Vancouver Restaurants

Our June 2011 trip to Vancouver, as is the case with virtually all our trips, packed as many interesting restaurants—not to speak of local wines—as possible (at least within the context of our business obligations) into our short visit.

We identified restaurants through a combination of advance research, discussions with knowledgeable locals and by stopping to peruse the menus, atmosphere and vibe of virtually every interesting restaurant that we identified in our research, was recommended by locals or that we passed in our miles of walking. Our selections, as usual, typically tend to favor places with locally-sourced, sustainable seafood and interesting preparations. This trip’s Vancouver meals consisted of several meals and snacks. (I must, however, apologize. I managed to misplace my notes on the food and wines for this trip. While I tried to reconstruct our meals from memory and the restaurants’ web sites, one (Chambar) did not show the menu we had or the wine list, one (Blue Water) omitted the wine list and the third (Raincity Grill) had no menu or wine list at all. The following is the best we could do.)


  • Raincity Grill. This west side restaurant (with an integrated fish and chips stand) has a nice view of the English View Beach and the fun, people-friendly “A-Maze-In-Laughter at English Bay” public sculpture. Dinner consisted of a steamed Manila Clam appetizer, a very nice Halibut in a broth, an equally pleasing sautéed wild mushroom side (as shown below) and a very nice 2009 N’Knip B.C. pinot noir;
  • Chambar, a very popular upper Yaletown restaurant with three signature mussel dishes and a selection of fish, meat and fowl entrees. We had the Moules Frites Congolaise in a tomato coconut cream broth, a braised lamb shank with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro—both on recommendations from different regulars and yet another B.C. pinot noir. Although both dishes were fine, we didn’t quite understand the fervor surrounding the restaurant; and
    Blue Water Café. A large, very popular and expensive seafood restaurant in Yaletown. Although all people with whom we talked, spoke highly of the restaurant, they all cautioned us of the price. This, in fact, prompted us to cancel restaurants we already had. After seeing the restaurant—and enjoying selections from its incredible lists of desert wines and single malt whiskeys, we managed to reestablish our reservations—and we are very glad we did. We had an imaginative and delicious Dungeness Crab + White Asparagus Panna Cotta, an equally good Sablefish with miso sake glaze, baby bok choy, edamame, quinoa and shiitake mushrooms, accompanied by a B.C. pinot gris.


  • Joe Fortes. This venerable (at least in the context of Vancouver), popular seafood house is located just off the Robson Street retail district. Our first impression was very off-putting. All tables were set with champagne glasses, The first time we saw our server, he suggested that we might like to begin with mimosas—implying (at least to us) that they were complementary. It was not until we specifically asked that he told us they were not. (In the restaurant and server’s defense, we did visit during Sunday brunch.) This being said, the service and the food were credible, if not particularly notable, service and food. The fried oysters, while a bit overdone for my taste, were serviceable. The cedar-plank grilled salmon with an edamame cabernet reduction sauce, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes was much more interesting. The lobster oil with balsamic served as an unusual and good accompaniment to the bread.


  • Rodney’s Oyster House; a fun, informal food and drink bar with a selection of oysters (including $1.50 low tide “happy hour”  oysters which pulled us in the door) and a limited menu of straightforward chowders, shellfish and fish dishes. We enjoyed a dozen Phantom Creek oysters and a bottle of Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris; and
  • Granville Island Public Market. Since we did not have time to both explore the shops and galleries area and enjoy a sit-down restaurant, we made due with a couple pick-up dishes from the Public Market. Although the market is certainly fun and has some very appetizing fresh meats, fish and produce, prepared options consisted primarily of fast food. Our samples consisted of a very credible and chicken-packed chicken noodle soup from a soup shop and an overly noodle-stuffed shrimp summer roll from an Asian stand.

Other Interesting Restaurants

Unfortunately, every city has more interesting restaurants than even our appetites can accommodate. Some of the more interesting of these missed opportunities included:

  • C Restaurant, a high-end seafood restaurant;
  • L’abbitoire, French;
  • Meat and Bread; fresh, local, sustainable meats on artisanal breads;
  • Café Medina; a breakfast/lunch sister restaurant to Chambar, whose only food is Belgian waffles, with a range of toppings; and

Our favorite of those we did try was, by far, Blue Water Grill.

Our Vancouver Hotel

Speaking of favorites, we were also very pleased with our hotel. Although I will generally leave discussion of hotels to Joyce, I did want to at least mention our Vancouver hotel. The Georgian Court hotel was well appointed, had a pleasant, competent staff and comfortable beds. It is conveniently located between Yaletown and Gastown (not to speak—on Stanley Cup playoff weekend—of being even closer to the hockey arena). We totally enjoyed the hotel except for one thing—slow and spotty WiFi access. Even so, it is well worth considering. The cost was only about $150 per night, although this was with our convention discount.

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