New options add enticing dimensions to a day in the city
by Kate Zimmerman
Yaletown diners are squawking about Homer St. Café and Bar, a bustling bistro that specializes in rotisserie chicken. This is comfort food of the highest order, served in a cheerful spot that cosily marries the historic Homer Building with the more recent Beasley. Start with fried chickpea dip and crostini, move on to chicken au jus with peewee potatoes, and wrap up with chocolate pudding, sea salt and honeycomb.
898 Homer Street
Seafood lovers can't get any fresher fare than The Lobster Man's on Granville Island. Pick your own live Dungeness crab or Nova Scotia lobster; staff can steam it there for take-out or pack it for long-distance transport. Start your feast with clams, scallops, mussels or oysters like the succulent Kusshi variety.
1807 Mast Tower Road, Granville Island
Fable restaurant – short for "from farm to table" – is the brainchild of Top Chef Canada competitor Trevor Bird. Fable's exposed brick décor and handmade shelving hints of the farmstead.
Meanwhile, its menus are inspired by the local, seasonal ingredients that show up at its kitchen door each morning, which wind up in homemade dishes like Slow Cooked Spring Salmon with
carrot purée and spring cassoulet. Globe and Mail restaurant critic Alexandra Gill gave Fable three stars, noting, "Mr. Bird's food is simple, yet exquisitely executed, lovingly sourced and vibrantly seasoned."
1944 West 4th Avenue
On the move? Vancouver's food truck scene has blossomed, with a huge variety of delectable, affordable options available curbside every day. From Tacofino Cantina, with its fish, pork, steak and yam tempura tacos, to the pulled pork and smoked brisket stylings of Re-Up BBQ, and Indian fusion cuisine at Vij's Railway Express, there's a food truck to suit every taste. Visit streetfoodapp.com for locations.
Secret Location attracts people who need to be in the know. Gastown's swath of trend-setting clothing and décor shops on Water Street, between Abbott and Carroll, now includes this "luxury concept store" that's part boutique, part lifestyle emporium, part chic restaurant. Browse through the hottest fashions and gewgaws, then plumb the menu for cocktails like the Arsenic and old Lace – gin, French vermouth and house-made crème de Violette in an absinthe-washed glass – while considering that Lulu Guinness bag. Darling, it will go with everything.
One Water Street
Novices and seasoned enthusiasts alike are drawn to Grouse Mountain's guided snowshoeing tours. You take the gondola to the peak, are outfitted with snowshoes and headlamps, then enjoy the velvety hush of an evening's trek along trails laced with snow-dusted fir trees. Your adventure includes a three-course dinner of various fondues at Altitudes Bistro.
6400 Nancy Greene Way
Much cheaper than actually flying coast to coast, FlyOver Canada bowls you over with its 4D, panoramic experience. Watch the introductory pre-show, then strap into a movable seat that seduces you with the illusion of soaring over such famous Canuck landmarks as Niagara Falls, heightened by appropriate sensory gusts.
201-999 Canada Place
Tap & Barrel's homey pleasures include both local craft beers and premium B.C. wines on tap. Chow down on fried pickles with dill sour cream, or a peanut butter and jam burger – that's chipotle peanut butter and bacon jam.
1055 Canada Place
1 Athletes Way
Look! There, in Yaletown! It's a barbershop; it's a bar; it's a club – no, it's Killjoy Barbers, an unusual pastiche of all three. Haircuts in the front, party in the cocktail tavern at the back means a well-groomed clientele savouring wines on tap, contemporary cocktails, charcuterie and cheese plates, and a basement nightclub with a cool lounge vibe.
106 - 1120 Hamilton Street
By bike or on foot, Victoria offers up its hidden gems
By Sarah Bancroft
Recently popped up in the trending Cook Street Village (a short walk from Beacon Hill Park) everything at the modern, carbon-neutral burger-and-shake shack Big Wheel Burger is sourced from within 100 miles, and grass-fed, hormone-free beef is ground on-site every morning. It's a cre- ative
take on the classic American burger: to order your burger "muddy" is to add gravy, and a "ghost burger" comes with sauce made from the world's hottest pepper, the ghost pepper. Insiders tip:
Big Wheel is the poker handle of one of the owners, who happens to be an international champion.
241 Cook Street
Right in the heart of downtown, do stop in at the new Bon Macaron shop run by a trio of young men who were trained in their native France to make these little meringue-based delicacies. Unlike
mass-produced macarons, they are baked and assembled by hand using all-natural essences of lavender and violet grown for the shop at Victoria's Happy Valley Farm. Try the bacon and cream cheese, a surprising but delicious choice.
1012 Broad Street
Climb down the stairs beside the fishing docks in the harbour and get ready to wait in line at RedFish BlueFish. you will be rewarded with the delicious seafood chowders and salmon tacones (a soft-shell taco cone with pea shoots and coleslaw) from this architectural take-out restaurant in a shipping container. The seafood is 100 per cent sustainable, and everything is recycled and composted in this zero-waste concept.
1006 Wharf Street
With nine micro-breweries within two kms of downtown Victoria, it's easy (and refreshing) to taste your way through the local suds. Start at Spinnakers (Canada's oldest brew pub, est. 1984) where ales are paired with their handmade truffles. Then, head to Rock Bay, the newly appointed Brewery District according to Rob Deshaine, a tour guide with the Pedaler, to hit Philips, Lighthouse, and Hoyne, the latter presided by Sean Hoyne, one of the area's top brewmasters. Still thirsty? The Moon Under the Water Brew Pub, a beer bar serving 100 per cent natural B.C. brews, is just down the way. Shareable
Growlers (1.9 litre) are the new six-pack. Bring them back for a refill at Phillips for just $10.
Located in a historic building on the downtown waterfront, The Guild is a new pub opened by the same dream team behind legendary local restaurant Zambri's. It's warm and dark as a pub should be, but the food and drink are quite a few notches up from your standard pub grub. You'll find classics like scotch egg, ploughman's lunch and Welsh rarebit, and nights go long and late as the local crowd gathers.
1250 Wharf Street
The new Victoria Public Market houses local butchers, bakers and candlestick makers in the beautiful Hudson building (a former Bay department store, a 15- minute walk from the harbour). Industrial-chic coffee shops and a hot yoga studio are already in place, and a Wednesday Farmer's Market occupies the greenway.
Located on Victoria's fashion-central Johnson Street, Amelia Lee dubs itself as the small boutique with big style. It's owned by fashion stylist Khloe Campbell, who works with rock stars and regular folks in need of a fresh look. need a little beauty boost along with that great new dress? They also do faux-eyelash applications.
610 Johnson Street
New bike tour company The Pedaler introduced us to neighbourhood hotspots and a whole new perspective on the city beyond the inner harbour. Their B.C.-made norco cruiser bikes are lightweight and easy to ride, while the tours are innovative and fun: "Hoppy Hour" takes you to several micro-breweries (samples included, of course) around this very bikeable city.
719 Douglas Street
It might cost you slightly more than two bits, but Victory Barbers and Brand is a modern men's barber- shop that does a great hot lather shave ($45) and houses an apothecary of local and imported men's grooming products. If there's time, celebrate your new look at Pig, a BBQ joint next door with a great pulled pork sandwich.
1315 Blanshard Street