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#1 Marty L.

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 03:56 PM

Jill and I are planning to spend around 10 days in Vancouver and elsewhere in British Columbia at the end of the summer.

Since we haven't been before and have no idea where to go, I thought I would consult the experts.

Any tips on where to go, where to stay, where to eat, what to see and do would be most welcome.

Thanks in advance.

#2 Wilfrid1

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 04:00 PM

Me too.
Elect-a-lujah

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#3 cabrales

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 05:12 PM

I like Lumiere (gastronomic area and bar area, on two separate visits). It's a Relais Gourmand/winner of the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant of the Year, Gold Award, also a newly added Grands Tables du Monde designee. Only prix fixe (C$100 or about US$60-70 for menus, except one that is C$150). C$100 menus have C$50 wine pairings.

www.lumiere.ca

The fusili bolognese at the bar area is one of my preferred dishes there.

Also, freshly terminated geoduck at Kirin Seafood, on Cambie St (note there are several). Alaska King crab, when in season, at Sun Sui Wah, on Main St (note there are also several). You need 3-4 people for an Alaska King crab.

If you have specific questions on other restaurants, don't hesitate to let me know.

Consider buying some Inniskillin Vidal ice wine. Note the bottles will designate (on the inside) the year, and on the outside packaging whether the icewine is from Okanagan or Niagara (I prefer Niagara). There is also a very difficult (in the US) to find, but unduly sweet, single-vineyard Vidal ice wine from the same maker called "Plut Vineyard" or something like that. ;) Much cheaper than in the US.

#4 Wilfrid1

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 05:34 PM

Many years ago, I visited a restaurant in Vancouver called The Seven Seas which boasted an impressively extensive buffet of seafood and fish. I haven't heard about it in a long time, which may mean that it's either closed or slipped downhill. Does anyone know of it?
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#5 Marty L.

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 06:34 PM

Thanks Cabrales for your input. I've followed your posts on Lumiere before and it is definitely on our agenda.

Although we plan to spend at least 2 or 3 days in Vancouver, do you have any suggestions for places to stay in the countryside? We like to mix it up between city and country on our trips and I've been told there are some beautiful areas not far from Vancouver.

#6 cabrales

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 07:03 PM

I've never been to Tofino on Vancouver Island, but Wickannish Inn is a Relais & Chateaux/non-Relais Gourmand (mixed reviews by people I know, off the board). Drive is significant, even after you get onto Vancouver Island (using a ferry).

http://www.wickinn.com/

My own recommendation would be the Okanagan wineries, which are within 4-5 hours of Vancouver (towards Seattle). Inniskillin has an Oakanagan winery, and there are also wineries with small restaurants. I posted on Chowhound about Vancouver Magazine's list of Oakangan restaurants. If you're going there, I'll do some work on it later. I've not yet been there either, although it's high on my list.

http://www.inniskill...?location=wines

#7 Wilfrid1

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 07:17 PM

The ferry trip to Vancouver island is a very pretty ride.
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#8 Redhead

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 07:24 PM

Many years ago, I visited a restaurant in Vancouver called The Seven Seas which boasted an impressively extensive buffet of seafood and fish. I haven't heard about it in a long time, which may mean that it's either closed or slipped downhill. Does anyone know of it?

Yes, one could say it "slipped" alright. If it's the one I think you're referring to, it was located on a boat docked at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. After some debate and a wee bit of outrage among locals/regulars, the operation was closed and the boat removed to god-knows-where (there are big re-development plans for the waterfront and former shipyards in this area, fyi). Frankly, in a decade of living on the North Shore, I never knew a single person who ate there. You can still, however, get a decent lunch next door in the Lonsdale Quay Market. I often see visitors slurping down freshly shucked Miyagi, Fanny Bay, Belon and other local and imported oyster varieties while standing around the crab tanks there. The place (in the southwest corner) does a roaring business at Christmas....

A reputable seafood-only buffet replacement does not spring to mind -- although there are usually plenty of seafood options on the brunch menu at various downtown hotel restaurants, and I can vouch for the buffet at Heron's in the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel.

I think real seafood fanatics either buy it fresh from their favorite shop and cook it at home, or they frequent Vancouver restaurants whose chefs are known for their prowess with seafood. Tojo is one, and Hawksworth at West and whoever is in the kitchen at Diva at the Met and Karen Barnaby at the Fish House in Stanley Park -- I've had superb fish at those places.

