Karen Hamilton knows what she's talking about when it comes to food. As founder of the blog tinybites.ca, she explores all things culinary in Vancouver -- sharing her discoveries in her own beautiful photographs and words. Lucky for you, she's told us her absolute favourite dishes at restaurants all over town. Read on to learn about this fastidious foodie's top picks.
Vancouver spoils the food lover in me. Its access to the flavours of the Pacific Rim, combined with local bounty from sea, field and vine, gives our restaurants the ability to excel in seafood, wine, Asian cuisine and the freshness that each new season brings.
If ever the day should come that I must leave this hometown of mine, I would certainly spend weeks saying goodbye to my favourite food and drink in the region. And if I only had one night to pack in all in, this is how my ideal last supper in Vancouver would unfold:
First stop would be to Yaletown's noteworthy wine bar for a quick nip before dinner. UVA makes a mean Negroni for those who are fans of classic mixology (all the rage here at the moment). Me? I'd prefer to ask General Manager and sommelier Sebastien Le Goff to suggest a glass of Old World red. Even if I knew which wine to order, it's still a treat to hear his colourful tasting notes!
A five-minute walk from UVA would find me at the raw bar of Blue Water Cafe, where raw bar chef Yoshihiro Tabo presides. He'd present the freshest seafood offerings of the season. Depending on what's available, I'd try local morsels of mackerel, spot prawn or geoduck. For the less adventurous, you can't go wrong with the B.C. albacore tuna tartare.
Poultry Course at Red Star Seafood Restaurant
You may not think of Vancouver as a hot spot for Chinese cuisine, but you should. Greater Vancouver offers some of the finest Asian foods that I've ever tasted, and even in my travels to China, I've heard nationals gush about the dim sum that can be had here. So if you wish to test my claim, check out Red Star on the southernmost end of Granville Street. It's my go-to place for Peking Duck, and would certainly make it in my itinerary for this last Vancouver meal. Missing out on this dish is almost criminal.
I'm a sucker for pork belly, especially when I can support a local producer through my dinner order. In this case, I'd trust chef Warren Geraghty of West to turn out a spectacular pork belly from his supply from Vancouver Island's own Sloping Hill Farm. I'd keep a particular eye out for his surf n' turf concept: seared scallops and pork belly with pear-ginger purée.
Prime rib is another weakness of mine, and I know just the place for it. As one of Canada's most reputable steak houses, it's no surprise that Hy's serves only aged AAA Alberta beef. Bonus points for presenting it all in Victorian opulence; it almost makes me feel like I'm dining inside Hogwart's Castle.
Tucked away in Gastown's historic Blood Alley is my favourite destination for cheese and charcuterie. My dish of choice is the Best of BC plate: a daily selection of meats, cheeses and accoutrements sourced from some of the best producers in the province.
Dessert Course at Ganache Patisserie
My heart belongs to only one place for the best cake in town: Yaletown's Ganache Patisserie. If I could scarf down the previous courses in time to get to their café before it closed, I'd enjoy their unparalleled Chocolat Velouté. But if they had already closed, I'd venture to DB Bistro Moderne for their Lime Floating Island or to Fleuri Restaurant's decadent Chocoholic Buffet.
Digestifs at Boneta
With my appetite sated with the finest that Vancouver has to offer, I'd head back to Gastown to spend the wee hours sipping around the neighbourhood's best bars: whisky and spirits at Shebeen, beer at the Irish Heather, and my favourite place for cocktails, Boneta. If I could secure the corner stool at Boneta's hopping lounge, I would easily while away the hours watching the influx of beautiful people and restaurant folk as they mingle around me. I'd then hop into a cab after a long and fruitful evening, full of good food and enough memories of Vancouver to last me till my next visit.
By Karen Hamilton, tinybites.ca