• Cocktails
  • Dec16

    Boulevard Vancouver-1

    Boulevard Restaurant’s Executive Chef Alex Chen has just released a new brunch menu to greet the year’s end.

    Boulevard Vancouver-6

    The dishes he’s selected to showcase are spins on traditional favourites. Alongside Nutella-stuffed French toast and Eggs Benedict, chef Chen’s created a Korean rice bowl, an Oyama truffle duck sausage piazza, and Boulevard’s wild salmon chowder, complemented by Bar Manager Justin Taylor’s Hemingway Daiquiri, and signature Bellinis and Caesars.

    Boulevard Vancouver-2 Boulevard Vancouver-3

    After admiring a few beautiful Goh Ballet Nutcracker gowns in adjacent Sutton Place Hotel’s lobby, we entered Boulevard’s modern dining room that features sleek, white and bronze lighting fixtures suspended from classic rounded moulding on the ceiling and mounted as wall sconces.

    Boulevard Vancouver-4

    The Bellini (circa 1940 Venice, Italy; $14) contains a lovely soft peach that lingers on the palate. It’s created using Beefeater gin, peach liqueur, white peach purée, Bittered Sling Clingstone peach bitters, sparkling wine, and a large violette-infused ice cube that remains at the bottom of the glass.

    Boulevard cocktails: Hemingway and Bellini Boulevard wild salmon chowder
    [L to R: Hemingway daiquiri, bellini, wild smoked salmon chowder]

    Hemingway daiquiri (circa 1935, Havana, Cuba; $13) is a delight, mixed with Havana Club 3 Year Old añejo rum, maraschino liqueur, fresh lime, fresh grapefruit, and cane sugar syrup. This drink is obviously heavy on the alcohol, but the lime and grapefruit cut into it to create a refreshing cocktail.

    Wild smoked salmon chowder with fennel pollen, dill, and Cherry Lane farm potato ($12) was creamy and delicate with chopped clams and salmon accompanying the potato, with a not-too-heavy consistency typical of many chowders. Make sure to enjoy some of the freshly-baked baguette that’s ideal for dipping.

    Boulevard red and white quinoa salad with seared Albacore tuna

    Chen’s red and white quinoa salad is tossed with toasted pistachios, cranberries, ricola salata, and kale in a herb vinaigrette ($16) and is delightful, especially with my choice of having added a 5 oz. portion of seared Albacore tuna ($10) on top. This makes a perfect meal-sized salad and was appreciated along with sips of the bellini’s peach notes. In addition to Albacore tuna, you can top the salad with hanger steak, roasted prawns, or seared scallops ($12, $12, and $15 respectively).

    My husband enjoyed a glass of Benzinger 2012 Chardonnay ($18.50 glass/$74 bottle), a complex chardonnay with light apple and peach tones, accompanied by only a hint of oakiness. There’s a good selection cocktails, wines, aperitifs, and non-alcoholic drinks on Boulevard’s menu as well.

    Boulevard Korean rice bowl

    The Korean rice bowl is a perfect blend of sweat and sour kimchi with warm sesame-flavoured sticky rice, perfectly cooked free-range egg, and silky textured, mildly-seasoned wagyu Galbi sausage with hot sauce hidden underneath. Something totally different, making for a tasty Korean/Japanese fusion izakaya experience.

    Pastry chef Jason Pitschke creates scrumptious desserts worthy of saving your appetite for. He makes each of his creations look effortless, and they arrive at the table ready to indulge in. We noticed that both desserts (there are three in total available during brunch, the third option being a red velvet cake) contain complex layers of flavour.

    Boulevard Calamansi tart

    The Calamansi tart ($12.50) has dollops of pineapple meringue, custard, and “breton” style shortcrust, however that thin v-strip of lemon provides a bright, tangy burst on the palate, and underneath that square, a thin layer of caramel, the perfect finish to a shortbread — and a most wonderful surprise to discover after this lemon-forward treat.

    Boulevard Opera bar

    My husband ordered the opera bar, likely dedicated to both opera and chocolate lovers. This dessert has mocha and chocolate written all over it, created using Michel Cluizel Mangaro milk chocolate with 50% cacao from Madagascar, containing notes of exotic fruits, honey, and caramel. Add to that an espresso buttercream in the middle, finished with Gianduja (an Italian sweet chocolate spread invented in Turin) sorbet and dollops and trimmings of more chocolate. This enjoyable ending to his meal was heightened with a good, strong double espresso.

    Boulevard Vancouver-10 Boulevard Vancouver-9

    The ceilings are eye-catching with white moulding containing interlocking illuminated rings designed by Vancouver artist Ian Marsh. The twisty DNA-like room divider allows the space to flow while creating a division between the two main rooms.

    Boulevard Vancouver-5

    The bar holds court off to one side, with an adjacent (past the wine glass stock) marble counter-topped oyster bar, backed by a wall of box wooden shelves stocked with fresh breads of all shapes and sizes. Cream leather banquettes and black comfy chairs with wood tables are spread throughout the spacious restaurant. A couple of private rooms off to the back have been hosting parties and holiday gatherings on a regular basis, according to Boulevard’s manager.

