Our annual Where to Dine Awards pay tribute to the hardworking folks who make Vancouver such a food-lover’s paradise
By TIM PAWSEY, SHERI RADFORD & JILL VON SPRECKEN
Photos by KK LAW
LES CLEFS D’OR CANADA SILVER SERVICE
Five Sails Restaurant
Vancouver’s abundant dining options can overwhelm a hungry traveller, but Les Clefs d’Or always know the newest hotspots, the tried-and-true stalwarts and the hidden gems. These dedicated concierges won’t steer you wrong, and this year their top pick is Five Sails. Perched right on the waterfront, this perennial favourite expertly combines stellar West Coast cuisine with warm service and stunning views of the mountains, inner harbour and Stanley Park. Linger over poached lobster, roasted sablefish or smoked duck breast while watching floatplanes land and cruise ships depart. And make sure to peruse the wine list, which showcases selections from BC’s Okanagan region.—SR
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
It’s fitting that Botanist arrived in spring. The verdant oasis unfurled at the top of the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s central staircase, complete with a rose-hued dining room, lush outdoor terrace, Champagne lounge and cocktail lab—equipped with a centrifuge, band saw and roto-vaporizer, no less. This earthly garden delights with the best of the Pacific Northwest, and local producers and sustainable seafood are at the fore. Recent offerings include salt-roasted beet salad with burrata, toasted macadamia and kale, or sablefish accompanied by onion nage, fermented vegetables and puffed tapioca. From the terroir-driven wines to the draped greenery, nothing here is garden variety.—JVS
Mak N Ming
Mak N Ming is a refined counterpoint to laid-back, beachy Kitsilano. Here, playful-yet-polished French-Japanese fusion dishes make a lasting impression. A six-course chef’s degustation and three-course demi menu highlight bold flavours like baked egg with truffled motoyaki or crab-and-prawn noodle soup. And to cap it all off: divine desserts.—JVS
Just a stone’s throw from the ocean, Oddfish is where unfussy seafood shines. This fresh catch has a daily changing chalkboard menu lovingly scrawled with what’s in season, from side stripe shrimp ceviche to whole sea bass with chermoula. Don’t miss the Seafood Hot Mess: a delicious heap of crustaceans, fish, molluscs and more.—JVS
Fanny Bay Oyster Bar
This lively “tide-to-table” eatery near BC Place blends a diner—think fresh-shucked oysters and seafood entrées—with a retail shop offering tempting take-home treats ranging from oysters and crab cakes to salmon candy and chowder. Since joining Ocean Wise in 2016, the restaurant has worked to create a menu that’s 100 percent sustainable. Farmed shellfish are among the most sustainable seafood, and all staff regularly receive Ocean Wise training so that they can educate consumers about ocean-friendly choices.—TP
The Sustainable Seafood Award is presented to the restaurant that best exemplifies practices of sourcing, serving and promoting sustainable species, as outlined under the Ocean Wise Program. The conferring committee represents the BC Seafood Alliance, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and Where Vancouver.
The Salmon House on the Hill
It’s just a 15-minute drive from downtown across the Lions Gate Bridge and beyond to one of the city’s longest-running restaurants. This glass-and-wood-wrapped landmark high above West Vancouver dates from 1976, an era when good food combined with view dining was a rarity. However, from the outset, The Salmon House perfected its interpretation of First Nations alder-grilled salmon, explored West Coast cuisine on a broad scale, and early on embraced BC wines fully. Seafood creations are inventive and varied, with helpful recommendations as well as seasonal tasting menus that change monthly. All are served against a breathtaking panorama amidst strikingly beautiful Indigenous art.—TP
LES DAMES D’ESCOFFIER TRAILBLAZER
Co-Owner & Director of Product Innovation & Quality Assurance
Les Dames d’Escoffier is an organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education, scholarship and philanthropy. Here’s why Les Dames recommended Mary Mackay of Terra Breads for this award: “Co-founding Terra Breads in 1993, Mary introduced Vancouver to the open-production bakery (with glass walls instead of brick or concrete) and reaffirmed our love for artisan baking. Not only successful in business, Mary partners to present Joy of Feeding (a fundraiser for UBC Farm), elevating the role of home cooks by featuring their recipes in the public arena. Terra Breads’ commitment to community support continues with ongoing contributions of personal excellence, offering ongoing training, a creative environment and opportunity. Hers is a true story of how to succeed by using your skills with grace and kindness.”
Executive Chef, Blue Water Cafe
The Leadership Award is conferred upon an individual who has made a discernible difference and significant contribution to the city’s dining scene over many years. This year, Where is pleased to recognize Frank Pabst, executive chef of Blue Water Cafe since 2003, based on numerous qualifications: for his tireless efforts in raising awareness surrounding sustainable cuisine; for his valued support and mentorship in training a new generation of star chefs; and, overall, for his role as a highly respected and longstanding member of the culinary community. Click here for an interview with Frank Pabst.—TP
Blue Water Cafe
Gotham Steakhouse & Bar
FINALISTS Chambar Restaurant; Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna.
Notch8 Restaurant & Bar
To see Whistler’s winners, please click here.
To vote for your favourite Vancouver and Whistler restaurants in our 2019 Where to Dine Awards, click here. You could win a spectacular Victoria Whale Watching Retreat for 2 from BC Ferries Vacations!