#9 cabrales

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 07:56 PM

Here are some of my additional preferred foodie activities:

-- As I mentioned, go to Lumiere's bar area (no reservations; do not mistakenly go to Feenie's, which is also appropriate) -- this is the entryway to the gastronomic Lumiere restaurant. If available, do not miss the following:

Roasted Marinated Sablefish (aka local ling cod, but a designer name) sake & maple syrup-marinated with sautéed potatoes and leeks, shimiji, short-rib meat and soy & hijiki broth

Fusilli col Buco Bolognese
and shaved parmigiano reggiano C$18 :lol: --> US$12-13 :lol:

Red Kuri Squash & Mascarpone Ravioli
with black truffle beurre blanc (this is a version of Feenie's gastronoimc signature dish; whether you like the pasta thickness is a matter of personal preference)

-- Go to Robson's street for a sense of downtown Vancouver, although this area is extremely touristy. You could combine that with lunch at Le Crocodile -- but only after you check what their menu express (soup/salad, plus one given daily entree) is for the day in question. They usually have extra tables available for lunch. The Menu Express at Le Crocodile, which is considered among Vancouver's best traditional French restaurants, is C$20 (around $13-15).

http://www.lecrocodi...t.com/food.html

-- Go to Shijo's, for a before-dinner snack (e.g., before dinner at Lumiere bar, but not before a dinner at Lumiere gastronomic). Order only the local (British-Columbia-caught) sea urchin -- which are huge. One order is sufficient for two people. They sort of taste like other sea urchin (fresh), but it's worth sampling.

-- Go to Pan Pacific Hotel for coffee or breakfast (aka the white hotel that is artichecturally pretty interesting).

-- The best cheese shop in the city is Les Amis du Fromage.

http://www.buycheese.com/

#10 Redhead

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 09:11 PM

Although we plan to spend at least 2 or 3 days in Vancouver, do you have any suggestions for places to stay in the countryside? We like to mix it up between city and country on our trips and I've been told there are some beautiful areas not far from Vancouver.

Cabrales suggested the Okanagan and Wilfrid is partial to Vancouver Island, and I will freely admit that there are more "foodie" opportunities in these places than in Whistler, but the two-hour drive on the Sea-to-Sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler is a must-do, in my opinion, for the scenery alone. You drive along Howe Sound up past Britannia Beach (old mining town - stop in and take a tour of the site, which includes a short train ride through an abandoned tunnel) and Shannon Falls to Squamish, then switch from ocean/islands to mountains/canyons/rivers, and it's really spectacular, one of North America's top 10 scenic drives according to Nat'l Geographic Traveler.

There are some good restaurants in Whistler (Bearfoot Bistro, Rim Rock, Araxi and the new Apres), and during your visit at least one if not both gondolas should be operating up Blackcomb and Whistler mountains for daytime visitors (usually open from 10 to 4). What a heady feeling to ride those lifts, your legs swinging freely under you, coasting up and up and up the green ski slopes to the crystalline glaciers. The temperature drops, and the village drops away beneath you. You might spot some cinnamon bears, or hear the pika emit their funny little squeaks.

There are some gorgeous hotels in and around the lower and upper villages. We love the granddaddy of them all, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, but a brand new Four Seasons just opened this weekend and is getting good buzz. Summer is low-season, and rooms at the no-frills hotels start at $69 Cdn. (the Coast, for example). There are great biking trails on the mountains and in the valley (no elevation gain!), golf courses, rafting, etc.

The Sunday farmer's market in the upper village is worth a look, and you can get a fabulous breakfast right there at Chef Bernie's. Owner Bernard Casavant was the first executive chef at the Chateau Whistler and he's a big supporter of local producers, especially growers like Jordan Sturdy who is based in nearby Pemberton and sells direct from his farm (yellow fingerling potatoes, yum).

We've taken many visitors to Whistler over the years and no one returned disappointed.

