Review: Vancouver’s Dine Out Festival a much needed boost for restaurants

Over 300 restaurants are participating in this year’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival, which runs January 14-31.ThreeSixty Photography / Document

When the Dine Out Vancouver Festival launched 20 years ago, it was conceived as an opportunity to give restaurants a boost during the gloomy January. This year, for a milestone anniversary bogged down by snowstorms and the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, that support is even more needed.

Over 300 restaurants are participating in this year’s festival, which runs Jan. 14-31 and features set menus, priced between $ 29 and $ 59. A complete list of restaurants and special events is available on the reservation platform: dineoutvancouver.com.

It’s a long list to study. And there are dozens of stand-up restaurants that I highly recommend – AnnaLena, Ancora, Boulevard, Burdock & Co, Forage, L’Abattoir, Le Crocodile, Maenam, Torafuku and Vij’s, to name a few. -a.

But if you’re looking for something a little different, or fancy trying something new, here are 10 choices that stand out as very compelling.

Carlino Restaurant and Lounge

$ 65 for five courses (dinner)

This northern Italian restaurant opened at the Shangri-La Hotel in early December, replacing the short-lived Miantiao. I usually wait at least three months before visiting a new opening – and I advise others to do the same. Why rush when the whole menu is still being tested and doomed to change? Dine Out is the exception, as new restaurants tend to go out of their way to impress. If you’re intrigued by the hearty Friulian flavors – thick jota soup (beans and sauerkraut), salads with bitter chicory, and cjarsons (dumplings stuffed with red beets) – Carlino’s five-course menu seems to be excellent value- price.

Mandarin Kirin Restaurant

Kirin’s three-course Dine Out menu, with optional wine pairings, is a rare opportunity for a more intimate meal.Handout

$ 48 for three courses (lunch or dinner)

Set menus are not the norm for Cantonese banquet restaurants. A good family style dinner requires a table of at least four (preferably eight to 10) people. So Kirin’s three-course Dine Out menu, with optional food and wine pairings, is a rare opportunity for a more intimate meal. It’s also a good deal with choices of appetizers that include chicken lobster in a cream and butter sauce or whole South African abalone braised with prickly sea cucumber and fish mouths. .

Luppolo Brewing Company

Glasses of beer line the Luppolo Brewing Company bar.DARRYL DYCK / The Globe and Mail

$ 28 for three courses (dinner)

He had me at “beeramisu”. This Italian craft brewery is one that I have been planning to visit for a long time. And not just because he brews a ripasso-style brett with second-press apricots. Apparently he’s also throwing in a great pizza, which you can order as part of the menu on the spot or take out (two pies and a four-pack for $ 50). I would choose to dine there, if only because I’m curious about what tiramisu made with beer looks like.

Vancouver Fishing Company

$ 59 for three courses (lunch or dinner)

Before visiting this Granville Island restaurant for the first time last winter, I mistakenly felt it was a tourist trap. Next, Executive Chef Summer Stuart served me the best grilled cheese sandwich (with lobster, bacon and gruyere) I have ever inhaled. Unfortunately, grilled cheese isn’t on her Dine Out menu, but her excellent tomato bisque is. And given that Ms. Stuart is one of the few chefs who goes out of its way to break down whole fish, anything you order is pretty much guaranteed to be fresh.

Max Restaurant

$ 30 for three courses (dinner)

Trend forecasters have been predicting the traditional Filipino food breakthrough for almost as long as we anticipate the arrival of a Jollibee outpost in the Metro Vancouver area (three sites of the Manila-based chain are apparently underway) . Meanwhile, Max’s Restaurant (another chain) has quietly satisfied the masses with its famous fried chicken. If you’ve never had the pleasure of a sizzling bangus (milkfish belly) or lumpiang ubod (heart of palm egg) steak, Dine Out is a good time to try something new.

Bruno

Bruno is a new farm-to-table restaurant at the Versante hotel in Richmond that goes all out.Handout

$ 29 for lunch; $ 59 for dinner (three courses)

Bruno is another (relatively) new farm-to-table restaurant at the Versante hotel in Richmond that goes all out. The Will Lew’s Dine Out menu will feature many of its signature dishes, including duck truffled with lavender, mussels in saffron cream and maple-glazed kurobuta pork belly, at excellent prices in more accessible portions. . (Duck, for example, is usually only served as a sharing platter.) If you fancy turning the night into a stay, the hotel offers special guest room rates, starting at $ 149.

Liuyishou hot pot

Liuyishou Hot Pot’s meat platters are of very high quality.Handout

$ 22 for lunch; $ 39 for dinner (three courses)

Chinese fondue has exploded in Metro Vancouver in recent years. La Liuyishou, based in Chongqing, is one of the best chains and offers great value for money. Its meat platters, in particular, are of very high quality. If you like it hot, order the Szechuan-style broth, which, for two or more, comes with a spicy beef-tallow (Alberta Angus) that melts in the pot. Interestingly, Liuyishou was the first local restaurant to pack take-out fondue when the pandemic struck, which previously seemed unlikely. The Robson Street location (the only Dine Out participant) also makes great cocktails.

The acorn

The Acorn is one of Vancouver’s best vegetarian restaurants.John Lehmann / The Globe and Mail

$ 59 for three courses (dinner)

Shira Blustein is the owner and visionary of Vancouver’s best vegetarian restaurant. Brian Luptak is the former chef and co-author of the recently published cookbook Acorn: vegetables reinvented which receives all the distinctions. But Devon Latte is the new executive chef. And after being blown away by its cuisine during a pop-up offsite dinner last summer, I am extremely looking forward to revisiting the restaurant for the full experience. The menu at Acorn’s Dine Out restaurant will include a daily main course made with the freshest ingredients from breeding and forage, which sets it apart. But there is a set of desserts – sweet dough of small spelled with quince, fig, lime curd and Nootka rose frosting – that really appeals to me.

Five sails

The panoramic views over Coal Harbor at the Five Sails Restaurant are incredible.Nora Hamade / Document

$ 59 for three courses (lunch and dinner)

The great thing about Dine Out is that it provides a low risk opportunity to try your luck at a restaurant you’re not entirely sure about. For me, it’s Five Sails at the Pan Pacific Hotel. The panoramic views over Coal Harbor are incredible (go for lunch, if you can). Pastry chef Daria Andriienko is a star in the making. The original executive chef? Meh. His classic French menu was heavy in flavor and the dishes were all weirdly deconstructed. I’m much more interested in trying the restaurant again now that Chef Robbie Robinson has taken the helm and Stefan Hartmann (formerly Bauhaus) is overseeing as the new Culinary Director of the Glowbal Group.

Arike Restaurant

Arike is a modern Nigerian restaurant that deserves to be widely acclaimed.DARRYL DYCK / The Globe and Mail

$ 59 for five courses (dinner, additional vegan menu)

I kind of feel like a loving teenage boy with a crush on silly eyes, but I’m not going to stop recommending Arike until this modern Nigerian restaurant wins the praise it deserves. Sam Olayinka is one of the city’s most innovative chefs and this gourmet five-course menu includes an aged brioche with maple butter and Berber, an explosively vibrant pineapple and carpaccio salad, a smoked grilled suya strip loin and a cassava cake with coconut mousse cheese – is my top choice of the whole festival.

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