It is hard not to eat well in Vancouver. I was amazed by the diversity and high standard of all the eateries I experienced during my week in the city. Each establishment has its own personality and offers a menu which is thoughtful and unique, whether it is for a quick casual lunch or a smart evening meal. Here are five fantastic restaurants you must try on your visit to Vancouver.
Pidgin – On our first night in Vancouver we visited this stylish restaurant in an obviously undeveloped area of town. Jetlagged and weary Pidgin picked us up with strong cocktails and vibrant fusion food. It is an cool contemporary scene and the minimalist design let’s your mind focus entirely on Makoto Ono’s Asian-French inventions. Dishes like foie gras rice bowl with chestnuts, daikon and unagi glaze will challenge but excite any discerning foodie. The menu is designed for sharing, though a prix fixe menu is also available for 55 CAD. We chose a six plates from the intriguing menu; shishito peppers with parmesan and pine nuts was a mix of piquancy and subtlety. The lamb belly was a punchier dish served with ume-rosemary vinaigrette and marinated eggplant. Pidgin blurs the line between casual and fine dining with the hope that guests will feel comfortable and able to prioritise enjoying the delicious cuisine.
Don’t miss: fried chicken wings, a perfect balance of texture and flavour.
Maenam – Known for serving the best Thai food in Vancouver Maenam was a must try on my list. The small venue in the heart of Kitsilano has a cosy and friendly neighbourhood feel inside. Warm, oriental flavours fill the dining room as guests sip chilled wine and beer anticipating the Thai feast ahead. Co-owner and chef Angus An trained at (now closed) Michelin-starred Nahm in London before setting up on the streets of Vancouver. The restaurant prides itself on offering authentic Thai cuisine with a modern twist. We fell in love with the menu and consequently ordered far too much food, though it was lovely to have a variety to taste. Beef massaman curry is mild, thick and fragrant, a definite crowd pleaser. We also enjoyed the homemade thin and crispy roti bread (perfect for sauce dipping) and the wonderfully seasoned water spinach with pork belly and garlic. A rogue chilli left my mouth on fire, but it was worth it for food this good.
Don’t miss: 3 flavour paradise farm pork ribs (moo samrot) are spicy, sweet and utterly indulgent. The portion size looks big but will it won’t take you long to polish off this addictive delight.
Wildebeest – This restaurant is a meat eaters dream. A glamorous spot with a fine cocktail list and a menu that will entice you in. The open kitchen concentrates on nose to tail cooking, serving up plates of unusual cuts with quirky ingredient combinations, the results are always immaculate. Housed in a refurbished 19th century warehouse the venue has a grand but trendy feel. The chef presented us with a selection of their signature dishes which we relished as each arrived at our table. The crispy chicken terrine with chilli & chive aioli and pickled shallots were made as coquettes, seriously tasty little mouthfuls. Another highlight was the roasted bone marrow with buttered leeks and oyster mushrooms, an intense and innovative starter, particularly nice when spread on the grilled country bread. If you are a cocktail fan don’t miss the expert drinks from bartender Thor, we tried the White Dog and the Pisco Clover Club.
Don’t miss: handmade pappardelle with braised quail ragu, a buttery and comforting rustic dish.
Salt Tasting Room – This hip industrial space is a brilliant place to catch up with friends and is popular for dates. Found on historic Blood Alley in the Gastown district, it is a buzzing area of young creatives. The interior decor is basic but effective, with Philippe Starck designed stools, exposed brickwork walls and a giant chalkboard displaying the menu. It is a simple and brilliant concept, encouraging wine education and allowing visitors to sample a wide range of delicacies without spending a fortune. Each wine flight trio is the equivalent of 1.5 glasses of wine, which the staff recommend you try with accompanying meat, cheese and condiments. I loved the Viognier, a creamy and light white wine with natural aromatic notes of peach and pear. PS. The mini chocolate mousse desserts are unmissable.
Don’t miss: the wine flight, an opportunity to try a range of delicious wine varieties.
L’Abattoir – Arguably the best brunch spot in town L’Abattoir succeeds in the style and food departments. On the site of Vancouver’s first jail, this building has undergone a miraculous transformation. I adored the black and white tiled floors and the well equipped bar, which provides a striking entrance. Brunch is served from 10am-2pmon weekends and is popular with locals and visitors. After freshly brewed coffee we devoured homemade warm currant scones topped with fresh cream and raspberry jam. The select menu offers hearty savoury dishes like poached eggs with burrata cheese, tomato fondue and grilled bread. For a decadent addition order a side of rich duck sausage. Though famous for its brunch I’m sure L’Abattoir would excel at any time of day.
Don’t miss: the breakfast burger, an epic quarter pound patty with hash brown and fried egg.
All photos taken on my lovely Olympus Pen Lite E-PL7.