Swanky Blast from the Past: Roof Bar at Hotel Vancouver Reopens

Photo credit: vancityhotshots | Flickr

Photo credit: vancityhotshots | Flickr

Even after 75 years, it’s still one of the best views in Vancouver.

The Roof bar and restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which goes back to 1939 but has been closed since the 1980s, is officially open for business once again. Situated on the upper floors of the hotel, beneath the iconic green copper roof, the revamped venue opened its doors on Valentine’s Day.

Inside, visitors have a chance to step back into Vancouver’s swanky – and steamy – past. Originally dubbed the Panorama Roof, the bar and restaurant was once the hottest spot in town for getting down with big-band music and seriously boozy cocktails. Legendary Vancouver band leader Dal Richards got his start there back in 1940 and helmed the house band for the next 25 straight years.

The new Roof pays homage to those glory days, with a few twists.  The airy, light-filled space on the 15th floor of the hotel is divided into a lounge with banquettes and classy wingback chairs on one side and a seated dining room on the other. Windows offer panoramic views (sliced up here and there by newer high-rises) both north to the Coast Mountains and south across downtown to English Bay.

The menu is heavy on the classics – strong drinks and red meat. Classic cocktails include the Negroni (gin, vermouth, campari) and Grand Sazerac (made with Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac).

The dinner menu reads much like one at a venerable old steakhouse, starting with staples like oysters and French onion soup and progressing to a signature prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and a selection of certified Angus steaks served with retro sides like creamed spinach and cauliflower gratin.  In a nod to more contemporary West Coast fare, the restaurant also has fresh local seafood, including wild salmon and halibut.

And, of course, there’s live music.  Bands will grace the Roof’s stage from Thursday to Saturday evenings – whether they’ll be able to get dancers moving like Dal Richards and his 11-piece orchestra is anyone’s guess.

Have you been to the new Roof restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver? What did you think? Let us know below.

Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza for more updates on Vancouver … and beyond.  

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