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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.

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.

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.

West Coast Cuisine at West Restaurant

By TIM PAWSEY

Oct. 2019

At West, Bobby Milheron serves seasonal delights such as (clockwise from L) roasted ling cod, smoked carrots and braised kale; and beetroot salad (Photo by Leila Kwok)

For the ultimate in West Coast cuisine, head to South Granville’s West Restaurant. Executive chef Bobby Milheron presents farm-to-table ingredients with precisely honed flair and creativity, all in an elegant and modern wood-trimmed setting. Dishes evolve with the seasons, but hallmarks include Yarrow Meadows duck breast with kohlrabi, apricots and almonds; soy-sake-glazed Haida Gwaii sablefish; and Maple Hill chicken with grilled leeks, porcini puree and roasted maitake mushrooms. Service is seamless and wine pairings impeccable. The irresistible desserts include a Guanaja chocolate soufflé with poured vanilla crème anglaise. Not to be missed: the current prix fixe menu and the all-encompassing chef’s tasting menu.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

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.

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.

Alto Alfresco: Perfect Outdoor Dining

By TIM PAWSEY
Jul. 2019

Lift’s picture-perfect patio (Photo: KK Law)

Looking for that perfect table outdoors? Some of the best are out of sight, even upstairs. On the Coal Harbour seawall, Lift Bar-Grill-View dazzles with panoramic views and all creature comforts. Drop by for lunch of fish ‘n‘ chips or red crab salad sandwich. Linger over dinner of prawns tempura, smoked duck breast or ahi tuna with deep-fried avocado and apple chutney. Well-matched wines play a strong BC suit. Find more uplifting tastes at Joe Fortes , Black + Blue and the Earls on Robson Street. Or, for the ultimate in “elevated” dining, head to Altitudes Bistro atop Grouse Mountain.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

Vancouver’s Plant-Based Eateries

By TIM PAWSEY
Jul. 2019

(Clockwise from L) Medi Benny with enoki mushrooms, savoury Mezze Tasting plates and the Silk Road, at Aleph Eatery (Photo: KK Law)

Home of the 100-mile diet, Vancouver has always been a culinary trendsetter. No surprise that plant-based fare is on a roll. East Side Aleph Eatery’s  Middle Eastern inspirations sport the freshest of regional ingredients, perked up with traditional spices. Standouts include the Silk Road, an appetizer plate of hummus, baba ganouj, labneh, zaatar and honey; crispy potatoes with tahini, roasted peppers and thyme; turmeric cauliflower; cashew coconut curry; and plenty more. The room is airy, relaxed—and truly welcoming. For more formal West Coast fare, head to Main Street’s acclaimed The Acorn. Longest-running vegetarian haunt? Legendary The Naam —since flower-powered 1968.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.