This is your indispensable companion to all that is delicious in Vancouver right now
Food has taken on such an important role throughout these COVID times. This stress and sadness call for serious self-care—and what could be better than a nourishing meal?
But concern over the viability of our hospitality industry has been through the roof. In the past few days, restaurants have been gradually starting to open up across B.C., and with summer coming, I think it’s going to be relatively easy for us to explore ‘the new normal’ on sun-soaked patios and inside restaurants that are taking a safe and thoughtful approach to opening up.
So remember: don’t be an asshole. Servers and kitchen crew will be anxious for your safety and theirs. This is brand new for us all, so leave your entitled behaviour at home and tip like a champ.
Grab your mask and some napkins, 'cause it’s messy out there…
1. Be a good human at Chambar
I’ve had so many emails about restaurants that are reopening and one which really caused me pause to think was from Chambar, asking: What is a safe trusted space?
Chambar is reopening with an impressive array of safety protocols in place (check 'em out here), but I wanted to salute them for what they did throughout closure, launching the Food Coalition which to date has raised over $200,000 and delivered over 20,000 meals—of which more than 18,000 were to seniors which allowed them to safely stay home.
I like that Chambar’s reopening is upfront about the need for honesty from diners and staff alike, asking us to commit to a ‘good human pledge’ to be a responsible, considerate person so they can try their best to make sure that Chambar is a safe, trusted space for all, saying that the "restaurant industry will only survive if we are safe together."
2. Shop, sip & shop with ¿CóMO?
I truly adore this innovative pop-up from the team at ¿CóMO? Taperia. Meet ¿CóMO? Chico your new neighbourhood tapas bar and market where sipping and shopping is positively encouraged. Inspired by mercados in Barcelona and Madrid, Chico is a one-stop shop, eat, and drink establishment where you can enjoy prepared tapas, such as bocadillos, cold octopus salad, boquerones, and olives, tinned conservas; light and crushable wines, sherry, vermouth, gin and tonics, and sangria on-tap; and stock up your larder with treats from Spain such as: premium olive oil, piquillo peppers and Spanish rice, plus all wines for takeout are 30 to 50 percent off regular restaurant prices. Soak up the sun on the socially distanced patio with wine barrels to enjoy that stand-up bar feeling or take a seat inside. Full sanitizing protocols will be in place and they’re open from Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 7 p.m.
3. Bring the Keefer Bar experience home
Holy cow, this is a great idea! The peerless Keefer Bar is offering cocktail kits for pick-up (with noodles, law-makers!). Bag one of their all-time classics, such as the Rosemary Gimlet or Buffalo Soldier, treat yo’ self to some sexy bar tools kit, buy garnishes, syrups and even ice blocks to elevate that at-home cocktail hour, and (wonder of wonders!) score a bag of Bao Bei dumplings at the same time. Pick-ups Tuesdays and Fridays (order online, but browse that tempting site with caution, I basically wanted everything!).
4. Awesome delivery company PSA
I do love the innovative and affordable ways that restaurants in the city are whipping up to keep the lights on. Check out Legends Haul who have partnered up with some of the best spots in the city, such as Kissa Tanto, Boulevard, Maenam and Medina Cafe, to offer dishes such as chicken cacciatore, salted caramel waffles and Maui beef shortribs, in handy heat-and-eat packs for home dining. They also offer lashings of keto, plant-based, gluten-free and organic store cupboard treats, meats and seafood. Orders in the Lower Mainland placed by 2 p.m. can receive next-day delivery.
5. Eat all the incredible seafood with Organic Ocean
I’ve been a huge fan of the crew at Organic Ocean for some time, so it’s great to see that they are offering up super-sustainable seafood boxes so you can enjoy their ultra-fresh catches at home. They have a variety of boxes available, but I’m crushing hard on the Locals Only edition of their B.C. Coast pack, which has 14 portions in total, including: 4 pieces of wild B.C. lingcod, 4 pieces of wild B.C. halibut, 2 pieces of hook-and-line-caught Haidacore™ Tuna Loin and 4 pieces of wild B.C. rockfish for just $129.20 (which also includes a food donation for two meals for people in the community who currently need assistance).
6. Find Love at First Lick at Soft Peaks
Soft Peaks’ killer original organic soft serve with pink Himalayan salt was my gateway to becoming totally obsessed with salting ice cream (My current favourite? Philly-style home-made vanilla and bourbon with alder-smoked salt), so I’m psyched to hear they’re reopening in Gastown and Burnaby from Friday to Sunday, 2 to 7 p.m. for contactless takeout only. Make your day instantly better and go grab a cone.
7. Two Rivers meats box frenzy
Supporting butchers who work with high-quality, pasture-raised animals from ranchers who follow sustainable GMO- and antibiotics-free farming practices is more important now than ever. Enter Two Rivers who are offering a tempting range of curbside pick-up frozen meat boxes from their HQ in North Van. Options range from chicken or burger-only boxes to essentials packs and a BBQ-ready grill box (pictured). Place your order online and it will be available the following business day between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.
8. Dumplings! Noodles! Veggies! HARVEST!
You can pre-order a weekly supply of seasonal, fresh local veggies and in-season treats, such as dried organic fruit with Harvest’s CSA (community-supported agriculture) box. Unlike most CSAs, you don’t need to sign up for the season; you can just have it as a one-off if you like. Sized for two and only $38, produce bags are available for pick up every Thursday between 4 and 8 p.m. or on Friday between 3 and 7 p.m. While you’re ordering online, add on some treats such as the house-made bone broth, a pizza kit or mushroom dashi broth. Oh! And Harvest’s full noodle menu is also available for takeout or delivery through DoorDash (heads up, they serve some of the best ramen in the city!).
9. Shake it up with some of Vancouver’s best bartenders
We’re drinking a lot more, right? Yeah. I know it’s not just me... so why not learn from some of the masters and make at-home happy hour a little mo’ fancy than just a big ol’ beaker of gin ‘n’ tears. I’ve been loving the Botanist’s Max Curzon-Price’s Lockdown Luau on Instagram (pictured) where he shakes up tiki drinks and shares tips and tricks. You can catch World Class winner Kaitlyn Stewart on YouTube with her like-a-ble Cocktails by Kaitlyn channel (check out the One Bottle Bartender vids to maximize your cocktail potential). And definitely follow Matt Benevoli on Facebook or his Insta as he’s been making delicious daily cocktail; I really want his Stargazer, which uses edible Luster Dust and looks incredible!
10. Devour lamb popsicles on Vij’s patio
Vij’s and Rangoli have been doing champion work for takeout, and they’ll continue to be available seven days a week. But they’re combining forces to open from Wednesday to Sunday for lunch on the covered roof top patio at Vij’s on Cambie, and also dinner on the patio plus inside in the physically distanced dining room. Reservations are accepted, but they’ll happily try to fit you in if there’s a table if you're a walk-up customer. Chef Meeru Dhalwala tells me: “Rangoli's menu has been incorporated into both lunch and dinner at Vij's so all sorts of options in different price range are available. We now offer the Rangoli tamarind marinated grilled chicken and the Vij's lamb popsicles on the same menu!”