    Lounge music streaming over the speakers was set to a low volume, allowing for conversation to be heard at a reasonable level.

    Boulevard Vancouver-11

    Ladies doing brunch at a table next to ours had just removed their fur coats to reveal pearls and weekend finery while a small group of friends at another nearby table were celebrating a birthday. This is a classy place to cap off the weekend or to celebrate a special occasion, with a well-tuned, attentive staff, enjoyed over cocktails and a fine meal.

    Boulevard offers brunch on weekends from 11 am to 3 pm. The restaurant is located at Sutton Place Hotel, 845 Burrard Street in Vancouver.

  • Dec9

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Tableau Bar and Bistro

    The Loden Hotel is situated where Downtown Vancouver greets Coal Harbour. This beautiful luxury class boutique hotel has recently been named Best Hotel in Western Canada by Condé Nast Traveller’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards, and with good reason.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    From a yoga-inspired Garden Terrace room complete with a sweet little terrace, yoga mats, and blocks, to a room with two large floor-to-ceiling window walls looking out onto the world, all 77 rooms and suites at the Loden are comfortable oases for travellers seeking both quality and style in a hotel.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The bathrooms are marble-tiled and sleek and stocked with Moulton Brown luxury bath amenities.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    You’ll also find gorgeous Dornbracht and Philippe Stark fixtures, waterfall soaker tubs, and rainfall showers here.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver
    [Dornbracht’s Deque waterfall bathtub faucet]

    We decided to live like a tourist in our own town during this holiday season, enjoying dinner at Tableau Bistro next door, and nourishing our winter skin with an infrared sauna session the next morning.

    Just a couple of streets away and you’re at Canada Place; walk in the opposite direction for Robson Street shopping just west of Burrard.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    We found the complimentary wifi to be pretty speedy and reliable. A full fitness studio as well as the Loden Spa with infrared sauna can be found on the second floor. A small business workstation room is also located on this floor.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The second floor is also known as the Serenity Floor, with garden terrace suites that feature a little buddha to keep you company while enjoying a cup of herbal tea. These rooms also come with yoga props and mats for a good stretch after a day of walking the city or arriving from a long journey.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The beds are super comfortable! Goose down duvets and feather pillows made us hesitant to leave the room the next day but luckily we reserved an infrared sauna session to get our morning going.

    The staff are very outgoing, friendly, and helpful with tips on what to see and do in town. For a city hotel, the Loden has the advantage of being located on Melville, one of the city’s less busy streets. We didn’t make use of the complimentary bikes nor the car service, both obviously great options for getting around.

    Rooms are of a decent size so that we weren’t constantly in one another’s way. The large work desk space incorporates one of the most comprehensive ‘tech bars’ I’ve ever seen, with audio jacks, USB ports, several outlets, and wired internet cable outlets.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The lobby is equally sleek and modern, with free Nespresso coffee and TWG speciality tea service in the morning. Take your drink to go or bring it up to your room with a complimentary morning paper delivered to the door.

    Bringing a pet? The Loden offers custom beds and dishes, freshly-baked treats at turndown, Modern Dog Magazine, and a doggie clean up kit, so your pooch also gets pampered. We also received turndown service, with chocolates at our bedside and a carafe of fresh water.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Duck foie gras, grilled artichoke, brioche
    [Duck foie gras, grilled artichoke, brioche]

    Next door at Tableau Bistro and Bar, Executive Chef Marc-André Choquette prepares seasonal dishes alongside daily favourites such as braised short ribs, pork chops with herb spaetzle, and Meatless Monday specials.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Pork tenderloin, seasonal veggies
    [Pork tenderloin, pomme purée, green beans, served with a peppercorn sauce]

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Orecchiette pasta with short rib, tomato, kale
    [Orecchiette pasta with short rib, tomato, kale]

    On our visit, we enjoyed pork tenderloin (with pomme purée and green beans, served with a peppercorn sauce), and pasta and short ribs, with tomato, olive, and kale. Both were well-seasoned and beautifully presented.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Tart tatin, cinnamon anglaise, walnut tuile
    [Tart tatin, cinnamon anglaise, walnut tuile, vanilla bean gelato]

    Don’t miss the tart tatin, it’s gorgeous, served with a walnut tuile cookie, cinnamon anglaise, and a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Dec4

    OPUS Bar, Yaletown

    Yaletown’s OPUS Hotel, an iconic city hotspot well known for its creativity, design, and attentive service, presents newly-revamped OPUS Bar: a stylish cocktail destination recreated by acclaimed Vancouver interior designer Robert Bailey together with design consultant Craig Stanghetta.

    “The new OPUS Bar is a fantastic addition in the heart of the hotel, which will add an exciting element to the OPUS Hotel experience for our guests,” according to OPUS Hotel’s General Manager Nicholas Gandossi. “We hope that the rich and inviting space will become a central hub for travellers and locals alike.”

