For patrons bound for Steeples Bar and Grill, the experience begins before the restaurant comes into view. A scenic drive over the Malahat and through Goldstream Provincial Park offers a feast of vistas, and then the restaurant's steeple—an artifact of the restored church where it has taken up residence—peaks through the trees like a giant toddler playing hide-and-seek.
Beneath it, beams that were hand-hewn generations ago hint at present-day staff members' attention to detail. Amid casual, cozy surroundings including shuttered windows, guests dine on upscale dishes such as steak encrusted with black peppercorns, seared tuna, and creamy tarragon fettuccine replete with king prawns. The drink menu complements meals with daiquiris, martinis, and draft beers.
Ken Hueston grew up with a penchant for bones. According to the Goldstream News Gazette, he began his formal education in pursuit of paleontology, but he soon found that although his instincts were correct, they were slightly misguided?his place was not among dusty and brittle dinosaurs, but in the steam of a kitchen. There, his commitment to local ingredients, handmade cuisine, and chef education would earn him the B.C. Chamber of Commerce's Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2008, a spot on enRoute's Best New Restaurant list, and a 2012 feature on Food Network Canada's You Gotta Eat Here.
Today at Smoken Bones Cookshack, after a brief absence, Ken is back as head chef, bringing with him a fresh dose of creativity and heeding the traditions of artisanal cooking, forming his menu's burgers, cheeses, and bacon by hand, without additives. Ken and his apprentices prepare everything on site, using scratch cooking techniques, including smoking food with local Vancouver island woods. Featured on You Gotta Eat Here, their pork and beef ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket stake out the spotlight, though the Cookshack has not forgotten seafood, chicken, and stacked sandwiches. The emphasis on all-natural methods also extends past the cuisine and into the smoking process itself, which employs wood from Vancouver fruit and alder trees.
The forest figures heavily into the restaurant's decor too: in between praising the venue's bacon ice cream, Heed the Hedonist recounts "exposed ducts and exposed wood everywhere, including a plywood bar that was fashioned from a Douglas Fir that had blown down during a windstorm." Big-screen televisions augment the natural appeal, broadcasting sports on game nights, and live blues music twangs during special events.
Mad Magazine’s freckled mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, once said: “We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavours and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” This quote can be read at the top of Sauce Restaurant and Lounge’s menu, whose many dishes, which span small and large plates meant for sharing, serve as evidence of the eatery’s commitment to serving natural, seasonal ingredients from local sources. The evening tapas menu hits every major food group: startch, beef, veggies, poultry, and seafood. Guests share bites of phyllo wrapped brie and a bistro chicken sandwich, which stars the poultry of island farmouse in cowichan bay. The kitchen also prepares brunch every Sunday, fortified by steaming mugs of Oughtred Coffee.
Seven varieties of mushrooms imported from Japan flavour Shang Noodle House's signature Red Reishi Ramen dish, each adding nutrients which can help bolster the immune system, metabolism, and other vital functions. The kitchen's focus on healthy eating continues with its hand-pulled wheat ramen noodles, vitamin C-packed mango juice, and free-range chicken dim sum. More than 24 varieties of ramen, from traditional to fried, round out the menu alongside barbecued pork belly, duck, and cuttlefish. Bamboo accents and contemporary art lend a modern air to Shang's Richmond and New Westminster eateries, which are part of the Kirin Restaurant Group. The latter location features a conveyor belt that rolls chef specials fresh out of the kitchen and carts back origami-folded thank-you notes from sated diners.
At Hog Shack Cook House the pit masters smoke their meats for 6 to 24 hours to bring out the tangy flavour that characterizes authentic Kansas City barbecue. Though taking its cue from KC, the menu plays host to a wide variety of dishes including Cajun chicken penne and pulled pork tacos. Traditional beef ribs and house-smoked brisket keep things classic as servers dish out heaping portions and bartenders fill glasses with one of more than 70 craft beers. By keeping the suds flowing, sauces slathered, and tuning the TVs to the big game or ultimate infomercial reel, the barbecue gurus foster a festive environment while adhering to the sensibilities of Southern and Midwestern hospitality.
Within a former Fraser River shake-and-shingle mill relocated to Granville Island, Cats Socialhouse’s team of expert chefs works tirelessly to forge inventive takes on traditional dishes for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Culinary gurus prove their dedication to the fusion of comfort fare with the flavours of Vancouver’s diverse influences as they whip up noshes featuring ingredients such as house-made guacamole, almond rice, fresh basil, and coconut milk. Affable servers deliver freshly minted eats, such as shrimp and chicken pad thai and juicy hickory burgers, late into the evening in order to accommodate customers’ varied schedules and hunger cravings after midnight Jazzercise classes. When outside temperatures take a turn for the balmy, a spacious seasonal patio enables alfresco dining accompanied by cool sea breezes and the stares of pizza-craving clouds.