It's safe to say all living things like food, but maybe not as much as Chef Victor Bongo does. Recently transplanted from Africa, a young Victor worked as a dishwasher, but the siren call of the culinary scene lured him. He navigated from one kitchen to another, learning to cook, achieving the position of head chef, and eventually studying with three-star Michelin Chef Edmund Liew-On.
Today, Chef Bongo helms Daniel's Restaurant, where he puts his considerable talents to work blending internationally beloved spices into local seasonal and organic ingredients. He places pan-seared scallops into seas of pureed parsnips or submerges bison filet mignon in blueberry-port-wine sauce. His culinary ministrations earned his new restaurant the accolades of local press, including Straight.com's 2012 Golden Plate award for Best New Restaurant Outside Vancouver.
The Hronopoulos family, owners of Sokela Restaurant and Lounge, call upon Greek, Italian, Moroccan, Spanish, and French influences to create a menu that represents a mélange of Mediterranean flavours. Sokela was born when the owners decided to turn the image of their traditional Greek restaurant, Alekos, around by reversing its name. To reflect this new philosophy, the Greek plates share menu space with chorizo, gnocchi, and West Coast seafood dishes to please palates and confuse U.S. customs employees. Beige and brown accents, tiles, exposed wood, and short cylindrical hanging lamps create a casual atmosphere and surround patrons as they dine in the main room or the lounge.
Chada Thai Fine Cuisine—named after the traditional headpiece in a Thai classical dance—prepares platefuls of pan-seared tiger prawns, chicken blanketed in curry sauce, and pad thai noodles. Around the dining room, elaborate headpieces adorn walls, and sculptures sit near the entrance, high-fiving patrons as they walk in.
An evening at The Giggle Dam begins as a typical night out, until a zany cast member delivers your appetizer. That's because the theatre treats the dinner and performance portions of its shows as one and the same; rather than only using printed menus, the cast sings the dinner selections to the audience, and rather than postponing the entertainment, the entrée delivery is part of the show. Every plate of the four-course meal—which features rotating dishes such as roast beef and gravy, salmon, and vegetarian pasta—is crafted by award-winning chef Pieter Van Meenen, who incorporates seasonal ingredients and fresh techniques in each of his inventive creations. As the audience dines, the actors float around the room and converse with every table while hamming it up with their impressions and gags.
Once the actors are familiar with the audience members' names, hometowns, and shampoo preferences, they hit the stage and engage the audience in an outrageous and politically incorrect original musical comedy show accompanied by an eight-piece band. Every performance is a Giggle Dam original written by the members of the diverse cast who all bring something different to the table, whether it's singing in musical theatre, touring with a rock band, or performing in burlesque shows. The Giggle Dam cast pulls from these experiences to create shows full of laughs, music, and willing audience participation. To keep things fresh, the company swaps out the shows four times a year, premiering a new display every three months to feature more vibrant characters, catchy songs, and side-splitting laughs.
With its burnished leather chairs, high-backed wooden booths, and burgundy walls, the look of Copper Club Restaurant & Lounge’s dining room hearkens back to a turn-of-the-century smoking parlor or baron’s study. It’s a stark change from the airy lounge space next door with its vaulted ceiling, wall of windows, and blue and orange plush couches. Though the two spaces harbor aesthetic differences, their cuisine unites them, as chefs sear certified Angus beef from Canadian ranches and Ocean Wise–approved sustainable seafood to populate their menu of West Coast-based fusion fare. Each dish melds fresh flavours with flourishes evocative of worldly cuisines, from Asian mango salsa and coconut tomato sauce to St. Louis–style barbecue. Once dining companions have cleared food from plates and spoons from noses, they can retreat to the lounge for live music until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
At Ricky's All Day Grill, the grill stays hot from breakfast time to dinner. Behind it, the cooks flip three egg omelets with shrimp, pesto, and goat cheese and sear certified Angus beef sirloin steaks. Daily cocktail specials and beers on tap fill diners' glasses along with smoothies, specialty coffees, and milkshakes.