Baru Latino canoe, Tim Pawsey photo

Baru Latino: Dine Out is about the undiscovered

Dine Out’s $28 category is the most hotly contested, with some 133 options—of which quite a few are chains—though worth checking out. What you won’t find mentioned below are restos who seem to have a tough time charging moderately for wines, or for, whatever reason, are still oblivious to the very notion of Ocean Wise. (On the other hand, kudos to those who make a point of mentioning it, such as Burnaby’s EBO). Nor will you find restos who use “add-ons” to get around the pricing tier. ‘Nuff said.

(Find this year’s $18 deals here / $38 menus here)

Dine Out MIA: Chinese cuisine

Yet again this year, it’s disappointing to note the almost complete lack of Chinese cuisine (even though you will find a handful of good offerings—from Kirin, Bambuddah and The Change) in Dine Out’s $38 menu section). In a city with so much extraordinary Chinese food to be found, you’d think there’d be all kinds of interest in reaching out to a new clientele, but apparently not. No doubt this stems from the fact that to participate in Dine Out you have to be a member of Tourism Vancouver. I’m not sure what it is that Chinese restaurants find so unappealing about joining with their peers to promote Vancouver. But it’s too bad—and a real loss that the vast majority apparently choose not to play.

(Updated, Jan 14, 2015: I had a chat last night with my good friend Stephanie Yuen, who’s well acquainted with the Chinese dining scene in Vancouver. She notes that Dine Out’s timing is awkward because it conflicts with the Lunar New Year—already the busiest time of the year for Chinese rooms. She agrees it would be worthwhile if more Chinese rooms were involved with Tourism Vancouver but feels the issue results primarily from poor communications.)

Worth the trip

With a couple of exceptions, these picks focus on smaller, neighbourhood haunts—and hopefully that really does reinforce what the original intention of Dine Out was all about: helping people discover new tastes—and maybe even venturing a little further afield in order to do so. Interesting to note, there are two Deep Cove entries here, both worthy.

They also reflect how Dine Out has evolved in the last few years.  As  alluded to in my $18 list you won’t find any restos here who haven’t / couldn’t be bothered to include any wine pairings in their on-line menu. As I said, it’s all part of the Dine Out Deal—to introduce people to some new tastes and maybe to get them to try some wine pairings. That newcomer (who may be cautious) is a whole lot more likely to commit if you tell them what they can taste and how much it will cost. Because cost, after all, is a fundamental element of Dine Out.

 

The $28 list …

The Abbey

I had a chance to sample several tastes at Andrey Durbach and Chris Stewart’s excellent ‘progressive pub’, which does indeed qualify as a gastropub, as part of the media preview. Dishes that impressed (well, they all did…) range from the pumpkin and Mascarpone ravioli to a superb (and substantial) cassoulet. The selection is wide ranging with a few add ons such as $10 pp. for the bone-in prime rib—delicious!

Arms Reach Bistro

Truly inventive fare and smartly paired wines in a scenic setting. Worth the trip.

Baru Latino

This west side backwater is a rarity. South American specialties well served in a fun setting. (Hired Belly review)

 

Carthage Café cous-cous and mussels, Tim Pawsey photo

Carthage Café: delicious French and Moroccan tastes in an unabashedly romantic setting

Carthage Café

This is a great little haunt on Commercial Drive. Read my review here.

Cork & Fin

Another somewhat under the radar player, this Gastown room has a well earned rep. for good seafood with smart wine pairings. I also like their ‘savoury’ approach, with dessert as an optional add-on.

 

Edible Canada's Eric Patemen

Edible Canada’s Eric Pateman. His Granville Island bistro is the quintessential Vancouver destination room. TP photo

Edible Canada

Doggedly tracked down Canadian fare (you mean you haven’t tried Merrit Yak?), savvy service and well thought out pairings.

In fact, “It’s one of our best DOV menus to date,” says owner Eric Pateman.

“Not only does it showcase the best of BC’s local artisans, farmers, suppliers, products and seasonal fare, but we’ve proudly partnered with Okanagan Crush Pad, one of BC’s foremost wineries, to deliver a line up of wines that complement our cuisine perfectly.”

Fishworks

Always innovative and adventuresome seafood on the North Shore, with some solid and equally inventive wine pairings.

 

Tap & Barrel Olympic Village, Tim Pawsey photo

Tap & Barrel Olympic Village, Tim Pawsey photo

Tap & Barrel Olympic Village / Coal Harbour

There’s plenty of thought behind this menu, good pairings and plenty of vegetarian options.

Ten Ten Tapas

Smart little room on the False Creek seawall north with the added appeal of free live music Thurs through Sat evenings.

The Village Table (Deep Cove)

Another reason to head out Dollarton highway: one of a few Dine Out lunch menus ($18), as well as Gluten Free and strong vegetarian choices.

 

(Find this year’s $18 deals here / $38 menus here)