What are my favourite places to eat in Vancouver? That is probably the second most asked question I get right after what is your favourite that you’ve done. Both questions are tough because I have had so many great experiences to narrow it down to a list of one or five seems too short and limiting to me. But you have asked so I have decided to name my five favourite restaurants. The criteria is simple; which restaurants do I crave to visit when I return from a two to three-week adventure in another part of the world. Once I put it in those terms, the answers come easily to me. All serve me amazing food, give great customer service and provide excellent value. Four of them have been open for 2+ years and one of them is just six weeks new. These are my go-to favourite places to eat in Vancouver.
Yew Seafood & Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver – follow me on Instagram and you will know that I eat here a lot. In fact when Executive Chef Ned Bell is in the kitchen you can’t keep me away from the place. I will eat almost anything except I hate Salmon, Clams and in general not big on most seafood. Why do I share this with you? Because if anyone is going to get me to eat fish it is Chef Ned Bell. It goes without saying it will be Ocean Wise seafood, did you catch his cross country cycle last year promoting sustainable seafood?
Aside from great seafood I think Yew serves up the BEST Smoked Meat Sandwich in all over Vancouver. I dare you find a better one outside of Montreal. There is also another reason to enjoy an evening or a few hours at Yew, the bar with its amazing cocktail programme. Under the skilled hands of Bar Mistress extraordinaire Lauren Mote, Yew has some of the best craft cocktails in town and they all have a story to tell. Will I see you at Yew? I know chances are good you will see me there.
Forage at the Listel Hotel – Executive Chef Chris Whittaker does it all. He preserves, he hunts; he fishes and he forages. All of that and he is an amazing chef creating a truly seasonal menu at Forage. No matter if it is Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall 90% of the menu contain ingredients that are “in season”. You won’t see a Strawberry Shortcake on the menu in December, but chances are good you will see Winter Squash and Brussel Sprouts star in a dish. Chef Chris’s second in command Welbert Choi is the master of all things pasty and if the Skillet Corn Bread is on the menu, ORDER IT. OMG, it is my absolute favourite.
Another favourite of mine is the Wild Foraged Mushrooms with Goat Cheese and Rye Toast. It screams comfort food and pairs well with the great BC wines they pour me. Oh did I mention that Sunday through Wednesday Forage holds a Meat Draw? That’s right every dinner on those nights is entered into the draw that takes place at 8 am and you could win some meat. I won a Confit Duck Leg once. It’s so old school yet it’s hip and awesome.
Fable Kitchen in Kitsilano – When Chef Trevor Bird competed on Top Chef Canada Season Two he went all the way to the end coming in second to Chef Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station fame in Toronto. Carl may have won the title, but Trevor came away with a restaurant concept. Fable is the merging of Farm to Table = Fable. Just like Yew and Forage Chef Trevor knows where all his ingredients come from and changes his menu to reflect the seasons and what’s fresh. You have to make a reservation at Fable if you want a table. I prefer to sit at the bar so I can watch Trevor and his team as they work. He runs the line like a maestro commands his orchestra; it is a joy to watch. There have been times when I’ve changed my order after watching him prepare a dish I thought of ordering. Now I sit and enjoy a drink before I order.
There are a couple of staple items on the Fable menu you have to try. First up is the Canned Tuna. It isn’t your grocery store canned tuna; this is made in house and my words won’t do it justice. Just order it, follow the instructions on how to mix it up and enjoy. Another favourite is the Chick Pea Fritters. They are little balls of fried vegetarian yumminess! Seriously make a reservation when you decide to check out Fable. I don’t want you not to be able to get in.
Provence Marinaside & The Wine Bar in Yaletown – The closest restaurant to my home Provence and TWB are two separate restaurants owned and run by the same amazing Chefs Jean-Francis & Alessandra Quaglia. They are side by side and each offers a great but different menu and experience. I choose TWB when I’m in the mood for a glass of wine or three, and some smaller tasting plates. Provence is my choice when I am looking for a multi-course meal or I’m craving their Croque Monsieur for brunch. It is my favourite brunch item and has been for over ten years.
Provence inspired Tapas like their fresh daily Gnocchi, Risotto Balls and Grilled Avocado with Shrimp keep me satisfied while I sample over 40 wines available on TAP. Did I say they have over 40 wines available on TAP? For this reason alone they are on my favourite places to eat list. TWB also has one of the best Happy Hour offerings in town. They call it Tappy Hour and it has the biggest selection of wine and nibbles I have seen to date. From 3 to 5 pm you can choose from over ten wines on tap for only $5 each. I can hear the rumble as you all head there now.
Torofuku on Main Street – Now Torafuku has only been open for six weeks but the team of Clement Chan and Steve Kuan has been making culinary magic for a few years. They first started working together at the Hyatt; then they opened one of my favourite food trucks Le Tigre and now they taken the Le Tigre concept to bricks and mortar. If the line-ups are anything to go by it’s a hit with the foodie crowd as well as me. I finally sat down for dinner a few days ago and everything I had from the Brown Cow (Braised Oxtail with Sticky Rice Cake), the perfectly cooked Calamari, Dr Octupus Salad vs Mr Tuna and the signature Torafuku Ramen wowed me.
The plates are the perfect size to share and the most expensive item on the menu was $13. My friend and I had five tasting plates plus dessert and a couple of cocktails. Oh, did I mention they have a wicked craft cocktail menu? Well, they do. As for the bill, it was under a $100 + tip. Now that was a lot of food, I mean a lot because I had to loosen my belt a little bit. On a regular night I think three plates between two people is perfect.
It was my first visit, but it will not be my last. Torafuku is going to be my Asian comfort food go to joint. I’ll sit at the bar and watch Chef Clement and his team make magic.
So there you have my five favourite places to eat in all of Vancouver. Try one or try them all you will not be disappointed. If I am in town chances are good you will see me at one of these. Bon appetite!