What a fabulous city—for eating, for sightseeing, for shopping, for mountains, for the water...you name it. Neither the Lovely Dining Companion nor I had ever been to Vancouver before. I eagerly await our return. We ate, we shopped, we walked, we ate, we hiked, we ate.... The people are friendly, the weather was good (at least most the time we were there), everything was terrific, although I wish some of the prices had occasionally been a bit less, well, pricey. TOJO'S
We were glad to see that turkob, a couple posts upthread, had a great time here. And I start with Tojo's because it made a great impression on us, too. Negatively. We had heard nothing but how terrific this place is: Japanese food done right. Award upon award, impossible to get into, pricey but exquisite. Tojo claims to be the inventor of the California roll (a claim that appears to be disputed) and to say that he is venerated locally is an understatement. One wall is covered with some five or six dozen framed awards. But if you look close, virtually every award is local. That should have been the tip-off, although, to be scrupulously fair, there was a piece from Gourmet, a NYTimes write-up (Bittman, not Bruni), and Anthony Bourdain likes the place (but then, he knows Tojo). So who are we?
(I'm not quite sure of the significance of this—though I suspect that it has none. But it did not escape my notice that Forbes, the magazine that can't enough to do for its subscribers, has apparently compiled a list of "Top Ten World's Most Expensive Sushi" places. Tojo's ranks fourth, following Masa in NYC, Sushi-ko in Tokyo, and Miyako in Geneva. And no, I couldn't find an explanation of how they calculate this.)
In a word, disappointing. On second thought, I need a stronger word. We did not sit at the sushi bar (sometimes called the omakase bar because, as is pointed out above, you don't order there, you are served omakase-style)—although we certainly could have. Given all the hoopla and warnings we read before we went, it was remarkably easy to get a dinner reservation for a Friday evening a mere week ahead. More intriguing still, the restaurant was never full. Not even the vaunted sushi bar. Our reading—the place is written up in dozens of papers, blogs, and in foodie threads near and far (Google Tojo's and Vancouver and you'll get an amazing 31,900 results!)—led us to believe that Tojo is both a sushi master AND that his omakase is to die for.
The restaurant is a very large, post-modern room featuring a sushi/omakase bar that seats 15 where Tojo presides. When he's there. (He wasn't the night we were.) The servers are all Japanese; not of Japanese descent from Canada, but Japanese from Japan. Some are more proficient in English than others but all help give the place the right "feel" (due in part to the fact that they all wear kimonos or happi coats and have, or retain, fairly strong accents). I emphasize that because the food doesn't really contribute a lot to the feeling of Japanese-ness; it's often very Westernized Japanese food.
We each chose a different omakase. An omakase is supposed to be creative and it's supposed to be surprising...shocking even. This is the chef's opportunity to show off; to flaunt his knowledge, his expertise, his skill, his judgment, his entire being. Presentation is valued, if possible, even more highly than inventiveness or astonishing-ness.
Some have written that this restaurant is Tojo's effort to update or step beyond traditional Japanese food. Then why was almost everything so extraordinarily ordinary? There was little evidence in either of our dinners of much inventiveness or creativity. Neither dinner featured a single course with great imagination. Both dinners included high-quality ingredients composed with little imagination. Perhaps even more dismaying in its own way was the lack of devotion to presentation. Presentation is not only a key to Japanese food (and the Japanese esthetic generally), it's a hallmark of omakase. There was little about any of our courses that met the expectations usually attendant upon this kind of meal. Tojo's turns out to be the place to have an expense-account dinner (we saw a number of business execs in suits) or an "impress-your-date" place (we saw several younger couples). It is not a place where Japanese eat--either Japanese-Canadians, Japanese-Americans, or Japanese from Japan; there were few Asians of any ethnicity at all in the very large room, other than employees.
Tojo understandably features his own creations on the menu. But they are staid. You're not likely to find anything like Northern Lights, Great Pacific, or Celebration 2010 rolls in high-end places in Japan, nor miss them. Take Tojo's "Great Canadian Roll." Here's how the menu describes it: "East meets West: Atlantic lobster with asparagus inside with smoked Pacific salmon on top." We didn't have it and I have no reason to believe that it's anything but delicious. But creative? The presentations from which we expected so much were all neat and uncluttered. But they seemed more likely to have been drawn from a textbook than innovative or thought-provoking in any way. Shocking or breathtaking wasn't in the cards.
