It’s Dine Out Vancouver time again. Now in its 12th year, the festival has become one of the city’s premiere culinary events, and for 2014 features over 260 participating restaurants. Besides prix fixe menus at many of the city’s top eateries, Dine Out is also featuring dozens of special food-related events.
To help build excitement for the festival (Jan. 17-Feb. 2), Tourism Vancouver corraled a number of journalists, photographers and bloggers into sampling food and drink from some of this year’s 200+ participants. (Restaurants began taking reservations yesterday, Jan. 7, so if you have been thinking of going, hurry!)
On the evening in question, the assorted media types, including yours truly, gathered together at Tourism Vancouver HQ before dividing up into eight differently themed groups to be whisked away to various destinations. My group’s theme was Dine Out With Friends, and our destinations were… well, read on.
First stop: Tap & Barrel (1 Athletes Way, Olympic Village). Known for its patio, local craft beer and barrel wine selection, and unpretentious cuisine, the Tap & Barrel plays to its strengths with its Dine Out menu. Featuring pairings with exclusive libations as a raspberry IPA from Tree Brewing in Kelowna and a Monster Vinyards Malbec, the Olympic Village location (the sister restaurant in Coal Harbour is also participating) offers an ale-and-cheese soup, mussels with in-house flatbread, an Okanagan goat cheese pizza, a meat-lovers’ deluxe bacon-wrapped meatloaf and fisherman’s spaghetti (with red snapper, steelhead trout and mussels) and, for dessert, their Mason Jar Smores (chocolate chunks, torched marshmallows and peanut butter mousse packed tight in a mason jar.)
Next stop: Secret Supper Soirée. True to its title, the location – actually, two locations – can’t be revealed. We can tell you that the event, which is different every year, routinely sells out (as of this writing, tickets remained for Jan 17, 24, 31 and Feb 1). Eventgoers meet at a specific destination (1100 Chestnut Street) where they board a double-decker bus and are taken to a first location for a drink and appetizer, and a second location for a sit-down dinner. What we can tell you is that this year’s has a nautical theme (the actual name of the event is the Under the Sea Secret Supper Soirée), that the greeting cocktail is an herbaceous concoction made with rosemary-infused rum, the wine is from B.C.’s Clos du soleil winery, and that the menu is seafood-heavy (vegetarian options are available by emailing organizer at email@example.com ahead of time). For more info go here.
And finally, Hawksworth (801 W. Georgia St.). Situated on the main floor of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Hawksworth has a reputation as having one of the city’s most creative menus. This was my first time and the food more than lived up to the hype. One might ask – as we certainly did – why a white table-cloth kind of a place was on the Dine Out With Friends expedition. It was explained to us that that’s because the restaurant’s Dine Out event, Side Dishes – The Best of Hawksworth, is being held in the hotel’s York Room, longtable-style. In other words, you get the cuisine that the restaurant is famous for but in a more social, communal atmosphere. There are five nights of Side Dishes, each with a different menu, so check out the various offerings here and find one you like. (Note: as of this writing, three of the dates were already sold-out.)