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Restaurants Vancouver

Taste Buds Take Flight at Freebird

By SHERI RADFORD

Mar. 2020

Freebird’s Taiwanese roast chicken is delicious

To say that Freebird specializes in Taiwanese roast chicken is an understatement. Their chicken is rubbed with salt, hung to dry, then slow-roasted to perfection. Ordering it is a no-brainer—the only challenging part is deciding whether to have it on rice, salad, roti flatbread or a croissant sandwich. You can even order a whole chicken to take with you. The man behind the magic is chef Angus An, also the mastermind who created Maenam and several other popular local eateries. Wherever he leads, our taste buds are happy to follow—even all the way to Taiwan.

LoLo Invites: Farina a Legna

By TIM PAWSEY

Jan. 2019

Calabrese pizza made with tomato sauce, soppressata, for di latte, niçoise olives and oregano, at Farina a Legna (Photo by KK Law)

Just across the harbour from downtown by SeaBus, Lower Lonsdale lures with myriad tastes. A short walk up from the terminal, Farina a Legna is a neighbourhood hotspot. The simply furnished room, with its open kitchen and wood-fired oven, is relaxing and friendly. Hand-tossed pizza rules (try the calabrese or boscaiola), but don’t miss authentic tastes such as radicchio salad with pine nuts and anchovy dressing; burrata caprese with roasted squash, basil and pistachio pesto; or handmade ravioli with a ricotta-and-mortadella filling. Save room for the ethereal tiramisu or irresistible flourless chocolate cake with olive oil and hazelnut cream. Also close by are Tap & Barrel, a local BC-beer-and-wine emporium, and long-running Greek favourite Anatoli Souvlaki, among many.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Savoir Flair at Au Comptoir

By TIM PAWSEY

Dec. 2019

Taste fresh French flavours such as the Vercingetorix salad, featuring a soft poached egg and white anchovies (Photo by KK Law)

For serious French bites, head to Au Comptoir, an unabashed salute to the classic Parisian bistro in the heart of Kitsilano. Go early for breakfast, lunch or dinner, because the popular spot doesn’t take reservations. Regulars pack into the cozy banquettes for de rigueur tastes such as croque madame, duck confit, grilled bavette steak and poisson du jour. Flavours are pure, ingredients locally sourced and service prompt but friendly. For a taste of the sunny south, drop by Yaletown’s Provence Marinaside, also open all day, for West Coast–style bouillabaisse, crab-and-shrimp cakes or half chicken provençale. Or, nibble on small plates and sip a glass of rosé at adjacent TWB—The Wine Bar. On the East Side, Les Faux Bourgeois yields a wealth of Gallic favourites, from escargots and onion soup to tarte flambée and hanger steak frites, all in a cozy but busy bistro setting.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Afternoon Delight at Neverland Tea Salon

By TIM PAWSEY

Dec. 2019

Enjoy seasonal high tea towers filled with sweet and savoury bites at Neverland Tea Salon (Photo by KK Law)

Tea-lovers revel in a wealth of choice as the city enjoys an afternoon-tea revival. True to its name, whimsical Neverland on the West Side takes tea to the next level. The china settings are gorgeous and the plates deliciously decadent, offering an array of sandwiches, sweets and savouries. Favourites roam from riffs on the traditional, such as a citrus scone with Devonshire cream and house-made jam, to a lemon-herb mascarpone sandwich with cucumber and arugula. All high-tea menus can be made with gluten and dairy omitted, and vegetarian and vegan versions are available. Find more indulgences at Notch8 in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, at long-running tucked-away Secret Garden in Kerrisdale, and at Robson Street’s Ladurée, an elegant nod to the French salon de thé highlighted by in-house pastries and extraordinary macarons.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Terrific Tapas at Como Taperia

By TIM PAWSEY

Nov. 2019

(Clockwise from L): Tinned razor clams, Spanish tomato toast and fried, spicy eggplant at Como Taperia (Photo by KK Law)

A few minutes’ cab ride from downtown leads to some of the city’s top Spanish tastes. The buzz right now is for Como Taperia, an upbeat Main Street nod to Barcelona and Madrid, which is leading the charge in authenticity. Go for the abundance of specialty charcuterie and cheeses, charred octopus with white beans, morcilla (blood sausage) and squid ink hamburguesa, Iberico chorizo, or clams with tomato and saffron. The list of sherries is equally impressive, as are the cocktails, cavas (sparkling wines) and Spanish vermouths on tap. Other worthy Iberian haunts include heritage-housed Bodega on Main, Gastown’s well-named The Sardine Can, English Bay stalwart España, and contemporary Cabrito on Commercial Drive.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Beyond Pub Fare at Mahony

By TIM PAWSEY

Nov. 2019

The revamped menu at Mahony blends traditional Irish vibes with international flavours (Photo by KK Law)

Waterside Mahony teamed up with Vikram Vij, of Top Chef Canada and Dragons’ Den fame, to refresh their menus. The local celebrity chef’s newly introduced dishes were inspired by South Asian street food, lending a more cosmopolitan air to the classic pubs. Try the bunny chow–style lentil soup served in a bread bowl, four types of pizza on handmade naan bread, or the gluten-free paneer pakora made from chickpea flour and served with mint-and-onion chutney. Also on offer: potato leek soup, an Ocean Wise steelhead salmon burger, fish ’n’ chips and plenty more from a wide-ranging selection. The welcome is warm and the mood always lively. And Mahony still very much celebrates its Irish roots, with well-poured pints of Guinness.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Spirited Stories

Fancy a fright? Vancouver’s tour guides have plenty of spooky tales to tell. Here are a few local ghost stories to haunt your holidays. 

