Look beyond the macarons to find sweet and savoury gourmet delights at Bel Cafe
There's more than macarons at Bel Café, cousin to Hawksworth Restaurant in Vancouver's Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Bel Café is known for its confetti-coloured macarons, but have you tried its soul-warming soups? Or gourmet sandwiches? Or Hawksworth-worthy salads? It’s a rare find to have such a gem of a foodie haven in the heart of an urban setting. But whether you’re on your way to work or taking a respite from shopping or meeting friends for an after work nosh, Bel’s got you covered.
Pastries Plus at Bel
Bel's colourful macarons come in a wide range of flavours so you can pick the perfect pairing for your palette
Bel Café, of course, is the counterpoint to Hawksworth Restaurant, which was recently voted among Canada’s best new restaurants by both enRoute and Macleans magazines. Chef David Hawksworth lends a strong influence to the food served in Bel Café, while Pastry Chef Wayne Kozinko ensures that the sweets presented are nothing short of spectacular.
It must be stressed here that the croissants ($2.90) and other flaky pastries at Bel are truly decadent. Chef Wayne uses a special high-fat (84%) content butter imported from New Zealand for these delicacies, which ensures they puff up flaky and airy and, well... buttery.
Subjectivity aside, you can’t argue the results from high-fat butter, ever. Tip: these pastries tend to sell out quickly, especially on Fridays, so best to pick up your end-of-week reward earlier in the day. My personal favourite is the poached pear and vanilla danish ($3.50).
Bel Café's Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One ha' penny, two ha' penny, hot cross buns
Just in time for Easter, chef Wayne recently served one of the first batches of hot cross buns, which were scrumptious! Fragrant, a bit sweet, a bit egg-y, a little bit yeast-y, they were soft and plump with just the perfect amount of chew and not a dry crumb or shriveled currant in sight.
These are a holiday special and will be sold only until Easter (around $3 each), so indulge while you can.
Substantial Sandwiches and Salads
Vegetarians rejoice! Bel's marinated eggplant sandwich is succulent and satisfying
If you’re peckish and in need of a little more nourishment than a macaron can offer, take a peek at Bel's deli case. All of its deli offerings – soups, salads, sandwiches, charcuterie – are showcased behind glass, for presentation only, so you can see exactly what’s being made to order fresh in the kitchen.
For more substantial fare, its hearty sandwiches will not disappoint. My favourite is the confit Albaroe Tuna with celeriac rémoulade (that’s the fanciest tartar sauce you’ll ever have; $10.60). And vegetarians rejoice! Even the veggie option is a gourmet delight. While some places are content with putting goat cheese on top of the typical assortment of vegetables and calling it a day, at Bel Café the meat-free offering is lovingly created with as much thought and preparation as every other sandwich. The marinated eggplant sandwich with spiced chickpeas, almonds and honey gouda ($10.60) is succulent and truly satisfying.
If you can’t stay for a bite, get it to go. Everything is available for take away of course, so call ahead to place your order and have it all packed and ready for pick up. This way you’ll also avoid disappointment should your favourites sell out early that day. As it turns out, I am not the only fan of the confit tuna sandwich, and that one does tend to disappear rather quickly.
Popular items like Bel's confit tuna sandwich tend to fly off the shelves
Bel does have a pre-packaged to-go area if you want to grab something on the run, but let the photo of near-empty cases be a gentle reminder that popular items like the yummy confit tuna sandwich tend to fly off the shelves. So definitely come earlier in the day to grab your favourites before others do.
For that 3 pm sweets craving
And don’t forget a cookie treat for the afternoon! The vanilla bean shortbreads ($1.50) are particularly satisfying around 3 pm.
Licensed to Serve
While I adore the tea at Bel Café (thanks to SPOT Tea’s special blends just for Bel), now there are more fortified options for your afternoon and after-work libations. Recently licensed to serve alcohol, Bel Café is excited to offer the same extensive and impressive wine list that is available across the hall at Hawksworth. This is no small matter. Hawksworth’s resident sommelier, Terry Threlfall, was just named Sommelier of the Year by the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.
Have your after-work snacks and drinks at Bel
So while you’re over at Bel, enjoying the casual European café ambience, you can indulge in the luxury of Hawksworth-quality food and wine. While checking out the deli, I noticed a charcuterie platter of assorted meats and cheeses ($22.40) that looked like it would be the perfect accompaniment to a couple of glasses of wine and some very fine company.
Now that’s a civilized way to end your day!
Bel Cafe is located at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, corner of Howe and Georgia Streets.