I chose the five-course omakase for $80. My courses:
1) a too-large portion (about 3" in diameter and 1½" high) of finely chopped tuna with seven or eight pellets of sato imo (mountain potato), cucumber, and some green onion, all sitting in a puddle of ponzu with some shoyu. Why do I say "too large"? Because after a time, one tires—and one's palate tires—of eating it. As good as the tuna was, the sato imo and cucumber were simply too infrequent. This course relied almost entirely a single ingredient and it became boring after a while. I've had a similar dish elsewhere and high-quality tuna is the starting point, not the goal. What makes this dish sing is the choice of "add-ins" and how they complement the tuna. There just weren't enough other flavors or textures to intrude on mouthful after mouthful of tuna, good as it was.
2) thin slices of lightly cooked octopus atop a bed of wakame, pickled daikon, and carrot, dressed with a slightly spicy sesame miso dressing. A very good course, possibly the highlight. Very fresh octopus (one raw sucker decorated the top) and good wakame.
3) grilled salmon atop mixed veggies with a dollop of some kind of creamy roe (sorry, I didn't take notes). The roe is the sole thing that distinguishes this course from the identical item at too many other restaurants. A small fillet of grilled salmon? This is Vancouver where there are too many great chefs and top restaurants who have access to the same great quality fish. What did the chefs do to make this salmon stand out? They added some roe to it.
4) nori-wrapped red tuna with a tempura crust, topped with sauce made from ume (sour pickled plum). The tempura crust might have added some textural interest but it was effectively non-existent. I don't know if the kitchen didn't do a good job or the crust fell off or what happened. So we're left with tuna wrapped in nori. The second course in a row that, but for the missing tempura crust, felt more like a missed opportunity than anything else.
5) sushi (smoked salmon, scallop, (not sure of this one), tamago with tobiko (flying fish roe), and in the back, hamachi/yellowtail and unagi). The course featured very good fish and, while that is always appreciated, it's not like there's only one place to get great fish in Vancouver. I suppose a sushi course is almost inevitable in a situation like this and I can't find much fault with it but nothing about it was out of the ordinary or unexpected, not even the choice of fish.
6) dessert: a black sesame custard. Tasted definitively of black sesame. The problem is that I'm not sure that that's a good idea--it's not exactly a dessert flavor (at least not to my palate).
LDC's vegetarian ($70) omakase:
1) three small offerings: spinach, pickled daikon, and sliced asparagus and mushrooms (dressed with miso); these are what one would ordinarily expect (and receive) as Japanese version of an amuse
in almost any other Japanese restaurant in the world...a little vorspeis
to whet your appetite. All three were perfectly fine and perfectly ordinary.
2) wakame salad atop organic greens with "house" dressing. Okay, fine. But then, it's kinda hard to mess this up very much.
3) a potato croquette atop mixed veggies with shoyu and miso sauces. This is street food in Japan. If you're going to serve street food, you ought to do something remarkable to it if you're going to make it part of a $70 omakase. Serving it over veggies is not something remarkable.
4) braised mushrooms with green onion in a hoisin-like sauce. Uh, okay. Good...even very good, but the course again begs the question: is this the best you can possibly do?
5) vegetarian sushi, including inari-zushi. Inari-zushi falls into the same category as a potato croquette. You can get this at any hole-in-the-wall. Why is Tojo serving this? What is he doing to it to make someone sit up and take notice? There was nothing "wrong" with the course and, as a sushi course, it was probably as expectable as the sushi course in my omakase. But it managed to maintain the theme of ordinariness.
6) dessert: fruit flavored ice creams. Couldn't he at least have found green tea (or adzuki bean) ice cream?
It is worth noting that there was nothing served at the beginning of the meal--no miso soup, no small plate of pickles, nothing whatsoever. There were no little extras at any point during the entire evening. Not even white rice was offered. Hell, notwithstanding these prices, they had the gall to charge for green tea. Green tea!
The only surprise of the evening (other than the major-league disappointment we both felt) was when the LDC sat straight up in her seat with a look of surprise on her face. The one "creative" touch of this cutting-edge chef was...he is pushing the envelope by putting pineapple in his sushi!
We can imagine lots of unusual/unexpected ingredients. But in a roll that features such cutting edge items as cucumber, asparagus, and carrot, why pineapple? Well, I'll give him this: pineapple certainly qualifies as unexpected! We'd be open to pineapple if there was something remarkable about the way he served it, the combination he served it with, the presentation. Something. Anything. But this was just a piece of pineapple (LDC suspects that it was canned, fwiw) in an otherwise completely ordinary piece of sushi. There was no challenge to the palate, to preconceptions, to anything. Given the asparagus and the cucumber, it didn't even offer a change in texture. Just laziness in an otherwise relentlessly ordinary sushi roll.