    Opus Hotel Revamped/Mike Room

    Last year, I toured the hotel’s redesigned rooms, featuring works by Michael Miller, Alana Rothstein, and Tiko Kerr. I’m happy to learn that the new bar echoes both the colorfulness and uniqueness of those rooms. Look for whimsical touches such as neon signs urging guests to ‘Just Hold Me’ and a focal point zebra-striped marble bar.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Nov27

    Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-12

    The Liberty Distillery has two great reasons to celebrate this week: the Granville Island distillery turns one and just launched its Endeavour Old Tom Gin. Liberty is at the forefront of offering hand-crafted, premium spirits made from 100% BC grain.

    Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-9

    At a small gathering at the 110-year-old saloon bar and tasting room, friends and media were gathered to sample from the newly-launched gin, one that begins with Liberty’s base Endeavour white gin that’s then aged in barrels.

    Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-4

    The party also gave us a chance to sit down and chat with Master Distiller Laurent Lafuente, who aims to create spirits with enough complexity to be enjoyed on its own. The Old Tom’s infused with locally-sourced botanicals; its toasty character comes from a three-step process — distillation, maceration, and barrel aging in American oak.

    Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-1 Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-2
    The gorgeous, customized handmade copper stills in their distilling room are crafted by German Master Christian Carl.

    Toulouse native Laurent’s been with the company for two years now, having previously worked in Switzerland, Antigua, Senegal, and both French and British Guyana. Between stints in the rum distilling industry (British Guyana, French Guyana, and Antigua), he trained as a winemaker.

    Liberty Distillery pouring Honey'd Sour
    [Pouring Honey’d Sours]

    A good percentage of the wine-making process involves many of the same steps as distilling. Laurent studied 75% theoretical distilling knowledge, picking up the rest via experimentation.

    Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-5 Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-3 Liberty Distillery The Mascotte
    [The star of the evening: The Mascotte]

    Meanwhile over at the busy bar, seven cocktails were offered to guests, including the feature of the evening: The Mascotte. This delightful sipper is created with Endeavour Old Tom, blackcurrant cordial, fresh apple juice, macerated cranberries, lemon zest, and a cinnamon stick.

    Liberty Distillery Honey'd Sour
    [Honey’d Sour: Railspur No. 2 Wildflower Honey Whiskey, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, egg white, bitters]

    Liberty Distillery The Gem
    [The Gem: Endeavour Origins, fresh lime juice, muddled blueberries, tarragon, soda]

    Liberty Distillery The Basford
    [The Basford: Endeavour Gin, rosemary-grapefruit cordial, fresh lemon juice]

    Liberty Distillery The Whistle Punk
    [The Whistle Punk: Truth Vodka, ginger cordial, fresh lime, basil, soda]

    If you’d like to order The Mascotte, it will be available along with Old Tom Gin tastings on November 29 (Liberty’s official birthday).

    Liberty Distillery Old Tom Release Party-8

    The Liberty Distillery is located at 1494 Old Bridge Road on Granville Island.

  • Nov26

    Kraken Eggnog Cocktail Competition-4

    Earlier this week, Kraken Black-Spiced Rum and certified organic Avalon Dairy joined forces at Legacy Liquor in the Olympic Village to put five Vancouver (and one Whistler) bartenders to the test in an eggnog cocktail competition. The Kraken name is derived from a mythical sea beast that cleverly translates over to the company branding, with clever, detail-rich labels and packaging.

    Kraken Eggnog Cocktail Competition-2

    Judging the contest were Dennis Pang, Natasha John, Craig Scherer, and Victoria Chemko, in a socially-charged evening hosted by Emcee Jeremy Szafron.

    Rim Rock Café's Anton preparing the Elf Helper Kraken Eggnog Cocktail Competition: The Elf Helper
    [Rim Rock Café’s Anton preparing the Elf Helper]

    The bartenders:

    Rim Rock Café’s Anton, fixing up an Elf Helper
    La Pentola’s Martin, with a West Point Nog, the evening’s winner!
    Tuc Craft Kitchen’s Ryan, with the Kraken Egg Cream
    Bambudda Gastown’s Dominic, mixing the Eggspresso Martini for us all
    Four Season Vancouver’s Todd, concocting his While The Children Are Sleeping

    In case you’ve not yet had the chance to try 94-proof Kraken, it’s produced by a Jersey City-based distributor that sources base rum from Trinidad and Tobago, distilled from molasses made from local sugar cane. The rum is then aged for 12 to 24 months, after which time Kraken adds a blend of spices to the mix, including cinnamon, ginger, and clove.

    All added ingredients are natural, gluten-free, and vegan.

    Although I didn’t sample the Kraken entirely on its own, the dark and stormy rum sure added a splash of flavour to the cocktails being shaken onsite at Legacy Liquor’s cozy back space and bar.

