Tiffin Project

Ten Top Tastes: Hired Belly’s Best $38 Dine Out Vancouver Menus

by Tim Pawsey on January 21, 2013

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I’ve been doing a little soul searching on my decision to exclude restos who omit to show BC VQA wine pairings on their DoV website menu listings. But in the end I’ve decided it’s perfectly appropriate not to highlight them, regardless as to how good the plates look. (Our selection criteria are here…)

Dine Out actually costs cold cash and labour to stage, whether it’s in terms of promotions (companies pay for sponsorship), the monumental effort by Tourism Vancouver, or a considerable amount of work (often stressful) for staff at the restaurants themselves. I guess it’s for these reasons that I do feel strongly about supporting those who truly do embrace the spirit of Dine Out at every level. And that includes giving the customer as much information as possible in order to make their choice.

Then again, from the restaurant’s point of view, why wouldn’t you want to offer as tempting a scenario as possible—and underscore your cut-above professionalism by having your sommelier take a few minutes to come up with some smart BC VQA pairings and work with a responsive wine agent to make it happen.

Quite a few restos indicate the size of pour—kudos to them. But noticeably absent this year (with a few exceptions) is what the optional flight of wines will cost you. In previous years that’s occasionally been a bit of a challenge, as a few were off-loading their dine out discounts with some hefty by the glass pricing.

It’s worth a phone call to the restaurant—especially at the $38 level—to make sure those three ounce pours are fairly priced. As for BYOB during Dine Out? Probably not a good idea. But, as always, it’s up to the restaurant.

Yes, this list is somewhat subjective. And we know there may be omissions. In fact there are omissions—as a rule we also haven’t included places that have too many extra charges for “special” menu items.

Here are our ten $38 picks …

L’Abattoir – Certainly one of the more inventive menus (we’re tempted by the schnitzel with Tantalus Pinot Noir), with good wine matches, plus a good buzz in a fun room. Go early and treat yourself to a fine cocktail.

 Bacchus Restaurant – One of the most appealing and well-planned menus, with some seriously tempting tastes and good wine matches. Mix in the service and the surroundings and it’s the Real Deal. We’d also be tempted by the hotel package…

Brix – Our experiences have always been good. The menu is thoughtful and the wine pairings are intelligent. Besides they have one of the best Riesling lineups in the city. You could go here and order anything you want to put in your glass to suit your budget.

 C Restaurant – Dine Out is all about being able to experience ‘special occasion’ restos (of which C is certainly one) with a bit of a break. Strong local focus (one of the best)with good Gluten Free and Vegetarian choices and wines to match. Our advice is to try to avoid the likely crazy late-in-the-week nights. Hopefully C will continue its support of worthy local initiatives, even though Robert Clark has moved on.

Don Francesco – Old School Italian and somewhat of a sentimental favourite. Good portion sizes and well documented wine pairings. Reasonable prices.

Federico’s Supper Club – Winner of last year’s Best Bite Award. A formidable list of choices and quite the overall experience. Book quickly to get in. Sketchy on the wine detes but at least they acknowledge it.

Hamilton Street Grill – Offers both $38 and $28 menus. See our comments here.

Hart House – We wavered a bit because of the up-charge on the sous-vide but relented.  A varied menu with good pairings—and a vegetarian option.

Kirin – The shortage of Chinese restos participating in Dine Out is quite shocking, given Vancouver’s rep for great Chinese dining. One main reason, we know, is that you need to be a member of Tourism Vancouver to participate—although that doesn’t explain the absence of Sun Sui Wah, Floata etc. Our hunch is that Kirin would be worth it. And yes, you can drink CedarCreek Gewurz with just about anything …

Provence Mediterranean – An excellent line-up (Honey Mussel soup with watercress cream and harissa oil has me drooling) with good pairings, plus we like the Ocean Wise options. Also a $28 lunch menu.

~ Tim Pawsey

*Article originally published at HiredBelly.com

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