By CHLOË LAI

Oct. 2019

Have dinner with ghostly guests at The Old Spaghetti Factory (Photo © Jerry Coli/dreamstime.com)

Heeere’s Jennie! 

If you’re checking into the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and there’s a strange woman in a red gown in your room, you haven’t been double-booked. According to local legend, you’ve just met the ghost of Jennie Pearl Cox—aka the Lady in Red—a regular at the hotel’s ballroom dances until she was killed in a car accident in 1944. Guests report seeing her pass through elevator doors, particularly on the 14th floor. When an episode of The X-Files was filmed at the hotel, she hovered outside the window, frightening a cameraman so badly that he fled the set and refused to return. 

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Pampered Pubbing at Ballyhoo Public House

By TIM PAWSEY

Oct. 2019

Enjoy local craft beers, cocktails, high tea sandwiches and more at Ballyhoo Public House (Photo by KK Law)

Handy to cinemas and nightlife, downtown’s newly launched Ballyhoo Public House is a welcoming spot to enjoy local craft beers and smartly conceived cocktails. Drop by for high tea of devilled egg or avocado cream cheese sandwiches. Then hang at the bar with a refreshing Aperol Spritz or Bally gin and tonic. Traditional pub grub takes a back seat on this more contemporary menu, with the likes of crispy cauliflower, shishito peppers, an arugula and roasted chicken salad bowl, and a quartet of creative pizzas.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

East Meets West at Blossom Dim Sum & Grill

By TIM PAWSEY

Oct. 2019

At Blossom, every dim sum dish is made fresh daily, with zero MSG (Photo by KK Law)

An airy upstairs destination at Bute and Robson, Blossom Dim Sum & Grill takes fusion to the next level. Truly a merging of culinary cultures, the menu blends Asian inspiration with the freshest of West Coast ingredients. Tantalizing tastes include albacore tuna tataki with local black garlic and ponzu dressing; sweet ’n’ sour Sakura pork; bison rib eye; and seared sablefish with rice cake, baby bok choy and mushroom ponzu. A must for visitors, dim sum yields pork belly buns, tofu prawn tarts, mushroom dumplings with black truffle aioli, and more.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Granville Island Bites: Popina Canteen

By TIM PAWSEY

Sep. 2019

Chow down on the East Coast lobster roll (top) or dig into fish ‘n’ chips (bottom) at Popina (Photo by KK Law)

Four top chefs are behind view-kissed Popina Canteen, an outdoor eatery on the wharf beside the Granville Island Public Market. Stalwarts Angus An, Hamid Salimian, Joël Watanabe and Robert Belcham blend their distinctive styles in a collaboration that features everything from East Coast lobster rolls and grass-fed-beef cheeseburgers to steamed Dungeness crab and a cornucopian seafood tray. Go early to try their popular puffcreams: soft-serve ice cream in a freshly baked creampuff. (We recommend Turkish Delight.) Or drop by for an “adult” pink lemonade or a Bourbon Smash. Most scenic way to get there? Hop aboard False Creek Ferries from the Aquatic Centre, Science World or the east foot of Davie Street.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Vancouver’s Hottest Brunch Spots

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Aug. 2019

Delicious waffles at Café Medina (Photo: Amy Ho)

Forget most important meal of the day—in Vancouver, brunch is the most important meal of the weekend. For proof, just look to the queues (rain or shine) outside the city’s hottest brunch spots. It’s worth the wait at Café Medina, famed for heavenly Liège waffles topped with milk-chocolate lavender sauce and Mediterannean-inspired brunch dishes like tagine. Perfectly poached eggs are on the menu at Yolks . Build your own eggs Benny or add them to French toast—and don’t miss the truffle-lemon hash browns. At Forage, rise and shine to capital-L local and capital-D delicious fare like corned-bison hash or duck-and-kale-topped frittata. There are no sleepy brunch staples at Jam Cafe , where red velvet pancakes are drizzled with cream cheese, and French toast is topped with fried chicken and pickled cabbage. Dishes like croque monsieur and ratatouille with eggs add French finesse to friendly Twisted Fork Bistro . Homestyle-themed Honey Salt brings a farm-to-table approach to everything from potato latkes to chicken and waffles. Try the Monkey Bread with honey bourbon sauce (and thank us later).

A Taste of Greece at Hydra Estiatorio

By TIM PAWSEY
Aug. 2019

Forno flatbread, grilled octopus and tomato salad, at Hydra (Photo: KK Law)

Wander into the luxurious EXchange Hotel to discover newly unveiled Hydra Estiatorio, under a soaring atrium with sunny decor that transports you to the Greek islands. Check in at the long bar for mezzes and creative cocktails. Or linger over specialties that include forno-roasted leg of lamb, pan-roasted salmon and catch of the day either grilled or baked. Globally sourced vintages include a rare and respectable nod to the home country, including Moschofilero, Assyrtiko and Xinomavro. The cafe downstairs serves light bites and espressos until mid-afternoon, when the wine bar takes over for botanical cocktails, canapés and vino by the glass.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.