The St. Regis sign: a renewed downtown Vancouver beacon of hospitality, Tim Pawsey photo

Recently we broke bread (and sipped some excellent ’05 Burrowing Owl Cab) with Jeremy Roncoroni.  He’s the dynamo behind Vancouver’s St. Regis Hotel (602 Dunsmuir St., 604-681-1135), who’s been busy turning that property into one of the city’s most successful boutique business properties. How successful? You should check out what guests are saying on TripAdvisor.

Before Roncoroni formed his consulting company and signed on to the St. Regis reincarnation (completed in 2008) as General Manager, he was GM of the Metropolitan Hotel, just a couple of blocks away. (Check out the St. Regis’ colourful history here.)

The spruced up, copper and wood trimmed interior still sports a distinctly pubby feel, Tim Pawsey photo

As we worked our way through some pretty tasty items on the St. Regis Bar and Grill’s new menu (thankfully Roncoroni has the good taste to not label it a ‘grill-E’), he talked about his all inclusive approach to hotel pricing.

One thing that irritates him (and us) immensely is the habit some hotels have of gouging guests for internet use and long distance. Solution? Roncoroni has introduced free VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calling to anywhere in the world.

Makes sense to us. We’ve been using Skype for years.

Value priced, almost meal sized pulled pork sliders, Tim Pawsey photo

That value is mirrored in the new pub menu. Go for the trio of mini Yorkshire puddings ($11), or the pulled pork sliders ($12). The $10.95 lunch special’s a good deal too.

Pub food can be a real challenge, especially in Vancouver, where the very notion of a pub has become quite diluted. But these plates—grounded in flavour packed, traditional ingredients and recipes—are perfect for this locale.

Sometimes the background as to how things wind up on this screen we still call a page can be quite amusing. We headed back a few days later, to take some shots for our Courier column—always a tricky thing when it involves real people. Even though the staff are usually only too pleased to help, the customer may not be quite so understanding.

We had everything set up, so that as the food runner came up from the kitchen she’d pause for a few seconds while I grabbed a couple of shots.

No stopping here ...

First time around, no dice. The customer really didn’t appreciate his fish ‘n chips cooling for one nanosecond. And told us…Result: a tad blurry.

Second time around.  Well, at least it’s in focus….

Fish 'n chips en route, Tim Pawsey photo

As much as decent and affordable plates, a good pub lives or dies on its service, which here is eminently polished and friendly. Throw good pints and fairly priced wines into the mix and you can see why this reborn downtowner’s a winner.

Gwen brings hearty rib-eyes with addictive truffle Parmesan frites: genuinely friendly service completes the picture, Tim Pawsey photo