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Tim Pawsey

Vancouver’s Cocktail Culture

By TIM PAWSEY

Mar. 2020

Bar manager Adam Domet crafts a Gastown Gimlet, at Pourhouse (Photo by KK Law)

The city’s tight-knit bartender community is a hotbed of creativity. At Pourhouse in Gastown, Adam Domet salutes the Prohibition era with his versions of the tipples that lured Americans from their home shores to imbibe legally. The long bar is the perfect place to indulge in a Manifesto or a White Old Fashioned, or to sample flights of whisky, bourbon, mezcal and more. In Chinatown, pull up a stool at The Keefer Bar—ranked number two in Canada’s 50 Best Bars 2019—and soak up the speakeasy feel. The apothecary-inspired list draws on Asian ingredients, wrangled by bar manager and all-around guru Amber Bruce. Her Boss Lady (tequila, Aperol, allspice bitters and mandarin shrub) will likely have you ordering another. Or, at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, cozy up to the bar inside Botanist for head bartender Jeff Savage’s celebrated Smoke on the Water. This heady concoction of rum, mezcal, charred lemon, birch sap and coconut oil is dramatically unveiled in cedar smoke.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

A Sampling of Vancouver’s Tapas Scene

By TIM PAWSEY
Feb. 2019

Spanish-style dishes at Bodega include (L-R) marinated and grilled lamb chops, spicy chorizo sausage and saffron-infused paella (Photo by KK Law)

A coterie of Spanish rooms yields a wealth of small plates. Drop by Bodega on Main for mainstays like grilled octopus, spicy chorizo, patatas bravas (zesty potatoes) and gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), all served in heritage surroundings. On Commercial Drive, Cabrito melds classics with gluten- and dairy-free options, plus smartly picked wines and sherries. In Gastown, The Sardine Can is a compact spot that lives up to its name, and it tempts with smoked-ham-wrapped prunes, meatballs in tomato-and-red-wine sauce, and lots of tostas (toasts)—including, of course, sardines on toast.

BC Bites at West Restaurant + Bar

By TIM PAWSEY
Jul. 2018

Perfect plates at West include roasted Haida Gwaii halibut with local corn (Photo by KK Law)

One of the original flagship regional rooms, South Granville’s West Restaurant + Bar revels in seasonal, local ingredients, detail-driven presentation and impeccable service. Popular plates roam from soy-and-sake-glazed Haida Gwaii sablefish, to a lamb duo with roasted sunchokes and madeira jus, to ricotta tortellini with braised artichokes, roasted fennel, kalamata olives and tomato fondue. Wines both local and global are expertly paired and served from an impressive “wall of wine,” while original cocktails keep pace with the creativity on the menu.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Beyond Pho: Vietnamese Cuisine at Chi Modern

By TIM PAWSEY
July 2018

Chi Modern serves specialties such as bo luc lac, or shaking beef

Grab a quick cab to Kitsilano to savour Vietnamese cuisine with a difference at Chi Modern. Airy and bright, the room reflects the personality of its owner, former MasterChef Vietnam competitor Chi Le. She celebrates her homeland with kicked-up variations on family recipes that inform a clean, sophisticated style. Go for the char-grilled eggplant, coconut-milk-braised pork belly, tamarind-caramelized prawns, or five-spice curried duck. Better still, book a day ahead for the no-holds-barred prix fixe menu.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

West End Hidden Gems: From Leafy Patios to Retro Bars

By TIM PAWSEY
Jul. 2018

Game hen with shallots, pomme fondant and Brussels sprouts, at Adesso Bistro (Photo by KK Law)

A block off bustling Denman, Adesso Bistro yields inventive European flavours with contemporary flair. Housed in the ground floor of a heritage hotel, the tranquil setting includes one of the city’s leafiest and most secluded patios. On the plate, chef Pekka Tavela’s artfully presented fare includes fresh tuna crudo, deeply flavoured pork-and-fennel rigatoni, squash-and-ricotta agnolotti, and game hen with shallots and Brussels sprouts. Classic cocktails and smart wine picks complete the picture. Looking for more neighbourhood haunts? Check out compact and friendly Amici Miei for authentic cuisine from Italy’s Abruzzo region. For good Greek eats, head to Davie Street’s Takis’ Taverna to savour souvlaki, kleftiko and saganaki. Or, at Davie Street and Denman, climb the stairs to discover retro Bayside Lounge, with its circular bar, classic cocktails and casual bites.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Quintessential Québécois Flavours at St. Lawrence