Now. Please go back and read the courses in that vegetarian omakase again. Seventy dollars for those
courses? This is the omakase of a world-renowned chef? "Chutzpah" mixes our ethnicities, here, but $70 for those courses falls within my definition of chutzpah. Could we imagine a vegetarian omakase worth $70? Yes, without any doubt whatsoever. We don't object to paying the money for such a thing; heck, LDC would never have ordered it if we did. We can certainly imagine it. We just didn't get it. (Perhaps this is the place to note that Tojo's charges $16 for an a la carte salad of "organic greens" and $18 for wakame atop those greens. I guess we should have read the regular menu more carefully before we ordered.)
Let me summarize: good, occasionally very good, dishes, in terms of taste alone. But overall this was run-of-the-mill Japanese food. At these prices, inventiveness, creativity, quality, taste, presentation...everything should be spectacular. But it isn't. Even LDC's green tea was just okay. (I chose a 300 ml bottle of junmai ginjo from the sake list. $38 for 300 ml; it was good, he said, damning with faint praise.) Service was fine. This is probably where I should note that our server, and others we overheard, were not particularly comfortable using English. Servers are apparently instructed to explain things in detail without using a single word of Japanese. Things for which there was a single, simple Japanese word were translated into cumbersome, sometimes confusing, English. Had we not been familiar with the cuisine, I have no doubt that some of the disjointed descriptions would have misled us. While the dedicated effort to allow diners to understand exactly what is on their plates is admirable, inflexible rules like this fail because some situations simply beg for breaking the rules. Some translations into English became stilted because servers weren't able to use Japanese words. It was never a service issue but I can imagine that it creates confusion.
Outrageous prices, no miso, no gratis pickles, a charge for tea. Frankly, even if had we not been expecting so much, even if we had just discovered Tojo's walking down the street, our opinion would be the same. This is not the exceptional restaurant that it purports to be; not even a post-Japanese restaurant and even the excuse that Tojo takes pride in focusing on local sources (which, in turn, somewhat skews what he can do) doesn't wash. I read one writer who waxed lyrical about the individual grains of rice in his sushi and another who claimed that "Sushi in Japan did not come close to Tojo's.
" This is the kind of nutso devotion this place inspires. Having now spent well over $200 there, it beats us why. It may be that if Tojo is there personally and if Tojo wants, for whatever reason, to make certain that you enjoy your visit (hello Tony Bourdain), and if you are prepared to open your wallet unreservedly, then it may be that Tojo's is a very special place. When all those "if's" are met, I'll report in detail on that unique circumstance. But until then, I can't imagine recommending this place.LE CROCODILE
A couple nights earlier, our second night in Vancouver, we walked over to this place. I purposely chose it over Daniel Boulud's Lumière
. This is old-school French, right down to a waiter fresh off the calvados boat (or whatever boat arrives from France bearing waiters). Although the room is large, it's cozy and, though we were there on a Thursday evening, it was full. Completely full. And deservedly so. The chef is Alsatian, much of the serving staff is French direct from France, and everything about it is Old World. If you don't want that, this isn't the place for you.
Crabcake (amuse bouche)
Offered as an amuse was a very small, luscious crabcake. Drawing on the rich bounty locally available to chefs in this city, this was a great introduction to the restaurant and the evening. The cake was filled with crab and just barely enough binder to keep it together. From the quality of the crab to the generous proportion in each little cake, from the flavor to the perfect rendition (not greasy or oily in the least), this was a great starter. And, aside from one major miscue (for which I must share the blame), dinner would prove to be excellent.
Veal sweetbreads with porcini, turnip purée
Following the crabcake LDC opened with a slice of Alsatian onion tart that could have fed several people. Rich, sweet caramelized onions in a delectable crust. There may well be better examples in Alsace, but this version would please all but the most demanding. It struck a perfect balance between the opulence of the rich, sweet onions and a light airy custard. The only downside was the almost overgenerous portion. We should all have such dilemmas. I opted for veal sweetbreads with porcini mushrooms in a citrus reduction. The presentation was superb and the taste lived up to the presentation.
