CityProfile: Vancouver

Dear Friends & Readers

I have never been to Canada. It is not because I don’t want to, I just never planned a trip there.  I love Canadians, though: they are friendly, genuine and enjoy life. At least the Canadians I know! Meet my Canadian friend Lindsay Cameron, who lives in New York with her husband Gordon and two happy and beautiful children. Lindsay is one of those women who are blessed with the beauty/brains combo and is also lovely and nice, which makes her quite unique. You wouldn’t tell by looking at her waistline and long legs but Lindsay is quite a foodie and is not afraid of indulging in the occasional lobster or steak.  So when we talked about a Cityprofile for Vancouver, her hometown, I knew she would deliver some fun and tasty suggestions.  Without further ado, I leave the screen to Lindsay Cameron…

Welcome to Vancouver, Canada’s temperate and beautiful jewel of a city.  Nestled on the Westcoast among ocean inlets and mountains, Vancouver has a very good restaurant scene.  While gone are the days of the cheap Canadian dollar, you can at least enjoy spending your hard earned “loonies” (Canadian for dollars) with an incredible variety of fusion fare in this town that has one foot in Asia.

Caught up in Olympic fever around 2010, Vancouver was invaded by a few New York celebrity chefs: Daniel Boulud (recently closed) and Jean George Vongerichten  (still hanging on) but we say leave the New York for New York and enjoy some local fare.  Any guide book will list the top ten restaurants, all which are great, but I will mention my two favorites.

While the wait times rival any New York hot spot, you can’t go wrong with Vij’s. This Indian fusion restaurant has kept them coming back since 1994.  It’s a 10 minute cab ride from the downtown core, so go early and not hungry as reservations are not taken.  Order a drink at the bar/lounge while you wait and try the lamb popsicles.

Another winner is Provence Marinaside, in the uber trendy Yaletown area.  Enjoy Pacific Ocean seafood prepared as if it was hauled out of the Mediterranean while you watch people stroll along the seawall.  Was that a Vancouver Canuck hockey player you just saw walk by? Probably.  If you have trouble getting a reservation, locals know the original Provence is a 20 minute cab ride from downtown in the quiet Point Grey neighborhood.  The food is equally superb, but the atmosphere can be a little sleepy.

As for drinks, it all depends on the weather.  Is it sunny?  Hit a patio, of which there are plenty.  Granville Island is a mecca for outdoor drinking and eating, including Bridges, perhaps the city’s best patio, and the Sandbar, known for its cocktails, wines and seafood.  Feast on local prawns, scallops and sablefish with a lively atmosphere, water views, heated patio and tasty drinks.

That said, as all Vancouverites know, it will likely rain at least one of the days you visit, so put on your Taiga jacket (Vancouver’s lesser known contribution to the world of fashion that is as ubiquitous to Vancouver fashion as lululemon yoga pants) and head down to Gastown.  Founded by “Gassy Jack” Deighton, you can ask a resident how he got his name.  Not far from where his statute stands, you can hit the Irish Heather Gastropub for a pint and comfort food, which is actually three restaurants/bars in one.  In the back is Shebeen Whiskey bar – as fine a collection of single malts, Canadian and American whiskey as you will find.

If you have a sweet tooth, stop by Purdys Chocolates, Vancouver’s best chocolate shop.  Try the Sweet Georgia Browns – you won’t be disappointed!

When you’ve seen the downtown sights, take a 30 minute cab ride to Grouse Mountain for a must see view of Vancouver.  If you’re feeling adventerous (and fit) there is a hiking trail to the top called the “Grouse Grind.”  They aren’t just throwing the word “grind” around – it is.  Picture sixty minutes on the stairclimber at a high setting.  If that’s not for you, enjoy the view from a glass enclosed gondola.

Once at the top, enjoy a true Canadian delacacy – a beaver tail.  A pastry served piping hot with butter and your choice of delectable topings (my favorite is the nutella).  Indulgent, but if you’ve done the Grind, you deserve it.  And President Obama had one when he was in Canada so you’re in good company.