    Kraken Eggnog Cocktail Competition-8

    Making the evening even more festive were eats from Tap and Barrel and Aqua Sushi and Juice Bar, plus sweets from Archimallows, Sweet-E’s Creative Confections, and the Food Gays (homemade gourmet marshmallows fired up on the spot and amazing eggnog-caramel apples!).

    Kraken Eggnog Cocktail Competition-3 Kraken Eggnog Cocktail Competition-6

    For more information on Kraken and some tried-and-true recipes to boost your holiday parties, check out their very cool website. Their Android and Apple-compatible game, The Kraken: The Simulation Application for Nautical Maneuvering is likely to be as entertaining as is the company’s handsomely-illustrated book.

  • Nov21

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-1

    Vancouver craft beer lovers have one more beautiful space to raise a glass: Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House officially opened its doors on Tuesday in the old Chambar space on Beatty Street.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-5

    “In one of the earliest English legends, the Devil’s Elbow is said to have been a meeting place for two lovers – a young man and woman – whose woman’s father did not approve of their union. The father swore that he would rather the Devil take his daughter than have the two lovers meet again. On their next meeting, the Devil appeared and chased the terrified couple across the moor. When the Devil reached out to claim his prize, a loud voice boomed out and turned the Devil’s arm to stone. The Devil tore off his bent arm and threw it to the ground, and this crooked place in a road in Derbyshire became known as The Devil’s Elbow. Today, the term “Devil’s Elbow” is found as a place name in many areas of the world, where there are extreme bends in a road, trail or river. The Devil’s Elbow Class IV rapids on the Elaho River north of Squamish, BC is one such place, and is the namesake for Howe Sound Brewing’s Devil’s Elbow IPA, which lends its name to this alehouse.”

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-4

    The space is warm and inviting, seats up to 170 people, contains lots of rustic wood furnishings, a full range of Howe Sound Brewery beers, and a sweet tasting room in back.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-7 Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-6

    The theme of the art pieces was to combine beer, breweries, and devils or Hell. Howe Sound Brewery’s graphic designer Tom Pedriks commissioned six up-and-coming artists to create their own interpretation of that theme.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-10 Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-12

    The Devil’s Elbow owners have sourced rustic leather seats and gorgeous wooden tables; a large hollowed-out canoe hangs from the ceiling towards the side kitchen.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-11 Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-8

    The menu features smoke house dishes including ribs, smoked duck BLT’s, beef brisket, and beef and lamb sausage. Several other options (soups, salads, light dishes) will appeal to non-meat eaters. I can highly recommend the Asian sticky ribs ($13) with a sweet, spicy sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds. Goes down well with a Pumpkineater Ale or a Hopraiser IPA. You’ll likely not go wrong with the IPA Mac ’n Cheese either.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-2

    And desserts? How about a slice of deep-fried cheesecake with phyllo pastry, served à la mode, or a hemp fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream and fudge sauce ($8 each).

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-3

    I’ll be returning for more of those sticky ribs, and a glass of seasonal brew. Also look for other BC brewery selections (such as Parallel 49’s Ugly Sweater Milk Stout) a whiskey-charged cocktail list, a nice assortment of North American whiskeys, plus a few red and white wines.

    Worth trying: the triple pub trifecta in a cocktail: Beer, Bourbon and Bacon: 12 oz. pale ale, 1 oz. bourbon, smoked bacon on the side; $12.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-9

    Keep an eye out on their website for cask nights, beer and whiskey events, and food-pairing dinners as well. Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House is located at 562 Beatty Street in Vancouver and is open 11:30 am to midnight from Monday to Friday, 10 am to midnight on Saturday and Sunday, plus weekend brunch.

  • Oct10

    Earl's Fall Menu-Yaletown-3

    A group of media were invited to settle in for cocktails, conversation, and a Fall menu tasting earlier this week at Loft at Earl’s Yaletown as chefs Dawn Doucette and David Wong gave us the lowdown on the inspiration and preparation behind our multi-course dinner.

    Earl's Fall Menu-Yaletown-8
    [Tuna sushi cones]

    Gorgeous renovations have turned Earl’s Yaletown into a sleek, yet cozy lounge with an adjacent dining room.

    Earl's Fall Menu-Yaletown-7

    Clean white brick, exposed wood beams, leather banquettes, Dutch design firm du jour Moooi’s black horse in corner, simple wall lighting, neon sign at entrance, all evoking a warm, welcome atmosphere with the bar as focal point of the room, dividing lounge and dining spaces.

    Bees Knees: Hendricks gin, Cointreau, honey, fresh lemon, Angostura bitters
    [Bees Knees: Hendricks gin, Cointreau, honey, fresh lemon, Angostura bitters] 

    Earl’s Signature Caesar: Smirnoff vodka, clamato, signature spices
    [Earl’s Signature Caesar: Smirnoff vodka, clamato, signature spices]

    Cabin Fever: Crown Royal, tawny port, ginger, pineapple, fresh lemon, spiced bitters
    [Cabin Fever: Crown Royal, tawny port, ginger, pineapple, fresh lemon, spiced bitters]

    We began with tuna sushi cones and tuna tostadas, both on Earl’s appetizer menu. Lots of flavour and fresh ingredients packed into both dishes, perfect for sipping with a glass of white wine or one of several hand-crafted cocktails on the drinks menu.

