes seasonally and includes everything from caviar and scallops to duck and deer. A five-course exercise in decadence (plus an amuse-bouche) is the way to go; add in dessert (often paired with a British Columbia ice wine), and you’re living like a true gourmand. One lavish multicourse dinner runs $158 a person with a full wine pairing and an enhancement, such as a pan seared Quebec foie gras and caramelized quince. Finish the night off with a stay in the Pan Pacific, and order room service for breakfast.999 Canada Place, Vancouver
Whistler is loaded with high-end restaurants, and Araxi is one of its most famous. This eatery’s head chef position was once held by Dave Levey, winner of 2009’s “Hell’s Kitchen” on Fox. Levey has since left, but executive chef James Walt continues to offer a menu that deserves the hype it gets year in and year out. Main plates are gourmet versions of classic surf-and-turf options (think Dungeness crab and lobster fresh from the tank, as well as rib eyes, elk and lamb). Many ingredients are sourced locally, and the wine list is loaded with British Columbia favourites.4222 Village Square, Whistler
There are few dining experiences that surpass sitting on the Beach House’s heated patio while overlooking Burrard Inlet and Stanley Park while enjoying the seasonally charged creations of acclaimed chef James Hodgins. Housed in a 1912 building that once served as a teahouse, the Beach House features a menu filled with interesting nibbles (goat-cheese crab dip or lamb pops) and classic West Coast-style entrées (braised short ribs and wild sockeye salmon). The wine list is award winning, and the food has been acclaimed by a wide range of critics, from Zagat to Vancouver Magazine and Wine Enthusiast.150 25th St., West Vancouver
Located in the posh Vancouver at the Loden hotel, Voya Resaurant is an intimate, 80-seat chic eatery that serves a sophisticated, ever-changing menu. Chef Marc-Andre focuses on local ingredients and a wide range of global interpretations. Entrées include standouts like prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast or one of the best burgers in Vancouver, a chuck and short-rib patty topped with bacon and cheddar. The menu also includes a wide range of shared plates, which serve as a decadent start to dinner, or sumptuous flavours to share over an evening cocktail.1177 Melville St., Vancouver