Dine-out Vancouver Frenzy – Where to chow down?

Stephanie Yuen (Chinese posting: http://taiyangbao.ca/author/stephanieyuen/?variant=zh-hans)

Dine Out Vancouver, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                      January 18 to Feb www.dineoutvancouver.com                                                                                                                                                               

Coast - Thai Style Salmon Tartar

      With 240 restaurants to choose from, it’s impossible to try even 10% of the offered dine-out menus over 17 days, no matter how hard you attempt. Quite difficult for anyone to lay out a strategic plan when there are restaurants booked solidly even before the Dine-out begins. Frown no more, to make sure you’re in the game, let your fingers do the walking first! Checking who the players are this year online is a must - it provides good information about the restaurant. Please do take a look at the dine-out menus of those restaurants you're interested in to see if they appeal to you before reserving a table – after all, you’re going there to eat, right?

Quite a few restaurants offer ‘Extra’ side-dishes to compliment your meal, they’re worth paying attention to; some are simply great for sharing!

Please do take a look at the wine-pairing suggestions too when you get there, the boss/wine guy/bartender/sommelier always do a fantastic job serenading to our own BC wines nicely while enhancing your dining pleasure.

I would start with the $18-dollar ones. Why not if you can go and have a great time with a yummy 3-course dinner for $18? Of course you cannot compare the $18 restaurants to the $28 or the $38 groups and expect the same ambiance, service and décor. Just bear in mind they are different dining experiencex and styles of cooking, yet it no way means you’ll enjoy less at the $18-menu establishments.

My top picks are:

Bistro 101 (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts): One of your friends or their kids may be cooking in the kitchen of this renowned culinary school with a comfortable restaurant that has been serving awesome meals and pastries!

Fish Shack: Freshness all the way - definitely a great place for sharing and trying every thing on the menu.

Judas Goat Taberna: Fun ambiance, homey food and a unique room.

Fresh (Surrey): Don’t overlook the effort and chef power of the suburbanites who embrace local farmers and produce while doing a great job with it.

Wild Rice (New Westminster River Market): A lovely open-concept dining room with a view. Good excuse to go and explore the handsome boardwalk.

The $28 category:

There are lots of hidden gems and big names here. For those who are comfy with the mid-range price tag or diners fidgeting with the fine-dining mode, promise you’ll find lovely restaurants that offer excellent menu choices in this category.

Forage – Unassuming but cozy dining room, hearty yet creative dishes and beautiful pasta. One of you has to order the crispy skin Pork Belly.

Café Pacifica – Pan Pacific Hotel’s glorious view and impeccable service is good enough luring factor.

Pastis – At $28, the 3-course dinner is a steal.

Sylvia Hotel – Three words: historic, nostalgic, ocean view.

Campagnolo – Casual comfort Italian food – my favourite place for thin-crust pizza and salad.

Forage - Silky, creamy clam chowder with a quail egg  Forage - Crispy skin pork belly

Cafe Pacifica - A sample of dessert

The $38 category:

Come on, indulge yourself; take your parents, go with your buddies, colleagues; go taste some of the best restaurants in Vancouver. 3-course set-menus do not mean they’re not for sharing. Steak lovers beware, there are renowned steak houses in this category!

Black & Blue – Find out what ‘Blue ribbon’ beef is, you’ll be impressed! Make sure you try the Crispy Jalapeno creamed corn.

5 Sails – If you can enjoy a masterfully prepared meal in this gorgeous room for $38, you’ve captured the spirit of ‘Dine-out’!

Coast – Seafood prepared just right.

Joe Forte – Have not been yet? What’re you waiting for?

Yew – Definitely one of the best hotel restaurants in town.

Grilled Alberta Beef Oscar Style - Coast