    Each Earl’s restaurant works with a local craft brewer; in this neck of the woods, that honour goes to Whistler Brewing.

    Earl's Fall Menu-Yaletown-9
    [Salmon salad, Szechuan lime glaze, with soba noodles, zucchini, carrots, red pearl onions]

    Earl’s salmon salad has a moist, delicate, slow-baked salmon portion containing a Szechuan lime glaze, served with soba noodles, zucchini, carrots, and red pearl onions tossed in a tamarind dressing, with a cilantro yogurt swirl perfect for dipping. The crust is divine as is the glaze.

    Earl's Chef Dawn Doucette

    Chef Dawn Doucette came to our table to describe our next dish: Spatchcock chicken. The chicken is brined, then marinated in fish sauce, herbed, and cooked to order, seasoned in a lemongrass glaze.

    Spatchcock chicken, lemongrass glaze, Thai peanut sauce, julienne vegetables
    [Spatchcock chicken, lemongrass glaze, Thai peanut sauce, julienne vegetables]

    On the side is a spicy, aromatically-seasoned julienne salad with some thick, gorgeous Thai peanut sauce, and house-made naan bread.

    Earl's Gourmet burger: mushroom jam, tomato, shaved lettuce, onions, bacon, in-house smoked cheddar cheese Falafel burger with baba ganoush, homemade hummus, feta cheese
    [Earl’s gourmet burger, falafel burger with baba ganoush, homemade hummus, feta cheese]

    A couple of burgers are also part of Earl’s fall menu, one for vegetarians, another for meat lovers. The falafel burger comes with baba ganoush, homemade hummus, and feta cheese, while the hefty gourmet burger is packed with mushroom jam, tomato, shaved lettuce, onions, bacon, and in-house smoked cheddar cheese.

    Spring Creek Ranch Sirloin Earl's asparagus, frites
    [Spring Creek Ranch Sirloin, asparagus, peppered frites]

    Northern Alberta’s Spring Creek Ranch provides a tender sirloin cut to pair with grated-cheese topped asparagus. Frites are a side option and complete the trio together with the tender beef and al dente asparagus.

    Earl's Chef David Wong

    Chef David Wong’s the new kid at Earl’s Test Kitchen: he’s been at Earl’s for six months, worked previously as chef at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, and taught at Vancouver Community College’s culinary department.

    Our bountiful meal was capped off with a hazelnut bar with feuilletine bottom, finished with Maldon salt, dehydrated oranges, salted caramel sauce, and a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato.

    Hazelnut bar, salted caramel sauce, dehydrated orange, Maldon salt, vanilla bean gelato
    [Hazelnut bar, salted caramel sauce, dehydrated orange, Maldon salt, vanilla bean gelato]

    As Chef Wong says, a dark chocolate dessert doesn’t seem complete without Maldon salt. Agreed.

    Earl's Test Kitchen chefs Nick, David Wong, Andrew Hounlsow, Bowen Lansdell
    [Earl’s Test Kitchen chefs Nick, David Wong, Andrew Hounlsow, Bowen Lansdell]

    Earl’s offers globally-inspired and seasoned dishes for all tastes. I can see coming here and having all my fellow diners at the table finding an entrée to suit what they’re after in a meal, from Asian to Mediterranean.  

    And according to their marketing team, each Earl’s highlights their region’s best products throughout the year. 

    Earl's Fall Menu-Yaletown-2

    Dining at Earl’s Loft Yaletown is a beautiful thing, even though things Can Get Messy. The Loft at Earl’s Yaletown is located upstairs from Earl’s at 1095 Mainland Street. The space is available for private events as well as being open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights. Earl’s Yaletown is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.

  • Aug20

    Tea House in Stanley Park-3

    A former garrison and officer’s mess during World War II, Vancouver’s Teahouse in Stanley Park is steeped in our city’s history. Post-war, the house served as a military residence, later opening as the Ferguson Point Tea Room during the summer.

    The restaurant was owned by Hungarian couple Steve and Eva Floris who escaped Soviet-occupied Hungary after surviving the Holocaust. They emigrated to Vancouver in 1949, and obtained a lease from the Vancouver Park Board to operate then-named Art Gallery Tea Room in Stanley Park. Steve and Eva sold the restaurant in 1964 and went into real estate. Long retired and more comfortable with his word processing skills, Steve later documented their war-time and displaced persons (DP)-refugee experiences in a memoir, Escape From Pannonia.

