Side Dish

Oh, Canada!

Side Dish lived in the style to which we would like to become accustomed on a recent press junket to Vancouver, B.C. The Powers That Exist to Encourage Tourism put us up in a suite at the swell Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, where we baited insane seagulls at the window with cookies from the generously provided welcome platter and tried to get otherwise very accommodating staff to open up the pool in the middle of the night. We lunched with a nice Fairmont lady at the fancy restaurant in the lobby, 900 West (900 W. Georgia, 604-669-WEST); the mushroom velouté ¡nd risotto cakes were lovely, and, even better, our new friend's father was an actual Mountie and her first few years of school in some far-flung spot were conducted in the local native language. She also told tales of tapping trees in wintery forests to make real maple syrup and collecting the bucketloads on a cart drawn by Clydesdales. It doesn't get much more Canadian than that. We were further romanced with a press dinner at the burning-hot spot Lumiè²¥ (2551 W. Broadway, 604-739-8185) (co-hosted by Hastings House Country Inn), which featured fancy little plates of luminous food (the sablefish, a species formerly known as black cod but renamed in a dual coup of taxonomy and marketing, was fantastic) and a B.C. vs. Washington wine-off that left the pleasantly blurry impression that vintners in the region as a whole are doing a bang-up job. For those dining on their own dime, there's a menu of dishes for about U.S. $8 available in the bar, which is exceptionally sleek and frequented by actual Hollywood stars. A lunch at the much-touted, unassuming Phnom Penh (244 E. Georgia, 604-682-5777) in Chinatown (a good neighborhood to pick up some 222s) was just fine; the garlic squid is great. You would do well, however, to save your seafood monies for a trip to Tojo's (777 W. Broadway #202, 604-872-8050); Side Dish ventured to the vaunted sushi place despite one local's opining it was so expensive, they were waiting for someone rich to take them. Tojo himself was sadly absent, but the other sushi chefs are ready to snatch the pebble from his hand; this is food that makes you so high, you don't even care when the equally high bill comes, which the favorable exchange rate barely dents. Some say this is the best sushi in the Americas, and we're with them, eating plain rice and saving up to go back.

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