By TIM PAWSEY
Jun. 2018

Chef J-C Poirier’s Québécois-inspired dishes include steak tartare with chèvre noire and potato chips (Photo by KK Law)

Chef J-C Poirier boasts no shortage of “haute” haunts on his résumé. But at St. Lawrence, his cozy spot on the East Side, he blends French and Québécois classics with more rustic but polished flavours. Impeccably served with well-chosen wines, mains run the gamut: rabbit leg cordon bleu, duck in pastry with sauce à l’orange, hanger steak with bone marrow and escargots, lingcod en papillote. Be sure to leave room for sugar pie or tarte au citron flambéed with Pastis Ricard. Reserve early and hop a cab to this popular room, crowned Restaurant of the Year at Vancouver magazine’s recent dining awards.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Dining Destinations South of Main Street

By TIM PAWSEY
Jun. 2018

Verduras causa with chili-dusted yam chips, at Chicha (Photo by KK Law)

The Mount Pleasant neighbourhood sometimes called South of Main (SOMA) is home to myriad flavours. At Peruvian-inspired Chicha, chef Shelome Bouvette delights with chulpe de mariscos (a riff on bouillabaisse), empanadas stuffed with butternut squash or smoked chicken with chilli, and lomo saltado (beef steak). Pisco sours and other cocktails are de rigueur. Nearby, The Cascade Room proffers cut-above pub fare—think Southern-style ribs, roasted Arctic char, pot pies and burgers, with local Main Street pints. Looking for sustainable fare and lots of vegetarian options? Head to organically driven Burdock & Co., where past favourites include charred savoy cabbage, braised leeks with aged pecorino, or lamb ribs. Sea-foodies favour The Fish Counter for superior Ocean Wise fish ’n’ chips and po’boys, while locals seek out the changing plates at Dock Lunch, a diminutive 22-seater tucked away in a charming Victorian-era home.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Vocal Locavore: Andrea Carlson of Burdock & Co.

By TIM PAWSEY
May 2018

Andrea Carlson, chef and owner of Burdock & Co. (Photo by KK Law)

Burdock & Co. is a bastion of organic dining and locally sourced ingredients. For owner/chef Andrea Carlson, it’s a way of life, a journey she embarked on early in her career. (more…)

2018 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

At Five Sails, enjoy pan-seared bass piccata, vegetables and golden fingerling potatoes in a lemon-and-caper butter sauce—and, of course, the incredible view of Coal Harbour

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

Critics’ Choice

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 (more…)

Gotham Steakhouse: A Cut Above

By TIM PAWSEY
Apr. 2018

Photo of Gotham Steakhouse by KK Law

Power lunches are the norm at plush and polished Gotham, where it’s hard not to linger over the likes of beef forestiere medallions, chicken paillard, a cornucopian lobster Cobb salad, and tuna poke. Service is prompt, personal—and speedy, if needed—while the dinner menu features the ultimate in 60-day dry-aged Canada prime cuts, grilled to perfection. Wicked cocktails are a bonus.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit www.hiredbelly.com 

Hooked on Oddfish

By TIM PAWSEY
Feb. 2018

Hamachi crudo at Oddfish (Photo by KK Law)

Just across Burrard Bridge, lively Oddfish lures with a variety of simple but well-prepared fresh and finny fare. Starters range from lime- and jalapeño-teased hamachi to ahi tuna poke or side stripe shrimp ceviche. Mains yield a wealth of seasonally changing tastes such as ling cod with caponata, seared seabass topped with chermoula, or bowls of nicely spiced mussels or clams, all paired with smartly chosen, eclectic wines. Don’t miss the Hot Mess: a cornucopian romp of a platter piled high with fish and shellfish, topped with a robust salsa verde.

For Peat’s Sake: Visit Vancouver’s Hidden Whisky House

By TIM PAWSEY
Feb. 2018

Sam Heather with a flight of whisky, at Shebeen. (Photo by KK Law)

Venture into the back of Gastown’s The Irish Heather to find Shebeen Whisk(e)y House. The well-concealed snug is one of the coziest salutes to whisky anywhere, a fact not missed by the Irish Pubs Global Awards 2017, who named it the Best Irish Whiskey Experience in North America. Owner Sean Heather offers an array of whiskies from all over. His favourite? Redbreast from Dublin’s Midleton. “It’s a pure pot still, which is the Irish equivalent to a single malt,” says the amiable publican.