    The house fell into a state of disrepair in the 70’s, later renovated and reopened in 1978 as the Teahouse Restaurant.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-7

    The Teahouse is part of the Sequoia company of restaurants, located in the choicest parts of Vancouver: Seasons in the Park in Queen E Park, Cardero’s in Coal Harbour, and The Sandbar on Granville Island.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-20 Tea House in Stanley Park-6

    Over 35 years later, the Stanley Park destination dining spot is still going strong with diners booking into the tea room, drawing room, conservatory, and on fine days, the patio. We were lucky to enjoy dinner with one of Vancouver’s best settings at sundown.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-4 Tea House in Stanley Park-2

    A quick walk just outside the Teahouse, and you’re right at English Bay, where tourists and locals alike gather for the evening show with a stunning mountain backdrop. The restaurant is set amongst lush manicured gardens including colourful flowers and palm trees that take on golden hues with the setting sun.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-9 Tea House in Stanley Park-10

    Clientele here is mixed between families, couples, groups, and out-of-towners. We started the evening off with an array of appetizers, including heirloom tomatoes served with both house-made hummus and marinated bocconcini, smoked salmon on cucumber slices, and gluten-free crostini with wild mushroom, parmesan and mascarpone cheeses, baby shrimp, and balsamic reduction.

    Tea House in Stanley Park starters

    Alongside a list of summer cocktails (Cucumber Smash, Spiked Palmer, sangria, etc.), we ordered the Summer Haze, the current featured cocktail. Oksana tequila is mixed with grapefruit and pineapple juices, cherries, and champagne on top. Very colourful and refreshing alongside our first bites. The cherry flavour comes right to the top of the palate and nicely complements the rest of the juices and champagne making for a great sipper.

    Tea House's Summer Haze

    Assistant Bar Managers Mennie, Jordan, and Rob work together with Floor and Bar Manager Sandy. They like being challenged to invent new concoctions, and often attend a Sunday bartending school to hone their skills.

    BC and international reds, whites, bottled and draft beer, bourbon, whiskey, rye, scotch, liqueurs, dessert wine, and port complete the restaurant’s drink offerings.

    Sockeye salmon, crab cakes, lemon-caper purée

    My entrée featured wild, line-caught Sockeye salmon with crab cakes, and lemon/caper purée dots gracing the artfully-presented dish. The salmon’s crisp crust was excellent and complimented the flavour of the fish and its accompanying seasonal veggies (broccolini, asparagus, and beans, all neatly tucked into a packet wrapped with a strip of greens), plus a roasted heirloom Roma tomato. Crab cakes were moist and contained some filling but not enough to mask the crab. Most of the seafood dishes here are Oceanwise-sanctioned.

    Beef tenderloin, grilled jumbo tiger prawns, seasonal veggies

    My husband was served the AAA beef tenderloin, with a skewer of four grilled jumbo tiger prawns, seasoned veggies and a roasted Roma, alongside herbed potatoes. The beef was juicy and tender, with a nice red wine demi-glace. The shrimps weren’t as tender as they could have been, perhaps grilling for a minute less would have solved the issue.

    The herbed potatoes contained a lovely, soft olive oil taste. We also tried some of Teahouse’s famous (read addictive) double-baked, thin pomme frites. Once our friendly server John mentioned them, we had our order in. Speaking of service, two words: top notch.

    The beef tenderloin went nicely with a glass of Burrowing Owl’s Cabernet Franc 2012, a medium-bodied red that added some spice to the beef.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-13

    Desserts came courtesy of in-house pastry chef Noel, who overseas a small but well-varied dessert menu. The chocolate Milano cake is a triple-chocolate mousse delight served atop an almond wafer crust, while the white chocolate cheesecake has a lovely cherry coulis and graham cracker crust.

    Triple chocolate mousse cake with almond wafter crust Vanilla bean creme brulee White chocolate cheesecake with cherry coulis

    We also enjoyed a vanilla bean crème brûlée, happy that we’d saved room for dessert! The crème contains vanilla bean flecks, its crackly top golden. All three choices we tried were satisfying, though we were torn between the Milano cake and the crème brûlée. Not to discount the cheesecake—it too had a lovely, soft taste with a juicy amount of cherries on top.

    White chocolate cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, creme brulee

    The Teahouse in Stanley Park is located at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park and is open for lunch Monday to Friday, 11:30 am to 4 pm, dinner seven nights a week from 4 pm to late, weekend and holiday brunch, 10 am to 3 pm, and small plates on Saturday and Sunday, 3 to 4 pm.

    Check out their Sunday night prime rib dinner, where for $27.50, you can order AAA slow-roasted prime rib with seasonal veggies, or choose the three-course option for $35, including Caesar salad, prime rib, and a piece of that amazing chocolate mousse cake.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-5

    There’s metered parking outside and down the road, but this romantic spot is also easily reached via bike. The Teahouse is ideal for hosting visitors, or for simply getting through a busy afternoon and winding down in our city’s own gorgeous backyard.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-22 Tea House in Stanley Park-21

    We were guests of the Teahouse in Stanley Park for the purpose of experiencing the restaurant and its ambiance.

