VANCOUVER: The Best of the West
Forget just booking a room.
Hungry for dining out in Vancouver, Kasey Wilson discovers that hotels are not just a pretty place to sleep anymore
Yew Seafood + Bar
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, 791 West Georgia St, (604) 689-9333 When you’re a farm-to-table chef in Vancouver, it doesn’t hurt that you also grew up in the Okanagan and know your local ingredients like the back of your knife-wielding hand. Executive Chef Ned Bell helms a seafood-focused kitchen with an eye to sustainability and seasonal availability while pampering guests in this chic, contemporary restaurant. Beautiful wood motifs and Pacific Rim design sense dominate the room, lending a casual but elegant feel—a sensibility that’s mirrored in the food plates and the inventive cocktail list. Bell’s interpretation of New England clam chowder with smoked black cod is creamy and comforting. The Yew Signature Snack Boxes are whimsical and delicious— from Dungeness crab meatballs to lobster tacos with red miso, honey and radish. On the larger-plate spectrum you’ll find Haida Gwaii halibut, golden rainbow trout and sides like golden Kennebec fries and garlic kale with parmesan and cauliflower. This is perhaps the only restaurant in the city to have a cocktail list inspired by the world’s five oceans and designed to complement the seafoodcentric menu listings. With names like Glacial Snout, Skookum-chuk or Icy Pancakes, it’s a voyage of discovery.
Rosewood Hotel Georgia, 801 West Georgia St, (604) 673-7000 Vancouver is known as a casual town, but sometimes you want to break out your best duds and indulge in an ultimate fine-dining experience. The city’s destination for that level of dining can only be Hawksworth. The European-trained technical prowess of David Hawksworth is the driving force behind food that delivers bold contemporary statements and also shows him to be not just a talented chef but a true visionary. Here, pan-roasted Pacific halibut comes spiked with a smoky lobster chorizo broth, a meaty duck breast is glazed with tamari, and a vegetable dessert features a creamy-tangy lime yogurt, with sugar peas on the plate and incorporated in a bright green spun sugar ribbon. Paired with an award-winning wine program offering diverse selections for every taste, and a cocktail list that runs the gamut from Prohibition to post-modern concoctions, it’s art on the plate and in the glass. (It’s on the walls, too, which feature pieces by Rodney Graham, Harland Miller and Damien Hirst.) The room and bar somehow manage to strike that perfect balance of classic trappings reconfigured for modern dining. “Stately but forwardthinking” best captures the mood, both in the restaurant and on the plate.
Notch8 Restaurant & Bar
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia St, (604) 662-1900 The enigmatic name here celebrates the Fairmont’s history as one of Canada’s preeminent railway hotels. Notch8 was the term denoting a locomotive running on full power, and this new restaurant is certainly pushing the throttle. Executive Chef Cameron Ballendine has a couple of notches in his own culinary belt, having cooked in far-flung destinations from China to Egypt to France. His approach is to recreate the familiar, the comfortable and the timeless—all while applying a refining touch to a well-traveled menu that includes standards such as Oysters Rockefeller and prime rib. The signature cocktails are also transported from another time, and the beautifully revamped room with its quasi-play on train design is like a ride on the Orient Express (or perhaps The Canadian) in your mind and on your palate. And the Hotel Van continues to serve afternoon tea that harkens back to another era.
David Hawksworth, Hawksworth Restaurant
Yew Seafood + Bar