A gentle breeze blows across the bay, travelling to an outdoor patio where it tousles the hair of patrons sharing tapas and lounging atop chic black-and-white couches. This scene embodies Mandalay Lounge & Steakhouse, a restaurant whose staff aims to seamlessly fuse globally inspired cuisine, trendy decor, and serene ambience. The eatery's chefs seek balance between Asian and European culinary influences as they top their succulent steaks in demi-glace and craft rice bowels. These multicultural influences seem to echo the dining room's decor, which blends the familiar glow of chandeliers with Southeast Asian adornments, such as decorative elephants that sound their trunks and ask for a bite at each dish's arrival. Upstairs, staff refill wine glasses in a private dining room that overlooks the water.
Serbian-born chef Boban Kovachevich has fired up stoves all over the globe. Cooking in Israel, he earned Jerusalem Post's nomination for the list of the 10 best chefs in the Middle East. At Carver’s Steakhouse, Kovachevich lavishes attention on every step of the culinary process, from growing the ingredients to cheering on the busboys. He begins with sustainably grown produce, local and organic meats, and certified Ocean Wise seafood. For his steaks, he chooses cuts of certified Angus beef. He ages each for 28 days, marinates it for a week in cold-pressed olive oil and spices, broils it, and flash-sears it to seal in the juices. The Vancouver Sun called the steaks “superb” and “mouth-watering,” and Indulge magazine said the juicy slabs give diners “a reason to pause after every mouthful.” During dinner, servers complete the meal with suggestions of wine to match each entree’s texture and taste. Of his respect for the culinary process, Kovachevich said to an Indulge reporter, “Whether I am cooking for a prime minister or the dishwasher, it does not matter. You can’t cook well without love.”
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.
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.