  • Aug11

    Boulevard VIP Launch-9

    Last week, VIP, media, and guests were invited to sample some of Chef Alex Chen’s West coast dishes and seafood at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-12 Boulevard VIP Launch-10

    The elegantly-designed, 290-seat restaurant is home to a variety of beautifully prepared seafood, meats, and seasonal risottos and pasta dishes presented with West coast flair.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-6 Boulevard VIP Launch-21

    Boulevard aims for a cross between a traditional European bistro feel with shades of black and cream, Parisian-inspired domed awnings, and pergolas, mixing old and new styles and detailing. Sleek lighting fixtures mingle with dainty ceiling moldings to create a rich, yet casual atmosphere.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-11 Boulevard Vancouver interior
    [Bottom photo courtesy of Boulevard Vancouver]

    A private dining room, lounge, 12-seat oyster bar and wrap-around patio complete the picture. Located right on Burrard in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Boulevard welcomes diners for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night menu service.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-19 Boulevard VIP Launch-3
    [Professor Suzuki: Thyme-infused vodka, sea buckthorn, cranberry liqueur, cranberry juice, BC honey, lime]

    Signature cocktails, international and BC wines, and beer complete the seafood-focused menu. Bar Manager Justin Taylor and his team shake up bellinis, caesars, wild mules, Van Dusen sours, and others using high-quality local craft spirits, house-made syrups, and infusions.

    Christophe Bonzon of Chez Christophe with Alex Chen
    [Christophe Bonzon of Chez Christophe with Alex Chen]

    Malaysian-born Executive Chef Alex Chen’s previously worked at Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge, as well as Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and Toronto. He apprenticed under Chef Robert Sulatycky at Vancouver’s Wedgewood Hotel & Spa. Spending time along the West coast has brought forth his love for seafood, and judging by the dishes that were passed around that evening, he’s passionate about presentation, locally-sourced ingredients, and taste.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-7 Boulevard VIP Launch-8

    Together with Chef de Cuisine Roger Ma, Justin Taylor, Maître d’ Brian Hopkins, Robert “Oyster Bob” Skinner, Wine Director Lisa Haley, and Director of Operations Steve Edwards, Boulevard will likely become one of the city’s most talked-about dining experiences for years to come.

    I’m anxious to return here to try the seafood tower, containing wild sidestripe shrimp ceviche, Albacore tuna poke, Read Island mussel escabèche, Dungeness Crab Louie, snow crab legs, wild shrimp, and local oysters.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-17 Boulevard VIP Launch-18
    [L to R: Gorgeous upcycled chandelier in private room; house-made desserts and chocolates]

    Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar is located at 845 Burrard Street in Vancouver. More of my Boulevard VIP opening photos can be found here.

  • Jul28

    Joe Fortes Brunch-4

    With a wide grin from Maitre d’ Frenchy at the Joe Fortes door, we knew we’d be well taken care of on our recent outing to one of Vancouver’s best-loved steak and seafood restaurants.

    Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House turns 30 next year, its name taken from Seraphin “Joe” Fortes, a Barbados-born sailor who arrived here in 1885 and became a popular figure in our city’s early culture. A competitive swimmer, Joe was appointed the city’s first official lifeguard at the turn of the 20th century, after teaching so many kids at the beach to swim. Before becoming a lifeguard, Joe was a bartender.
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  • Jul23

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-2

    Last Friday, media were invited to check out the nearly-completed and expanded Chambar Restaurant, located next to the current Beatty Street location in Crosstown Vancouver.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-5

    A city favourite for years, Chambar is three-star-Michelin-trained chef Nico and wife Karri Schuermans’ vision of Belgian and North African cuisine melded into a diverse menu of appetizers, moules frites, plus lamb, duck, venison, and sustainably-caught seafood dishes.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-3

    Karri will oversee the new space’s design, with blood red booths, Italian-designed chairs, and a rotating art collection on the walls. The 1912 heritage elements have been preserved and complement the brick and wood walls. Resin-covered table tops with walnut inlays, plus a custom-designed communal table that can seat up to 10 diners will move to the new space.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-12

    The restaurant’s bar will feature prominently towards the front of the establishment. Although covered at present, we’ve been told that it’s inlaid with walnut and tined resin, perfect for enjoying some of Chambar’s award-winning cocktails, wide range of wines, and beers, one brewed just for the restaurant. We found it immensely refreshing on the warm, late afternoon day of our visit.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-10

    A side patio will seat 50 diners away from the street. There’ll be enough space to accommodate 270 diners between the restaurant’s two levels. I personally can’t wait to see what the lighting will look like together with all the thoughtful touches when opening day arrives.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-4
    [A much larger kitchen downstairs]

    Chambar is also proud of their extensive wine collection, including eight wines by the glass, 50 international whites, 75 international reds, 25 BC wines, and 15 sparkling wines.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-6
    [Summer sippers between the construction]

    The restaurant’s name is derived from a loosely translated French saying, “When the teacher leaves the room, all the kids go crazy”. In other words, enjoy a fun night on the town here with friends, good food, and drink. In addition to dinner, Chambar will also start offering breakfast, lunch, brunch, and a late-night tapas menu.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-8

    As we walked through the main floor, downstairs kitchen, and side rooms, we kept imagining the finished product through the dust and machinery. An outside rooftop deck with gorgeous city views in the adjacent building is also available for booking special dinners and events.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-7 Chambar Restaurant Preview-9

    Chambar as we know it will close in two weeks, with the larger space opening shortly thereafter at 568 Beatty Street in Vancouver.