Fettucine with lobster and prawns
For our entrees, LDC chose fettuccine with lobster and tiger prawns and I ended up with Provençale-style lamb shanks with roasted garlic and a tomato fondu. LDC professed herself to be quite happy with her dinner despite lobster which she said was (dismayingly) not particularly sweet. The prawns, apparently, were highly satisfactory. My lamb shanks were very lamb-y (a plus in my book), quite meaty, and nicely done indeed. The richness of the lamb was cut by the acid of the tomatoes and the sweetness of the plentiful roasted garlic was a nice foil as well. (In the foreground of the picture you can see a dish of the most remarkable frites
delivered to every table. As the picture hints, the plate was heaped high with these delectable, perfectly fried, thin crisp beauties.)
Service was always prompt and we rarely needed to summon anyone to ask for anything. No one hovered and everyone knew his or her assignment. Indeed, visits were just often enough to ensure a smooth flow and make certain that we didn't want anything. Our only real complaint would be that it would have helped to have a server a bit more at ease in English; I tried to switch the conversation to French at one point where English temporarily left us at an impasse, but the server seemed bound and determined to get through it in English or not at all. So we eventually worked through it.
Dessert: sorbets for the LDC and a classic of the Old School for moi: Grand Marnier soufflé. I can't even recall the last time I saw it on the menu. I couldn't imagine doing this more than once a year, frankly. But it has probably been at least a decade since I even had this, possibly two. So I thought, why not? And their preparation was as nearly perfect as I can imagine. Light, flavored with Grand Marnier but not reeking of it, just crusty enough on top, and exactly the right portion. If I have a criticism it would be that while I appreciated the little pitcher of crème anglaise, I would have appreciated it even more had the server not poked a hole in the soufflé and poured the entire contents of the pitcher in without asking. But the soufflé itself was so perfect that I am even willing to overlook this gaffe. RAIN CITY GRILL
It was, appropriately, raining pretty hard during our last dinner in Vancouver. This is a place known for both seafood and for locally sourced products. It's not a particularly large place but it has long had a great reputation in Vancouver for its seafood and its "Northwest" cuisine. It sits close to the water and would have offered great views of the mountains across English Bay but for the fog and rain (two provincial parks lie just outside North Vancouver). Still, it was dark and cozy inside and we looked forward to this, our last dinner in this great town.
Seared scallop and bacon
Melon and crab salad
Having already eaten four meals so far this day, LDC's appetite was flagging, so she went with a "spoon" and an appetizer: a seared scallop with a bacon "sauce" and a melon/crab salad. Both won high praise, though the ratio of melon to crab was declared to be somewhat less than desirable. Still, the meaty crab and the sweet melon made a nice match and a fitting meal.
I chose to begin with scallops as well. My choice, though, was a couple seared scallops atop a melted leek risotto (that's a carrot foam in the picture). Meaty, firm, luscious, fresh scallops. This is why going local is so edifying--short of eating these on the boat, it's hard to imagine much fresher seafood. The leek risotto was more leek than risotto, but it turned out to be a tastier complement than I feared.
For my entree, braised lamb cheeks with caramelized fennel (that's an eggplant "sauce" painted on the plate). I guess this is one of those things either you like or not: lamb seems to be one of those divisive tastes. LDC isn't a fan, lucky for me. No shared tastes! The lamb was everything one could ask: beyond fork tender (somehow "meltingly tender" doesn't seem quite right as a descriptor and my command of the language fails me in describing just how fall-apart good this lamb was), opulantly, luxuriously rich and flavorful. Not overly lamby in the way that some can be, just packed with (pardon the borrowing here) lamby goodness. Not having the opportunity to have locally-sourced lamb all that often, I can't say for certain that this was a factor in my appreciation, but given the extraordinarily wide variety of things that were local here (scallops to lamb in one meal is a pretty broad range), I'm thankful whatever the cause.PHNOM PENH
Phnom Penh is in a somewhat dingy corner of Chinatown and it serves Vietnamese and Cambodian food. It is enormously popular and in order to get in without spending the afternoon waiting, we agreed to share a table. We soon found ourselves at a table with a young mom and her two young kids and a middle-aged couple. Everyone was friendly. The young mom offered us a number of shopping tips and the kids took part in the conversation when they weren't busy devouring what was in front of them. The husband was very curious about us, though we suspect his wife didn't speak English. Indeed, at one point, he chewed out the staff because our food took longer than he thought it should to be delivered. (We believe that the delay was owing to what we ordered, not to any desire to single us out.) The large room was filled with families and couples, indeed, most of the tables and booths served a minimum of four or six. And there was a large group waiting as we left.
