Inside the Restaurant of the Year: Hawksworth

Photo courtesy of Hawksworth Restaurant.

Since opening in 2011, Hawksworth Restaurant in the refurbished Hotel Georgia has generated plenty of buzz in Vancouver.  The upscale eatery cleaned up at the 2012 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, taking home honors for Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year, among others.  It seems to be the rare restaurant in Vancouver that everyone – from your mother-in-law to the food critic at the Sun – raves about.

But with all the build up, can it really be that good?

I checked out Hawksworth over the weekend, on a busy Friday night.  The first big surprise: the ambiance.  Continue reading:
Inside the Restaurant of the Year: Hawksworth

New Vancouver Restaurant Where You Eat in the Dark

This is what you’ll see when you dine at the newest addition to Vancouver’s  vibrant culinary scene.

A new restaurant is set to open where diners will experience their meals in a pitch-black setting, with no lights except the slightest glow from exit signs.  Called Dark Table, the 75-seat restaurant is set to open on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano on Sept. 20, in the space formerly occupied by Quattro, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun.

There’s another twist, as well.  One-third of the staff will be legally blind.  Blind servers will escort guests to and from their tables, bring out food and wine and help with menu suggestions.

The restaurant is the third dining-in-the-dark venue for the owner, Moe Alameddine.  He opened his first in Montreal in 2006 and added another in Toronto in 2009.

The formula has proven surprisingly appealing to diners seeking new culinary thrills.  Continue reading:
New Vancouver Restaurant Where You Eat in the Dark

Vancouver’s Best Yakiniku Japanese BBQ Restaurant? You make the call

Photo credit: Rickchung.com | Flickr

Vancouver is justly famous for its sushi, with hundreds (if not thousands) of restaurants around the city.  We’ve also got plenty of izakayas, the Japanese-style pubs that became popular in the late 1990s.  And we’re no slouch when it comes to ramen restaurants, which serve exclusively the popular Japanese noodle soup.

But I was surprised to discover another Japanese import in the city last week: a yakiniku barbecue. In yakiniku-style restaurants, diners cook up raw, bite-sized chunks of marinated meats and veggies over a grill built right into their tables.  It’s an interactive, hands-on form of dining, quite similar in many respects to Korean barbecue (a controversy rages to this day about whether the practice originated in Korea or Japan).

Considering how fun the experience is (and how tasty the results are), I was surprised I hadn’t tried a yakiniku restaurant in Vancouver before.  I know there must be a bunch out there, but they don’t get much attention.

Do you enjoy Japanese yakiniku barbecue?  Do you have a favourite yakiniku restaurant in Vancouver?  Let us know below.

I’ll start things off be describing my first yakiniku adventure in downtown Vancouver.  Continue reading:
Vancouver’s Best Yakiniku Japanese BBQ Restaurant? You make the call

Eco-Eating: Vancouver’s Carbon Neutral Restaurant

Photo credit: Torontophotoassistant.com

Going carbon neutral was a big thing a few years ago, though it’s sadly slipped from the headlines of late.  Carbon neutrality means having no carbon footprint.  The idea is that through a combination of reducing your carbon output (by using renewable energy, recycling, etc) and purchasing carbon offsets (in essence, paying to have someone else “unpollute” the atmosphere through reforestation and clean energy projects), your net carbon emissions end up being zero.

All sorts of things can be certified as carbon neutral: housing developments, transit systems, businesses, even people.  It’s not easy to do and represents a pretty big commitment to the environment.  And now, one of Vancouver’s best restaurants has joined the club.

You might know Chambar as possibly the finest Belgian-French-Moroccan fusion restaurant that ever existed (at least if you’ve tried their braised lamb shank with honey and figs).  But the restaurant also has a serious green side.

Continue reading:
Eco-Eating: Vancouver’s Carbon Neutral Restaurant

A Decade of Eating Fresh and Local: West Restaurant

(c) Remy Scalza

These days it seems like every other restaurant in Vancouver is offering a hundred-mile menu and embracing seasonal ingredients.  But few have been championing the eat-fresh, eat-local mantra longer – or with better results – than West, the venerable Vancouver institution in the South Granville neighborhood.

Lauded annually by Vancouver Magazine and food critics across Canada, West will be celebrating its 10th birthday this year.  Back when it first opened its doors, the vibrant Vancouver restaurant scene we know today was still in its infancy – a few great bistros, lots of staid old Continental restaurants serving up middling European fare.   West – as the name suggests – helped bring the food focus a little closer to home, emphasizing fish and produce from the Pacific Northwest and a lighter, more contemporary cooking style.

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A Decade of Eating Fresh and Local: West Restaurant

Gourmet Lunch at Bargain Price: $29 Special at Market

For many foodies, the highlight of the culinary year is Dine Out Vancouver, when the city’s top restaurants offer discount tasting menus.  The only problem: Dine Out lasts but two short weeks (2010’s event ran from April 26-May 6).

Which is why the ongoing lunch special at Market restaurant in the downtown’s Shangri-La hotel is so exceptional.  $29 buys you a three-course lunch, Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  It’s like a Dine Out promotion that never ends.

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Gourmet Lunch at Bargain Price: $29 Special at Market

The Ikea Cafeteria Fan Club – Swedish meatball lovers unite!

Vancouver's best bargain meal?

There are lots of reasons to like the Ikea store in Coquitlam, a ‘burb about 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver.   The store is huge, with enough reasonably priced Swedish furniture to satisfy the pickiest of buyers.  The big showroom  makes for great people watching, too, with everyone from tweens to grannies prodding and ogling bedroom sets and funky Swedish chairs.

But the undisputed best thing about the Coquitlam Ikea has to be the cafeteria.  I almost feel a bit ashamed that I didn’t know about this before.  I had my first experience at the cafeteria last weekend, and it was just about earth shaking.

Continue reading:
The Ikea Cafeteria Fan Club – Swedish meatball lovers unite!