#11 cabrales

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 09:46 PM

Some old posts from another board:

http://www.chowhound...sages/8029.html
Le Crocodile (Menu Express description)

http://www.chowhound...sages/7422.html
(large uni at Shijo's)

http://www.chowhound...sages/7428.html

Above is a useful summary of Oakanagan restaurants. Mission Hill, Quails' Gate, Burrowing Owl Winery and Sumac Ridge are all major Oakanagan prodcuers. The wines to be focused on are obviously whites, instead of reds. Don't expect any great white wines, just average-plus, interesting wines that are not too expensive generally. :P

Of course, one must have Vancouver crab aka Dungeness crab from the region. Any decent seafood restaurant (incl. Kirin and Sun Sui Wah) will have it, at very reasonable prices. Order it with ginger and scallions. Also, like certain NYC Chinatown restaurants that source huge oysters from Canada, there are oysters, each of which is as long as one's outstretched hand at many Chinese restaurants. They are really inexpensive (like US$2-3/piece), and quite substantial (although neither delicate nor flavorful). I tend to think that black bean preparations destroy the ability to taste the oyster, but so be it.

Other quirky aspects of the Vancouver food culture:

-- Vij's is constantly highly rated, although I have yet to visit and I doubt I would like the Indian-related cuisine.

-- There are a lot of "Hong Kong cafes", which serve a Hong Kong-perspective on things like spaghetti bolognese or spaghetti with pork chops. These are typically inexpensive, and hearty. One if Gloucester (sp) on Cambie. A typically good thing to order is pork chops with baked spaghetti. Oftentimes, meals come with a cream soup, and a simple dessert and/or tea or coffee, for a very reasonable sum.

-- There are also a lot of Chinese hotpot venues. One specialist is Grand Honour (there are two, on facing corners of Granville and 41st). The one on the East side is better, including for dim sum and congee (which are decent). Perhaps hotpot is inappropriate for the summertime, but some people still take it in.

-- Prince Edward Island oysters (another Canadian region) are easier to find in Vancouver than in the US East Coast. Other Canadian oysters are also interesting to sample. Joe Fortes has a decent oyster selection, although I don't rate other food at that place particularly highly. JF is on a side-street to the busiest Robston St section. You will be able to quickly find it.

#12 Marty L.

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 09:49 PM

Thank you all for your input. This is most helpful.

#13 cabrales

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 09:55 PM

I must emphasize how reasonably priced geoduck is, relative to prices in the US, and how much more fresh and delicious-tasting. ;)

The leading professional restaurant guide is Vancouver Magazine:

http://www.vancouver...ant_awards.html

My first visit to Cru, which I think would be worth a visit despite a lesser second meal there recently:

http://www.chowhound...sages/7932.html

http://www.cru.ca/

Any input on La Regalade in West Van? I heard the chef is formerly Michelin-starred (?) (one?), prior to moving to Vancouver. :huh:

#14 Wilfrid1

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 10:38 PM

I'm embarrassed, because on several trips I've been driven around the fabulous countryside outside Vancouver, and it was all quite wonderful. However - and being a non-driver may have something to do with this - I can't remember where any of it was. Anyway, you'll have a great time. An obvious thing to do in the city, if you're there for a spell, is to go up Bear Mountain for the views.

Vancouver Island actually was quite surreal. Had something of the feel of the village in The Prisoner TV series - it's like an impeccable little piece of the United Kingdom, preserved from the 1950s (maybe it's become more diverse since I first visited). It's for the ferry ride that I recommend it. The boat ridedown the coast to Seattle is also picturesque, but I'm not sure that fits with your itinerary.
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#15 tighe

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 11:26 PM

For me, a trip to Vancouver isn't complete without a dinner at West. David Hawksworth is a truly fantastic chef and has always been willing to do special menus when I've visited.

I didn't go to La Regalade, but did visit a different French restaurant in West Van on my last trip: L'Emotion. The chef has worked in Michelin starred kitchens in France and had his own restaurant in Provence before moving to Vancouver. I thought the food was excellent and an astounding value at $42 Canadian for 4 courses.

Our server at West said that Aurora Bistro is the best new place in town that he's been to in some time. Unfortunately I didn't have time to get there.

Kirin is a good place downtown for dim sum and Cioppino's in Yaletown offers very high quality Italian.
It may have been Camelot for Jack and Jacqueline
But on the Che Guevara highway filling up with gasoline
Fidel Castro's brother spies a rich lady who's crying
Over luxury's dissapointment
So he walks over and he's trying
To sympathize with her, but thinks that he should warn her
That the Thirld World is just around the corner