Despite a slowing economy, the HST and tough new drinking laws, Vancouver entrepreneurs continue to add to the city’s bustling, ever-expanding restaurant scene. This spring and summer saw a slew of new spots open their doors, and there are more than just a few worth checking out when you next decide to spend your dining dollars.
Canada’s Top Chef competitor Dale Mackay didn’t have to wait long after his last gig (Lumière, which closed) to get behind the stove at Ensemble. Just west of Robson on the corner of Smithe and Thurlow, in the spot where Corner Bistro once resided, you’ll find reasonably priced dishes, some of which Mackay presented during the Food Network competition. Come in for snacks or dinner; portion sizes vary. Must try: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, $8.50. 850 Thurlow St., 604-565-1770.
If you thought Vancouver had enough Thai dining spots, think again: Pink Elephant takes Thai to a funkier level with a modern interior, stellar cocktails and innovative Thai Cuisine. The restaurant draws a younger crowd looking for somewhere to come to sip cocktails and share tapas, slurp a noodle soup, or curry-dish. Not to miss: Happy Hour Thai Noodle Soup Combination, daily from 3 p.m – 5 p.m., $6. 1152 Alberni St., 604-646-8899.
In the soon-to-open (and newly renovated) Hotel Georgia, local favourite Chef David Hawksworth recently unveiled his namesake restaurant. A stunningly gorgeous interior comprised of four distinct dining rooms, there is a spot for special occasions, in the glamorous Pearl Room, and one for ambient after-work drinks, in the bar and lounge. Service here is competent and professional and the kitchen delivers on every level. Sample: Spring Pea Agnolotti, $22. 801 West Georgia St., 604-673-7000.
Tableau Bar and Bistro
In the Loden Hotel near Coal Harbour, the owners shuttered the doors of their high-end Restaurant, Voya, and opened a more wallet-friendly bistro: Tableau. Chef Andre Choquette (also ex-Lumière) has gone with a French-theme for this new, more casual room. A sidewalk patio has been added and the design team created a nautical/Hollywood theme, resulting in a much more intimate setting. Dine on: Grilled Calamari, $12. 1181 Melville St., 604-639-8692.
Torontonians may be familiar with the modern Japanese restaurant that has just opened two new locations, in Vancouver and Calgary. Vancouver’s is located in the Shangri-La Hotel and is an absolute hot spot, attracting the after-work crowd with its seafood-focused menu. The room is elegant and the kitchen is open, which makes sitting at the bar downright theatrical. Dishes are meant to be shared, so bring a few friends for sampling. Crunch down on: Lobster Tempura, $20 . 310-1121 Alberni St., 604-609-0600.
Image courtesy of Ensemble.