It's no wonder. This was excellent food. Nothing fancy, but great food wonderfully prepared. LDC ordered trieu chau
(steamed dumplings with Lop cheong, pork, gingko nuts, jicama (we think), hard-boiled egg, topped with cilantro) and I had a mok
, sometimes one word. Both were on the first page of this multi-page menu under "House Specials." Mine is a staple of Cambodian food (I didn't know this at the time) and amounted to seafood stewed in a coconut milk/lemongrass/galangal broth. The standard preparation is with fish, though it can also be made with chicken. Knowing all that now, I like the way I had it: a generous assortment of many different kinds of seafood. The best way I know to explain this restaurant is this: if it were in Chicago, it would have been a GNR for years by now. Trieu chau
(photo courtesy of this
(There has been some debate on this board about whether a restaurant packed with people who are the same ethnicity as the menu is a good sign or a bad sign. In general, my own sense is that it's a good sign, though not without exceptions. You may disagree with me but this trip only reinforced my prejudice: until the very end of our lunch, I was the only white person in a jam-packed Phnom Penh. And we were about the only people speaking English, at least to judge by all the nearby tables. LDC, on the other hand, was one of a very few people of Asian descent in Tojo's.) ZAKKUSHISato imo
(deep-fried mountain potato) and the "dipping sauce" of finely powdered green tea (salty)Takoyaki
(grilled octopus with plenty of toppings, an Osaka specialty; a wonderful snack)
A cozy izakaya with enjoyable food. They have three locations and we can't speak to the others. We went to the one on Denman Street after walking up and down the street examining dozens of options. This is not a place that serves great food, but most izakayas are known for their atmosphere in any event. The food was very well made, well-seasoned, and we enjoyed almost every one of the many courses we ordered. It's worth noting that the menu was quite large and, unlike, say, Tojo's, the food was Japanese without being Westernized in the least. Mochi isobe
(grilled mochi--sticky rice--wrapped in nori
with soy sauce)
Out of this world! What a perfect combination: the gooey sticky rice, slightly sweet with the hint of the sea from the seaweed and the salt of the shoyu. New to me and to die for. Shishitou
(grilled peppers topped with katsuobushi
(shaved dried bonito))
These mild peppers reminded me of padron peppers without the occasional really hot one. They're lightly charred and you eat the entire thing, seeds and all. A nice interlude.
No compromises on ingredients, flavors, presentation, or anything else. That said, there are plenty of items on the menu that, even for those who are less-than-familiar with this kind of food, is quite accessible and non-challenging (in a textural or flavor context).MEDINA CAFE
If you're ready for vividly flavored North African food for breakfast, this is the place. (To be sure, they have two or three good ol' Murican options like waffles or oatmeal, but that's not why you go to breakfast here. Sure, you can get fish at a steakhouse, but why would you?) One of the best breakfasts I can recall in a long time. Unexpected menu, some of the best coffee I've had in years, and busy as all get-out on a weekday morning.
By way of illustration, here's just a few dishes from the menu (I should add that the menu is not overlarge by any means. Still, even with a short list of items, I had a lot of trouble choosing):
Paella One baked egg, curried orzo, hungarian chorizo, zucchini, red pepper, roast corn, grano padano, avocado and tomato salad. $12
Cassoulet 2 fried eggs on baked beans, saucisson de Paris, double smoked bacon and andouille. Grilled foccaccia. $15
Libanais Soft boiled egg, cucumber tomato salad, baba ganoush, tabouleh. Fried pita bread. $12
Tagine Poached eggs, spicy tomato stew, red pepper, merguez sausage, moroccan olives, cilantro. Grilled foccaccia $14
I overcame my inhibitions, ordered the tagine, and enjoyed an amazing, well-seasoned dish. It's refreshing to come across a kitchen that doesn't steer toward the safe middle in its seasoning. Absolutely terrific dish. The merguez was firm, spicy, generously sized, and worked perfectly. The eggs, peppers, and merguez sat in the tomato "stew." That stew was, again, brightly seasoned, from luscious ripe tomatoes and...well, golly, just perfect.
I need to plug the grilled foccaccia as well. Yeah, it's just bread and yeah, it comes with a number of the dishes. But this is foccaccia cut like Texas toast and as light and fluffy as you would never expect. Drizzled with a bit of balsamic. Where have you been all my life?
You can get a couple "standard" Western-style breakfast items, including a small but apparently exceptional waffle, or oatmeal, or even an omelette. But you can get those many places. You can't find this set of choices elsewhere and if you find yourself in Vancouver and even mildly curious, I can't encourage you too much. But go early; it's small and if you're not there fifteen minutes after they open, you'll be eating somewhere else.
