5 Restaurants for Celebrating a Milestone in Vancouver

Photo: Five Sails

Whether it’s to celebrate a special anniversary, birthday, or a big personal/career achivement, Vancouver has a diverse selection of restaurants that offer impeccable cuisine, a beautiful setting, and attentive service. You can be sure that an evening out will be a memorable one as you mark an important time in your life.

Here are five restaurants ideal for supping and toasting to a milestone in style.

Five Sails

Photo: Five Sails

Tucked away on the “R” level of the Canada Place Convention Centre, you’ll find the Five Sails. You’ll enter a serenely modern space with some of the most gorgeous views in the city. Through floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the restaurant, you’ll be able to marvel at Vancouver’s North Shore mountains, Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, and Lion’s Gate Bridge. The city’s iconic white sails will be in full sight, as well as any cruise ships docked at the harbour. The cuisine speaks to the restaurant’s surroundings: west coast offerings that showcase fresh local ingredients and premium seafood and meat.

Start with a half dozen freshly shucked Vancouver Island oysters with espelette cocktail sauce and mignonette. If you feel like splurging for your special occasion, there are three kinds of kaviari caviar with traditional accompaniments to choose from. Main selections include a lobster tail with Pacific prawn beignets, pernod fennel crème, garlic oil potato fondant, and saffron bisque foam, or A5 wagyu with braised beef short rib ragout, pomme purée, autumn vegetables, and merlot jus. For your big moment, make sure to order a dessert, such as the Grand Marnier soufflé with brown butter ice cream and orange infused crème anglaise. The Five Sails has a lovely private dining room for up to 20 guests if you’d like to make your celebration an intimate party.

Carlino

Photo: Mark Yammine

Take the stairs or the elevator to the terrace level of Vancouver’s Shangri-La Hotel. Carlino is truly one of the most gorgeous rooms in the city, managing to be both lavish and cozy. You’ll find plush banquettes, greenery accents, and jaunty black and white checkered flooring. For a special occasion, make sure to reserve the round table tucked behind the foyer/host area; it will feel like you’re at your own private dinner party.

The food is equally as seductive: simple, yet beautifully executed Northern Italian-inspired cuisine that is rooted in locality and seasonality. The dishes are meant to be shared (especially if you’re at that round table) over lively conversation with people you love, there to celebrate a key moment for you. If you want to put yourself in the capable hands of the chef, opt for the family-style fait tu (you pick) experience. Otherwise, you really can’t go wrong with anything you select. The frico, traditional Friulian fried cheese, served with soft potatoes and slow cooked onions, is a decadent but necessary start. Pasta is fresh and made in-house so always a treat, such as the veal ossobuco-stuffed francobolli with gremolata, and bigoli al Nero (squid ink) with lobster, bottarga, lemon, and chili. Impressive mains for sharing include the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a 45 oz Angus bone-in porterhouse served with an arugula and parmesan salad and salsa verde; and a salt baked branzino with green beans and ajvar.

Mott 32

Black cod dumpling; Photo: Amy Ho

Vancouver has some of the most amazing Chinese cuisine in the city due to the vibrancy and talent of its Chinese culinary community. Mott 32, which hails from Hong Kong, is a dramatically elegant space with black design accents, showstopping lighting, and an array of luxurious seating. What elevates Mott 32 is the level of service you’ll experience, the attentive quality and aesthetics of the food, and its extensive, expertly assembled drink program. The menu, which is primarily Cantonese, draws inspiration also from Szechuan and Beijing cuisine. Dishes reflect tradition, while also evidencing modern innovation and an attention to sustainable sourcing and locality. An absolute must for any milestone occasion is their applewood roasted Peking duck, carved tableside with the utmost care and craft. The crispy skin is first served with brown palm sugar for the ultimate sweet/savoury combination before the breast meat is carved for enjoying with pancakes, hoisin, peanut and sesame sauce, and sliced cucumber and scallions.

Other must-orders include the barbecue Iberico pork with yellow mountain honey, their signature smoked black cod (the reveal of the dish itself is worth capturing), the wok fried whole Dungeness crab with gold garlic, glutinous rice, and preserved sausage, and the A5+ wagyu with asparagus, homemade black bean paste, and garlic chips. Their refined dim sum is also delectable, such as the lobster har gow and the hot and sour Iberico pork XLB.

L’Abattoir

Photo: Eric Milic Photography

The cobbled streets of Gastown are the setting for one of Vancouver’s premier restaurants. Since its opening in 2010, L’Abattoir has been one of the city’s leading culinary lights due to chef/owner Lee Cooper’s deft melding of French technique with West Coast ingredients and style. This charming industrial chic space features a gorgeous bar, brick-lined walls, and two-levels of seating options. Without a doubt, the best seating for a memorable—and beautiful—evening is located in their atrium, overlooking the famous Gaoler’s Mews. The white-hued space features intertwined branches suspended above diners, making it one of the most unique dining locations in the city. The chef’s menu would be lovely for a special occasion, taking you on a chef-curated journey through dishes such as scallop with pumpkin, chestnut, and black trumpet mushrooms; Hamachi with Matsutake, rice, and egg; and warm butter cake with apple, rum, and cinnamon.

The à la carte menu features similar menu items, such as smoked steelhead trout with gribiche, horseradish, and country loaf; pork collar with pork belly, cabbage, and salsa verde; and mille feuille with salted honey, buckwheat, and bourbon. The wine and cocktail program is also outstanding, featuring seasonal creations like Liquid Light with barrel aged Suze, Cocchi Rosa, and clarified watermelon.

Hawksworth

Mountain Creek Ranch elk chop; Photo: Hawksworth

For over a decade, Hawksworth Restaurant has been one of the culinary luminaries in the city due to the talent of Chef David Hawksworth, the calibre of their drink program, and the attentiveness of the service. Located in the wonderfully restored Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Hawksworth is a jewel of a room, from its glittery central chandelier to the sleek elegance of its seating. The restaurant showcases the best of the Pacific Northwest, flexing French technique while also drawing from flavours and ingredient combinations from around the world. The menu shifts according to seasonal availability, particularly of local ingredients. The five-course tasting menu allows the kitchen to create an unfolding narrative of what they do best, with dishes like French onion soup with bone marrow, truffle, Emmental, and sourdough croutons; duck mousse with cabbage, foie gras, mushrooms, celeriac, and duck jus; and sunchoke and maple ice cream with preserved summer cherry and hazelnuts.

The à la carte menu similarly showcases the restaurant’s relationship with the best of local suppliers in dishes such as Local Harvest Farm acorn and hubbard squash with seed cracker, Klippers Organic Acres’ apple, and kombu dressing; Haida Gwaii sablefish with kohlrabi, pine mushrooms, bok choy, and dashi; and Mountain Creek Ranch elk chop with kale, red cabbage, parsnips, and red wine jus. Add a lobster tail or scallops to elevate your special occasion even more.

For further ideas on where to go for a special occasion in Vancouver, make sure to consult the city’s Michelin Guide for starred restaurants and recommendations.

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