  • Jul7

    Giovane Cafe

    Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Giovane Café now features Stumptown Coffee’s Cold Brew on tap. The Portland-headquartered coffee company’s become a favourite bean roaster and destination café chain for North Americans, using direct-trade sourcing and selling a sustainable coffee product line.

    Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee

    The nitro-infused cold brew is a crafted coffee recipe of steeped, fresh roasted beans creating a complex, smooth and sweet, full-bodied brew with a chocolate finish.

    I had the chance to sample a glass recently at Giovane together with a gourmet salad and Genovese panini with roasted turkey, pear, fontina, proscuitto, arugula, and pesto (a divine combination with the large pearl couscous, tomato, cucumber, and mint salad). It’s lovely, even before adding milk. Each serving is topped with a layer of natural, creamy foam.
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  • Jun20

    Earl's Summer Kick-off-2

    Last night saw the launch of Earl’s Restaurants’ summer kick-off, to celebrate longer days, patio weather, and a summer menu.

    Earl's Summer Kick-off-1 Earl's Summer Kick-off-8

    A fun new campaign with a ‘It’s on a school night’ theme includes a menu with salads, cedar-planked salmon, crispy Thai prawns, and a Sunday through Thursday special with $5 tacos, nachos, tequilas, margaritas, and Coronas. These deals will last through September 9.

    Earl's Los Cabos chicken tacos
    [Earl’s Los Cabos chicken tacos]

    In addition, each day has its own food and drink specials (an excellent Tuesday deal: 12 oz. Driftwood IPA sleeves for $3!).

    Alongside tried-and-true favourites BBQ back ribs, burgers, and a wealth of salads, soups, and sharing plates, comes a very tasty, light prawn and quinoa salad, made festive with avocado, feta cheese, strawberries, candied pecans, in a citrus honey vinaigrette (perfectly paired with a crisp glass of white wine or a sangria).

    Earl's Prawn + Quinoa salad
    [Earl’s Prawn + quinoa salad]

    The salad was a great combination of tastes, with the quinoa and crumbled feta so well paired in the citrus honey vinaigrette that I’m hoping to replicate it at home. Los Cabos chicken tacos (served three to an order) are served on soft corn tortillas with Valentina hot sauce.

    Earl's BBQ pork buns
    [Earl’s BBQ pork buns]

    Another discovery was the BBQ pork buns, created to look like mini tacos, dressed in a flavourful, not-too-spicy hoisin sauce, garnished with cilantro and roasted peanuts. So tasty!
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  • May28

    EatDrinkPlay banner 

    On Thursday, June 19, the Firehall Arts Centre will present its annual fundraiser EAT.DRINK.PLAY., an unforgettable evening celebrating locally-produced food, drink, and performance. Proceeds will help the Firehall continue to bring cutting-edge theatre and dance to Vancouver.

    The event will highlight a selection of food from Gastown and Railtown’s burgeoning food scene graciously provided by 11 local restaurants – Lily Mae’s, Peckinpah, Cadeaux Bakery, The Irish Heather, Salt Tasting Room, Bitter, Hogan’s Alley Cafe, Deacon’s Corner, Mahoney & Sons, Elephant and Castle, and Scent of a Sandwich. Tastings of microbrewery Parallel 49’s seasonal offerings will be available, plus vodka and crème de cassis from Odd Society Spirits, a newly opened small-batch craft distillery in the heart of East Vancouver.
     
    This celebration of all things local will also feature a ‘taster flight’ of live theatre, dance, and music performed around the Firehall space, including an acoustic performance by rising theatre star and three-time Jessie Award nominee Kayvon Kelly (Chelsea Hotel) and a performance by Proud star Emmelia Gordon.
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  • Apr2

    MARKET Sashimi with chipoltle aioli, crispy Japanese rice, honey soya glaze

    Rare Finds is an annual fundraising cocktail party to benefit the Rare Disease Foundation. This year’s fifth annual event will again be held at VanDusen Botanical Garden, hosting many of Vancouver’s top chefs, mixologists, and pastry artists in a naturally beautiful setting.

    The popular event includes both a silent and live auction (featuring many rare items), delicious bites, and live entertainment by DJ Girls on Wax. I attended in 2012—it was a fabulous night on the town. Here’s a photo set from that memorable evening as well.

    little girl

    The Rare Disease Foundation is committed to growing and developing a community that provides a new approach for rare disease research and care. The organization provides funding to inspired clinicians and scientists for their patient-focused projects. All proceeds are distributed within three weeks of the event for immediate impact.
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