Bel Cafe counter

Bel Café is the latest European style café to hit Vancouver (after local favourites 49th Parallel, Artigiano, Medina, Milano and others).

Pate de Fruits

According to Chef David Hawksworth, “The concept for Bel Café is deep routed in the foundation of European café culture.” Both West coast companies 49th Parallel Coffee and SPOT Tea are on board, providing a wealth of warm drink options for diners.

Bel Café is located in a prime Vancouver location – right on the corner of Howe and Georgia – next door to both Hawksworth Restaurant and Rosewood Hotel Georgia. The modern brown with light blue-accented café offers both interior and window table seating, with a view to the kitchen in back.

A peek inside the kitchen (Pastry chef Wayne Kozinko, left)
[A peek inside the kitchen (Pastry chef Wayne Kozinko, left)]

I like the attention to detail, such as the little blue buttons on the brown banquettes, and the fun custom wallpaper to match the rest of the café.

Bel Cafe interior seating

Even the branded macaron boxes stacked on the wooden shelves are in sync with the rest of the café’s design.

Bel Cafe macarons packaging design

The pastries are baked fresh each morning by pastry chef Wayne Kozinko. I was part of a small group of food writers invited last week to sample several sandwiches, salads, desserts and warm beverages, during Vancouver’s first snow of the season.

Dark chocolate with raspberry mini cakes
[Dark chocolate with raspberry cakes]

White chocolate, Kalamanzi, coconut mini cake
[White chocolate, Kalamanzi, coconut cake]

Double lemon tart
[Double lemon tart]

Dark hot chocolate
[Bel dark hot chocolate]

Once seated, we were greeted by Bel Café’s manager Nathan Gilmore, who took our beverage orders. I tried two drinks: Bel’s dark hot chocolate, made with 70% Valrhona dark chocolate, and the Café Caramel, warming the body with dulche de leche.

Café Caramel, made with dulce de leche
[Café Caramel, made with dulce de leche]

One of several other coffee items on the menu that caught my eye was the Hawksworth Epic Espresso (I had to leave something to try on my next visit). Tea lovers will also want to try Bella Blend tea, a fusion of organic Earl Grey and lavender. Perusing the menu, I also noticed a wide variety of teas as well as Chai tea latte and the Bel London Fog.

Nathan Gilmore looks after the coffee program at both Bel Café and Hawksworth Restaurant, next door at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

Bel Cafe pastry chef Wayne Kozinko
[Bel Café pastry chef Wayne Kozinko]

Nathan also introduced us to pastry chef Wayne Kozinko, on hand to discuss the desserts and answer questions from our group. The cakes that are sold at the counter are also available in larger sizes for holidays and custom orders.

Roasted butternut squash, asian pear, arugula, brie, apple marmalade sandwich
[Roasted butternut squash, Asian pear, arugula, brie, apple marmalade sandwich]

Ham and cheese, french ham, emmenthal, dijon sandwich
[Ham and cheese: French ham, Emmenthal, dijon]

Roasted Berkshire pork, red cabbage, jalapeño, house mustard sandwich
[Roasted Berkshire pork, red cabbage, jalapeño, house mustard sandwich]

Roasted tomato soup
[Roasted tomato soup]

We sampled several sandwiches, created by Chef David Hawksworth, along with a salad and a roasted tomato soup. I found the Spicy green papaya chicken salad fresh and yes, a bit spicy on the palate.

Spicy Green Papaya Chicken salad, with soy ginger vinaigrette
[Spicy Green Papaya Chicken salad, with soy ginger vinaigrette]

Spiced pulled chicken, bibb lettuce, caramelized onion, provolone sandwich
[Spiced pulled chicken, bibb lettuce, caramelized onion, provolone sandwich]

Out of the sandwiches, myself and a couple of other guests found a favourite in the Spiced pulled chicken sandwich, prepared with bibb lettuce, caramelized onion, provolone cheese, and harissa aioli. All of the sandwiches use bread from Point Grey’s Mix the Bakery (I’m a fan of their multigrain seedy creations as well).

Kees van der Westen custom espresso machine

That gorgeous Mirage coffee machine at the service counter was custom made for Bel. It’s a one of a kind machine designed by Kees van der Westen (more great Dutch design!) and has a built-in pre-infuser, a hands-free steam system, and a variable pressure dial that reaches 3.0+ bar.

The café will be licensed within the month, serving a limited selection of wine, beer, and cocktails. For now though, artisan teas, speciality coffees, and fresh juices take front and centre, together with an array of tantalizing desserts, cookies, colourful macarons, croissants and brioches.

Dark chocolate and raspberry cake
[Dark chocolate and raspberry cake]

Rose & Raspberry, Pistachio macarons
[Rose & Raspberry, Pistachio macarons]

Chocolate croissants
[Chocolate croissants]

Vanilla brioche
[Vanilla brioche]

David Hawksworth, Wayne Kozinko, and Nathan Gilmore have created a solid, quality approach to casual dining that’s easily accessible to locals and visitors alike, with an emphasis on local and seasonal items.

Bel Café is located at 801 West Georgia, and is open daily from 6 am to 8 pm, and from 7 am to 7 pm on weekends. Visit the website for more information and menus. All food items are also available for take out.


  • Comment by Matt Collinge — November 21, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

    I think I gained 5 lbs just looking at the pictures.

  • Comment by Jenny — November 30, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

    Amazing photos. I can’t wait to try this place! What would you say your favourite items (savoury & sweet) are?

  • Comment by arianec — November 30, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    @Jenny – I would have to say the spiced pulled chicken sandwich, and for the sweet tooth, combine the dark chocolate cake with a Café Caramel! Hope you get the chance to enjoy the food there soon. Let me know what your faves were.

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