Though Cajun food is well known for its spicy bite, the dishes at Crawfish King don’t always stick to that formula. Instead, chefs toss fresh crab, crayfish, shrimp, and prawns in one of four ascending levels of spicy seasonings chosen by the customer. That way, chefs help accommodate patrons who enjoy a mild zing as well as those who prefer food so spicy it comes with a single-portion fire extinguisher. Chefs then fill orders of boiled seafood by the pound, fill po’ boy sandwiches, or create platter meals served with sides of Cajun fries. Crawfish King also offers fresh gumbo, jambalaya, a bevy of fried sides, Southern-style desserts, and cold brews to go with meals as clients watch games on the restaurant’s TVs.
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.
It may seem hard to improve on the simple appeal of beer-battered fish, but consider 131 Water Kitchen & Bar's particularly artisanal approach: beer-battered haddock, hand-cut fries, and house-made tartar sauce. It's one of several ways the restaurant manages to work beer into its high-concept pub cuisine; the menu also sneaks beer into other signature dishes, including Guinness meatloaf and smoked-cheddar poutine made with stout-infused bacon.
When the kitchen can't physically blend a brew with a bite, a variety of local and craft beers facilitates easy pairing. Ales from breweries such as Parallel 49 are a natural fit with the burgers, especially the patty of house-made bratwurst topped with blue-cheese aioli and pear-and-onion relish.
But before you've settled on what you'd like in your sandwich, you'll have to decide where to eat it. The main dining room screens sports on its HD televisions, but the people-watching on Water Street?viewable from the gigantic front windows and the wraparound patio?can prove just as entertaining. There's also a courtyard patio, whose quiet allows dates to whisper sweet nothings over dinner and drinks.
For an even swankier vibe, the restaurant's mezzanine level beckons larger parties to settle into its low-lit booths. Don't schedule your book club meeting on a Wednesday night, however?that's when team trivia gets heated downstairs.
Morning is breaking over Eh! Restaurant’s rooftop garden as a chef busies himself plucking ripe, organic produce out from the verdant plots. Armed with an arsenal of produce, he retreats to the kitchen where the morning’s bounty will be transformed into a fresh feast to feed the evening dinner rush. The rooftop beds––bolstered by nutrients from the kitchen’s composted food waste––exemplify Eh! Restaurant’s dedication to fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Firm believers in environmental sustainability, the staff works hard to set an example of eco-friendliness for their community, from packaging takeout orders in compostable containers to reading bedtime stories to area trees. Along with sprinkling dishes with veggies from the rooftop garden, the chefs make a point to architect dishes from ingredients found within 100 miles of the restaurant. Servers whisk plates forth from the kitchen piled high with dishes that boast international influences and flavours, such as Cajun spices, Mexican white corn kernels, and Brazilian-style chicken. Dappled with modern art and sleek, streamlined tables, the spacious dining room grants guests a peek into the open kitchen, where chefs and bartenders work their magic.
A raw bar packed with ice, oysters, and crab greets diners when they enter Cork & Fin, offering a glimpse at a menu of refined seafood and contemporary cuisine that Zagat rated "very good to excellent." In addition to spotlighting seafood by creating towers of oysters on the half shell, dungeness crab legs, and albacore tuna tartare, the chefs demonstrate their culinary skills by introducing new flavours. Saffron aioli adds a distinctive, Mediterranean spark to seafood fritters, barbecued mackerel arrives with the restrained zest of a beetroot vinaigrette, and wild mushrooms lend a savoury decadence to six-ounce cuts of grilled sirloin.
This commitment to simple yet refined cuisine complements the split-level dining area's clean, minimalist decor. Exposed brick walls supply a rustic vibe that acknowledges the building's historic Gastown roots, but the room also features modern accents, including track lighting and an electron microscope. Bordered by a stately white banister, the mezzanine level presents guests with a semiprivate dining option for parties or special events.
Raincity Grill's chefs embrace the essence of British Columbia by forging seasonally rotating menus with the region's organic and locally grown crops. They regard their cuisine as "a tribute to the local farmers, fisherman and producers" from whom they source their ingredients, highlighting the farm-fresh vegetables and proteins in meals that Zagat rates as "very good to excellent." Though the menu changes, dishes may shine a spotlight on wild salmon in carrot sauce, dry-aged bone-in rib eye, or pappardelle pasta with wild and cultivated mushrooms.
The restaurant's signature 100 Mile tasting menu almost exclusively incorporates ingredients from within 100 miles, the exact distance that the prep chefs can rollerblade in one day. Even the wine selection consists almost entirely of carefully vinted bottles from the Pacific West Coast. By partnering with the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise conservation program, the chefs also demonstrate their commitment to sustainable seafood and environmental responsibility.