You’ve Gotta Try This in May

This is your indispensable companion to all that is hot, fresh and freaking delicious in Vancouver right now

This is your indispensable companion to all that is hot, fresh and freaking delicious in Vancouver right now

It may be rainy April when I’m writing this but in my mind’s eye, all I can see is glorious May. Blue skies! Bright pink spot prawns and rhubarb! Red and green watermelon! And so very many hours to log on patios across our great big gorgeous city.

It’s May, dammit (and June-uary and its accompanying storms are coming), so get out there and eat all that amazing local, sustainable deliciousness and check out some of the cool fundraisers and one-off events that are scheduled for the month.

As ever, don’t forget napkins as it’s gonna get messy…


1. Find Frenchy at Coast

Massive news from the Vancouver restaurant world this month as some huge switcheroos have happened. After 26 years at Joe Fortes, one of the city’s most beloved figures, legendary maître d’ Frenchy—as well as operations manager Scott Garrett—have upped sticks and can now be found at Coast Restaurant. Scott emailed me to say: “I am excited to start a new journey in my restaurant career working with Emad Yacoub. He brings passion, enthusiasm and excitement to Vancouver’s growing restaurant scene where the opportunities are endless!” Frenchy—possibly the only man in the city to get away with referring to himself in the third person—mailed to say: “What I look forward to the most is the adrenaline needed to execute service at the highest standards as well as working again with Emad Yacoub. This is Frenchy’s last ride; his swan song.”


2. Eat tacos with Stefan

The second major shocker is that ex-Michelin star chef, Stefan Hartmann has left Bauhaus and will be joining Tacofino as their regional executive chef in May. Hartmann will join forces with Tacofino co-founder Jason Sussman to oversee menu development and continued expansion for the group of restaurants, as well as take on a key role in mentoring up-and-coming cooks. This is huge news and very exciting for tacos fans!


3. Go to all the fun events


Start planning ahead for this one… Outstanding in the Field, the travelling farm-to-table dinner series that stages multi-course feasts at the places where the food on the plate was harvested is doing four dinners at farms across Canada as part of their 2017 tour. The closest one to Vancouver is on July 6th at Bullock Lake Farm, Salt Spring Island with guest chef Phil Scarfone of Nightingale. Check out the events here.


Wild Rice is hosting its first brewmaster dinner of the season with Steel and Oak on May 11th at 6:30 p.m. with four beer-paired courses including drunken shrimp raft and roasted lemongrass chicken for $55 including tax and tip.


Celebrate Canada’s 150th with all the beer! This is ace. Central City has collaborated with 11 other Canadian craft brewers to create the ‘Red Racer Across the Nation Collaboration 12-pack’ which commemorates Canada’s 150th birthday celebration. There will be a tasting on Tuesday, May 30th at Central City Brewpub Beatty Street, and you can buy either the full 12-pack or two East/West six-packs from May.


Guu is hosting a party to celebrate its new house sake, Dento, on May 2nd from 9 to 11 p.m. at Guu Kobachi on Denman Street. Sake selection of the night will be Dento (junmai), Van Go Funk (junmai) and Kagatobi (junmai) as well as Guu Kobachi plus Sake Mojitos and Sake Sangria. Tickets costs $25 including tax, which includes two sake drink tickets and snacks. Extra drink tickets can be purchased at the door.


L’Abattoir is launching a once-a-month (for now) ultra-fancy eight-seat chef’s table event in the downstairs part of their private event space behind the restaurant in Gaoler’s Mews (hence the name) with the first service on May 19th. Tickets ($195 plus tax and gratuity, including the full menu and wine pairings) will be released on Monday, May 1st at 10 a.m. More info can be found at @gaolersmews and online.


The Cascade Room is hosting an excellent-sounding Barbarians Feast on May 29th with whisky, beer, live music and all the meat. From a tutored tasting with whiskey ambassador Matt Jones to a Jim Beam-infused Main St Ale tasting with Jack Bensley from Main St. and then a whole roasted 80 lb pig, sausages, lamb chops, roast beef, turkey wings, game hens, pork ribs and (possibly) one vegetable, this is an unmissable night of decadence. Get tickets here.


4. Drink all the bubbles

This is a trend I can wholly get behind: lashings of bubbles by the glass, thanks to the innovative Le Verre de Vin preservation system which keeps sparkling wine fresh for 21 days. Provence Marinaside and TWB-The Wine Bar are offering up an incredible 24 different bubbles by the glass which will suit all budgets and tastes. Go for any day $8 prosecco, or style it out with $110 Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 (not so crazy as it’s almost $300 for a bottle). Best of all, on Saturdays TWB is offering 25 per cent off all bubbles too.


5. Get behind a great cause


Mealshare is hosting a major fundraiser on Wednesday, May 10th, during its Tonight for Tomorrow event to help end youth hunger. On the night, 15 participating restaurants will partner with Mealshare and for every dollar a patron spends on food, one dollar will be donated to Mealshare. Sign up to pledge your support at ‘The Most Delicious Petition Ever.’ As a token of thanks, those who sign up will receive a free Evo Car Share membership and/or driving minutes to travel to the participating restaurant of their choosing.


