Your guide to the latest mouth-watering food and drinks in Vancouver this month

Your guide to the latest mouth-watering food and drinks in Vancouver this month

Buckle up, Vancouver. The rain is here and we have months of non-stop gloom, boots and that weird ‘wet dogs and regret’ smell on the Skytrain to look forward to. That, and all the delicious things that there are to eat and drink. After all, we’ll need to seek comfort from somewhere as we all get used to that seasonal shift from Sunshine Summer City into Raincover.

Here’s everything I think you need to be getting into over the next month. As always, bring a stack of napkins 'cause it’s gonna get messy...

Cheers to Canada’s restaurant champs

Cheers to Canada’s restaurant champs

The big news this month is that Kissa Tanto romped home with the number one spot in enRoute’s annual best new restaurant awards, and Salvio Volpe scored a place in the top 10 too. Massive congrats to everyone involvedyou’ve made us all proud. I’m guessing that reservations will be hellish to score now, but persist. See why everyone’s been raving about them both since they first opened their doors.

Eat the insanely wonderful lechon at Bao Down Snack Bar

Eat the insanely wonderful lechon at Bao Down Snack Bar

Oh damn. Gastown just got approximately 93 per cent more delicious thanks to the Bao Down Snack Bar opening up in the old Cork & Fin space. The room has had a total transformation: all funky murals, reclaimed wood walls and a seriously beautiful resin and wood table in the front window. On the menu, Filipino-inspired tapas, including their rightly famous sweet and fluffy bao buns, and a serious showstopper of a pork dish.

Lechon is essentially rolled up pork belly wrapped in a hoop of fork-shatteringly wonderful crackling—and not just any pork, this is a glorious fatty melting delight of a porker. Served with a swirl of jammy sweetness from a palm-sugar-and-seared-pork-liver sauce, it all adds up to one of the most terrific late-night snacks or decadent lunches you’re ever likely to have. Add in a very cool cocktail list packed with Filippino spirits, pandan, house-made mango syrups, plus the traditional Bao Down '90s hip-hop soundtrack and it looks like you have just found your new favourite hang-out which even does weekend brunch.

Drink Odd Society barrel-aged vermouth

Drink Odd Society barrel-aged vermouth

Some of the most marvelous things result by chance. Consider for instance the Slinky, which was meant to help keep sensitive instruments onboard ships falling over, but became everyone’s favourite pointless stair-toy instead. So too, Odd Society's barrel-aged vermouth was a happy accident with some vermouth left over from a bottling.

"It was the bottom of the tank and was murky with botanicals," distiller Gordon Glanz told me. ‘We talked about dumping it but said that was a waste, so we filtered it into an empty bourbon barrel. Almost exactly one year later we saw the barrel and said, 'hey, there's that vermouth, we should try it."

And lo and behold—wonderful things emerged. So wonderful in fact that this terrific limited release scored a double gold medal at the 2016 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition. It’s a phenomenal drink: all warm, rounded flavours with softer edges than the non-barrel aged variety. Try it with a splash of soda water on ice to taste the bittersweet blend of 25 botanicals including local arbutus bark or mix it with a West Coast-style gin (I loved it best with Stump) for a seriously B.C. booze-forward, aromatic martini.

Start getting excited about...
Credit: Sean Neild

Start getting excited about...

Check out the city’s first Ocean Wise poke shop, The Poke Guy, an all-Hawaiian crew at 420 Richards Street who are making probably the most authentic bowl in the city—even the salt that they use is Hawaiian! It's marinated to perfection and 100 per cent sustainable.

The awesome folks from Whistler’s Mexican Corner are coming to town! First with La Cantina, a quick serve taco and burrito bar, featuring authentic Mexican street food in early 2017 at Nelson and Granville, and then next summer Calavera, a modern Mexican cuisine and mezcal bar at 16th and Main.

Brace! There’s another Bao Down coming to Commercial next to Marcello’s on Commercial at some point in November.

The tasty rumour that JC Poirier (Pourhouse, Pizzeria Farina and Ask For Luigi) had plans to delve into his French-Canadian culinary roots and open up something to reflect that has been floating around for a while. Hurrah then that it’s true! St. Lawrence will be opening up in the old Big Lou’s Butcher Shop space on Powell Street next year. More on that (oh, so much more) when it happens.

Making a seasonal shift for the first time, Reflections at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia will transform into a festive winter terrace just in time for the holidays. Set to open on November 24th, I’m told that the winter terrace will be "outfitted with cozy holiday decor and will feature a menu inspired by signature holiday dishes."

Hurrah! Cream puff hero, Sweet Boy, aka Chams Sbouai, who spent the summer turning East Van into raving cream puff fans from his choux pastry-packed bike cart, will be moving into 721 Gore Avenue, for a six-month residency.

Eat like it’s the '80s at Thai House restaurant

Eat like it’s the '80s at Thai House restaurant

Celebrating 30 years in business, the Thai House restaurant group is reintroducing menu pricing from 1986 throughout the whole month of November. The 30th anniversary menu highlights the most popular dishes throughout the past three decades. The tasting menu ($30 for two) includes: Thai vegetarian spring rolls; Tom Yum Goong, a spicy and sour noodle soup with tiger prawns, mushrooms, lemongrass and Thai spices; chicken with green curry, fresh basil, eggplant, bell peppers and coconut milk; chicken stir-fried with mixed vegetables and cashew nuts, and steamed rice.

Sip Forty Creek Copper Pot whisky cocktails

Sip Forty Creek Copper Pot whisky cocktails

I sampled some of Forty Creek’s Canadian whisky earlier in the summer and mentally noted that the Copper Pot variety would be just the thing for fall. Well, here we are, so I asked Justin Taylor over at the Cascade Room, one of my favourite bartenders in the city, for his take.

“Copper Pot is a step above many Canadian whiskies. The longer aging and higher alcohol content (ABV) not only increases the depth and flavour, it increases the versatility it has in cocktail making. A higher ABV lends to a stronger, sharper bite when mixed with different liqueurs. It remains a dominant flavour, where many whiskies can almost disappear when mixed. The tremendous amount of spice is mellowed slightly with a mild orange finish.

"For me, this whisky is right up there with the most celebrated ryes north and south of the border. Sipping it over the rocks is truly the best way to enjoy it, but if you are going to mix it up, I’d suggest the Black Walnut Manhattan which will be on our menu for Movember. It features Forty Creek Copper Pot with Punt e Mes Sweet Vermouth and Fees Black Walnut Bitters."

Pig out at Boulevard

Pig out at Boulevard

Partly because I like the name, but mostly 'cause it’s going to be incredibly good, all hail Boulevard’s Pig and Pinot Sunday Supper Series running on November 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th. On the menu, an all-inclusive nose-to-tail evening of all things pigfrom pork belly porchetta, confit and glazed pig’s head, chipotle-spiced pig’s tails and crunchy pig’s ears with sides, dessert and a Pinot Gris reception from Cedar Creek winery. Tickets are $52 per person plus tax and gratuity ($82 with wine pairings); two-guest minimum, available online.

Sounding the ‘hella sexy wine dinner’ alert

Sounding the ‘hella sexy wine dinner’ alert

Join Forage and Gene Covert (pictured) of Covert Farms Family Estate at the launch of a new Watershed Dinner Series on Thursday, November 10th at Forage on Robson. Learn all about Covert’s 650-acre family farm, enjoy sustainably sourced seasonal food (prepared by chef Chris Whittaker) and drink from the farm, plus other Southern Okanagan wines. Tickets are $125 per seat plus fees.

Also celebrating their 30th anniversary, Marquis Wine Cellars will be hosting an incredibly rare Château Palmer vertical dinner at Blue Water Cafe on Tuesday, November 8th. Featuring champagne and eight incredible vintages of Château Palmer dating as far back as 1978, the bubbles will be paired with four courses from chef Frank Pabst. Seating for this rare chance to try iconic Bordeaux wines is limited. Tickets are priced at $599 per person including tax and can be purchased in person at Marquis Wine Cellars (1034 Davie Street), online or by phone at 604-684-0445.

Speaking of wine, don’t miss out on tickets for the 39th Vancouver International Wine Festival, which takes place from February 11 to 19, 2017. The eight-day wine and food extravaganza will showcase 182 wineries from 16 countries, including 77 wineries from featured country Canada and 105 additional producers from around the world, pouring 1,550+ wines at 55 events. Advance tickets go on sale Tuesday, November 1 at 9:30 a.m.

Give in to the comfort of butternut squash

Give in to the comfort of butternut squash

Obviously it is decorative gourd season... and Mr. Autumn Man is stalking the streets. So give in to the inevitable and eat your body weight in butternut squash.

Wildebeest has it in pureé form served with their deliciously meaty shortribs, and they’ll also be using it in a harvest salad.

Buckstop on Denman is doing a Texas-style chilli with brisket and butternut squash.

Salvio Volpe has a silky hand-made butternut squash pasta.

Tableau Bar Bistro has a butternut squash and leek risotto with lemon, mascarpone, sage, walnuts.

Grotto on Davie is doing a lamb shank osso bucco on butternut squash risotto.

Welcome Max Borrowman to Juniper

Welcome Max Borrowman to Juniper

It's all change over at Juniper in Chinatown, with Max Borrowman (ex-of Torafuku and the Lobby Lounge at the Fairmont Pacific Rim) taking over the bar program from Shaun Layton. Max plans to continue to up the ante with more gins to the 20 or so currently in rotation, with around half a dozen from the Cascadian region. Check out Max’s new cocktail list which is available now. My favourite from the ones I sampled is the Rhythm of the Clouds, a gloriously hot pink bright rum-spiked beauty made with pressed beet juice, lemon and ginger. It’s exactly what you need to banish any possible cold or flu and tastes terrifically peppery with a sweet warm hit of rum. And yeah, I knowgin and allbut believe me, this is superb.