Cannibal Café Vancouver burger

Dine Out at Cannibal Café …

Dine Out is here again already? Boy, how this little post-holiday, pre-tax time doldrums promo has grown in its 13 years.

What used to be purely a discount dinner fest has blossomed into a metro-wide food and wine celebration that truly reflects a level of diversity and sophistication that we now take for granted. Take the special events program (better book fast if you’re interested…).

From secret supper destinations to savvy cocktails and beer bites to go with Vancouver’s wicked craft scene,  Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Festival represents a wealth of indulgent opportunities.

As in the past, I’m tossing my hat into the ring with a few picks—places that I think a worthy of attention. Some (most) I’ve been to, others not. As time goes on I may expand these with a few more.

Because I’m allowed to be grumpy at times, as a rule I usually don’t mention any resto that can’t be bothered to include wine pairings with their menu. Why so picky?  Because I want to focus on the chefs and sommeliers who do it well, and who take the time to go the extra mile. For me it’s all part of the Dine Out mantra, to introduce people to some new tastes and maybe to get them to dabble in some wine pairings to see how it’s done. And, again, it underscores the more sophisticated scene.

All those are reasons for Wines of BC’s involvement, which just makes sense. From the restaurant’s side it’s a good opportunity to have some fun with some truly local flavours—both on the plate and in the glass. Like I said, it’s now part of who we are, as we continue to build our own food and wine culture.

However, the $18 three course menus don’t necessarily lend themselves to wine pairing. Or, there could be some local brews on tap that work just as well, so I’m letting it go, at least at this level…

 

Dine Out: The absolute deals

The $18 three course menus used to embody the very nature of Dine Out—and in most cases they still do: a way to save some serious dollars, have a decent bite and hopefully discover some new tastes along the way.

Interestingly, though, in recent years, (if you count the multi branch outfits each as one) the number of Dine Out players at $18 has shrunk. That’s not to say the deals aren’t there. But do your research, especially if you want a glass of wine. Just sayin’…

The Bayside Lounge

Possibly the one surviving, truly authentic 80s bar in the city. A fun spot and some truly inventive bites. Some serious eats. I’m in for the pork tenderloin stuffed with walnut and goat cheese, drizzled in a mushroom demi sauce with Moon Curser Syrah… Oh, and did I mention their drinks specials? And the wine is fairly priced.

Think ‘Cheers!’ and you won’t be far off.

 

The Cannibal Café

Beautiful burger mayhem like you’ve never seen before. Plus amazing desserts and a great, friendly scene. Plenty of good value, for sure.

 

The Irish Heather Gastro Pub

Two words: ‘Vegan Haggis’… (Burns must be turning in his grave!). Their Long Table series is tantamount to Dine Out year round… so I’m betting this menu is more than worthy.

 

Memphis Blues BBQ

Serious meat-lovers destination. And even though they don’t say it (hmmm), I know there is Riesling to be had. Ribs ‘n Riesling? What more could you want?

 

Las Margaritas

One of the original Mexican rooms, with some fun pairings to try out.

 

Burnaby Mountain Club House

Haven’t been there. Don’t know it. But it’s here because this menu is what precisely Dine Out is all about.  Full-on value, with some serious entrées, properly paired with some (hopefully) affordable wines.

Book me in for the Butternut Squash soup with cajun crispy chickpea & basil cream (Red Rooster Chardonnay), the 8 oz. cerified Angus New York steak with yukon gold roasted garlic mash (Red Rooster Merlot), and Apple Crumble in a jar, with granny smith apple, vanilla ice-cream (Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Kerner Icewine, $10).

 

The last word: Tip

Don’t be cheap. If you get good service, show your appreciation.

 

Check back here in the next few days for the $28 and $38 menu picks. (Or have a look at last year’s.) Oh, and in case for some inexplicable reason you haven’t yet found it, The Dine Out site is here