Tagine (photo courtesy of this
blog)BACCHUS (for high tea)
Bacchus is just off the main lobby of the Wedgewood Hotel, around the corner from the Vancouver Art Museum. I can't speak to the hotel's furnishings, but the tea is served in the bar--which isn't quite as incongruous as it seems, although there were a couple of large screen televisions which didn't really add to the ambiance. We chose a table that allowed us to look toward the fireplace (and the day we visited it was cold and rainy and the fire was a wonderful sight). There are big overstuffed leather chairs. Plenty of dark wood and decor from your grandmother's house. And then there's the tea service. The LDC and I always try to work in a high tea no matter where we go; it's civilized, it's fun, and it's usually pretty delicious, too. While this may not be my all-time favorite (I'm thinking that that honor goes to Lake Louise or Banff, although we've had some pretty great teas in a lot of places, including right here in Chicago), it was exceedingly well-done.
In fact, this is one of the first times I can recall being at tea and thinking to myself, "There's too much food." I'm used to a wide variety but here there was not only variety but a surfeit. Just too much. Three kinds of sandwiches (egg salad, cucumber, and chicken salad); two kinds of scones; small (not tiny) éclairs; fruit tarts; nut cakes; and other cakes. The tea selection was broad but not deep and we were both happy with our selections. Just a little disappointed at the forced confluence of sports on the large televisions and high tea....
Now then. I've skipped some meals: our breakfasts at Templeton and Deacon's Corner, for example, were perfectly ordinary examples of diner food. Good, but nothing worth singling out. We had other meals elsewhere that were likewise good, but not noteworthy. Still, if you add up the number of meals and the number of days we were thereODDS AND ENDS
The title should, by no means, be understood to detract from the fabulous time we had at the Granville Island Public Market. It's far from the largest public market we've been to and there wasn't a great deal that we haven't seen elsewhere, but it was an impressive place nonetheless. Because of Vancouver's terrific geographic location, everything from astonishing seafood to "The Mushroom Man" to the standard fruits, veggies, meats, breads, and pastries was on display. It looked like pretty much all high quality stuff and we were only sad that we had so little opportunity to avail ourselves of the riches there. (Not to mention the second
public market across the water in North Vancouver at Lonsdale Quay.) And here we sit in Chicago, a city about six times the size of Vancouver and we don't have anything to match it. Sad.
This was a first for me. I almost did a double-take when I saw this small sign in the window....CUPCAKES
was a place we were curious to try; the press has been great and hey, who doesn't love a great cupcake? Fortunately for us (since it was still raining), the store was directly across the street from Raincity Grill. So we popped in just as they were in close-up-for-the-night mode. They were not happy to have customers and it showed. Matter of fact, their unhappiness fairly reeked. Too bad, 'cause the red velvet cupcake was one hell of a cupcake and we'd be happy to recommend the place otherwise. But such crappy attitude is really depressing.
As anyone who has ever been to a Chinatown anywhere knows (and I imagine that's virtually everyone on this board), stopping in all the shops is not only fun, but fascinating, educational, informative, entertaining, and often delicious. So as we poked our heads into a bakery to get a couple to-go snacks, I happened to spy these old steamer trays on the counter. Couldn't resist the picture. What do you think?
Although this place was highly recommended upthread, we just couldn't squeeze in another morsel at the time. But what a great awning!
All of which leaves me with that perennial question: why does food taste so much better on vacation? The good places are better; the great places, greater (and even the mediocre places somehow better), or at least it seems that way. The only plausible explanation I've managed to come up with--fabulous local sources aside--is that it is, obviously, vacation. Nowhere we have to be in two hours. Nothing to do when we get home. Nowhere to be tomorrow. No work coming up. Even more than when we go out to eat at home, we're relaxed. But there's really so many things that go into enjoying a meal from atmosphere to physical comfort to sounds and sensations, service, not to mention the taste of the food itself. We may be more relaxed on vacation, but that still leaves all those other factors over which we have so little control. So even acknowledging the relaxation factor, is the service, ambiance, taste, sounds and sensations really so much better when we're away from home? Beats me.
1133 W. Broadway
909 Burrard (at Smithe)
1193 Denman Street
244 Georgia St E
(no website but plenty on the internet)
823 Denman Street
556 Beatty Street
Bacchus (Wedgewood Hotel)
845 Hornby Street
P.S. For all of you who never really outgrew Peter Pan and have always wanted to learn to fly, here's the place: