William Shakespeare once said, “Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.”
Many Vancouver establishments take it upon themselves to do exactly as Mr. Shakespeare recommended. We are particularly good at feasting in Vancouver. The fall harvests of mushrooms, squash, beets, apples and other luscious, locavore items inspire Vancouver chefs to prepare seasonal menus or arrange long table dinners.
There’s something lovely and serendipitous about sharing some cheer and making a merry feast next to a stranger or strangers at a giant table. It’s like the magic of a large family meal, minus the dysfunction. Below you’ll find a list of seasonal feasts and family-style dining that’s sure to please your palate if not expand your social circle.
La Pentola della Quercia – “La Famiglia supper series is all about bringing together friends, families, neighbours for communal dining to enjoy a family style ‘feast’ featuring many of our amazing local suppliers,” explained Opus Hotel’s Shelley Lyons. On the last Sunday of each month La Pentola sells tickets to a themed 10 course dinner that hones in on a regional suite of flavours. Past La Famiglia themes include Wild Game, Flavours of Tuscany and Olive Oil. La Pentola chef Lucas Syme works with Vancouver-area, artisan foodies like Two Rivers Meats, Lockstock Farms and Domenica Fiore organic olive oil to concoct his sell out dinners. Check their website for the next La Famiglia in January.
Irish Heather – Earlier this month you likely read about the Irish Heather’s Long Table Dinner Series. To recap: each Sunday and Monday, the Irish Heather hosts about 40 patrons for a set meal. For around $17 you get a hearty dinner and a drink plus a chance to sit next to a table of awesome strangers.
Cin Cin – If you love mushrooms, this is your time to gorge on both BC and European fungi varieties. Markets are bursting with curly-edged chanterelles and stout, knobby pine (or matsutake) mushrooms. Until the end of this month, Cin Cin will celebrate a variety of flavourful fungi with its Festa del Fungo. Truffles, chantrelles, oyster, portabello, hedgehog and more are on offer. Chef Andrew Richardson creates gorgeous pasta dishes, working with Cin Cin’s in house wine expert Shane Taylor to recommend the perfect pairings from the Robson Street resto’s deep wine cellar. Book now because Festa del Fungo only runs until the end of November.
Edible Canada Bistro – Beets, squash, bison and elk figure prominently in Edible Canada Bistro’s special Fall Feasting menu. On now until November 30, the three-course meal gives you a choice of two salads, three appetizers and four entrees. If you’re looking for a wee bit of adventure for your taste buds try kicking up your dish up a bit with a little juniper jus on your Elk medallions or Allegretto sheep’s cheese on your Bison and Bacon meatballs.
Hart House Restaurant– If you’re traveling out-of-country this holiday season and will miss your turkey dinner then a visit to the Hart House in December is a must. Each year the Hart House hosts the Dickens Buffet on their second floor overlooking Deer Lake Park. A lunch affair, the Dickens Buffet is served between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. from December 2nd to 2oth. Turkey and all the fixings, a roast beef station, fresh seafood, charcuterie and cheese are all on the menu. While you may not sit at a long table you may sit at a table for a long while, thus opening your afternoon for meeting old friends or new.
Where do you like to feast on seasonal foods or dine at a long table with strangers? Share your favourite spots in the comments section below.