David Gunawan and his team at Farmer’s Apprentice are hosting a fundraiser on Monday, May 1st to help Shalefield Organic Gardens after their greenhouses and crops were destroyed in the February snow. Gunawan is donating 75 per cent of the proceeds from the evening to farm owners Brian Patterson and Yolanda Versterre, and the menu will be comprised of ingredients sourced primarily from Shalefield. Tickets are available at here for $99 per person plus tax and gratuity, which includes a multi-course menu with wine and beverage pairings. There will be two seatings: 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.


6. It’s time to shop the farmers’ markets

Quarreling couples, it’s time to celebrate! You no longer have to fight indoors at Ikea. Now you can take those terse discussions outdoors ’cause May means that most of our Farmers’ Markets open for the summer seasonyay! Bring on the squabbles over kale prices! Trout Lake opens May 6th, Kitsilano on May 7th, the West End on May 27th, Mount Pleasant on May 28th and Main Street Station on May 31st. Find your market here.


7. It’s spot prawn season yo!

I know. They are hideously expensive, but nothing says “Hurrah! I am a Vancouverite and I love seasonal food” like getting your spot prawn on. Just don’t forget the spot prawn rules:

  • Make sure that they are the super-sweet sustainable B.C. varietynot the dodgy out-of-season ones. Get ’em off the boat down at Fisherman’s Wharf by Granville Island or at any of the Ocean Wise partners.
  • Spot prawns taste best when they are cooked fastbetween 30 seconds and two minutes.

  • Never store them in tap water: The chlorine in our system will kill the prawns, which speeds up the decline of the meat. After buying your prawns, immediately get them into a cooler or on ice.

  • Take the head off ASAP. When you buy live spot prawns, you have to work fast or they will spoil.

  • Suck the head! For real: if you’re at a restaurant and get the head of a prawn, slurp the juice out of it like a goddam pro. At home, try ’em raw for an ocean-like taste or crunch them up deep-fried after they’ve been tossed in a little seasoned corn starch.

  • And try out some of our favourite chefs’ recipes here.


8. Hit up a patio

I’m writing this on the one good day in weeks. The sun is out! The sky is blue! Torrential rain is forecast for the rest of the week, but heyit can’t go on forever, right?! Here’s our ultimate patio guide, and here are my three faves for the next time the sun shines.


With one of the best views in the city with a rock-solid bar program and one of the most exciting menus in town too, hit up Ancora to enjoy, well everything, really. Play hooky from work and take a long lunch and check out the prix fixe menu, and definitely try Philipp Karatsyupa’s terrific Latin- and Asian-influenced cocktails.


Two words: Joe Fortes. OK, five words. No, six… Joe Fortes, patio, double happy hour. You got this.


Let’s show some serious love for TAPShack who has a killer double happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. and then 8 p.m. to close and excellent patios, perfect for sloping off work early and enjoying some of that desperately needed summer sunshine.


9. Get fancy at Botanist

Botanist is finally here: the all-new (and sexy as hell) restaurant, cocktail bar (plus lab!), and champagne lounge on the first floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel. The space itself, designed by Ste. Marie is beautiful. That too-big space of Oru, the previous restaurant, has now been thoughtfully divided by curving vanilla-coloured lines and plenty of bright greenery into a far more intimate setting which brings a sense of the outdoors indoors.

The bar menu features some next-level creative cocktails (so much more about that next month) and there is a gorgeous champagne lounge area which is exactly where everyone will want to go the next time they want to impress anyone on a date (psst… there’s an $11 by-the-glass Zanatta sparkling from Vancouver Island which is terrific and will not break the bank).

And the food? Well, executive chef Hector Laguna’s food is certainly among some of the prettiest in the city and he seems to be on a mission to single-handedly bring back foams to high-end dining. If they taste as wonderful as the whisper-light Taleggio cheese number which came with the strip loin I tried, then that’s absolutely fine by me. The ling cod with a seafood nage and delicate olive-oil-whipped mash is one of the most plate-lickingly wonderful things I’ve eaten all year. The buttery house-made brioche is available to take home for $8 for a small loaf which could become the city’s new post-date avo toast breakfast traditions.


10. Eat and drink all the watermelon

Taste spring in a glassor on your platewith this new seasonal stunner!

  • Grotto has a watermelon salad plus a Chartreuse, olive oil, egg white and watermelon syrup cocktail.
  • Buckstop has B.C. ling cod tacos with watermelonand (hurrah!) they’re bringing back the summer watermelon sangria.
  • Wildebeest has a watermelon negroni slushie on tap right now, oh damn!
  • Tacofino has a watermelon hibiscus margarita on their happy hour menu. Oh, double damn!
  • Torafuku has the Melancholy, a watermelon-infused gin drink with lime leaf-infused Martini Bianco and a dash of vanilla simple syrup. Oh, triple damn!