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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.

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…)