In the dining room, the rhythmic pounding of a bodhrán hand drum mingles with the joyful melodies of a tin flute, flooding every inch of the space with an ebullience punctuated by onlookers’ clapping hands and tapping feet. The diners have left the feasts spread across their tables mostly untouched, their attention glued to the band in the midst of their lively song. Such moments aren't a rarity at Donegal's Irish House, but are an almost nightly occurrence at the jovial eatery that brings locals together to make new friends and share in internationally inspired meals.
Champions of fostering an atmosphere of community and friendship, the affable staff goes out of its way to make guests feel welcome, thanks to attentive service and an ever-changing calendar of events that keep inviting guests back. On select evenings, patrons can convene at Donegal's to watch a Canucks game or to see local bands. As guests chat and mingle in the dining room, the kitchen buzzes with chefs concocting Irish standards such as shepherd's pie and international cuisine that includes perogies and sausage, jambalaya, and butter chicken. Donegal's signature dish remains the whopping blarney stone burger, a 7.5-pound charbroiled Canadian beef patty that gets its eater a commemorative T-shirt and a place on the wall of fame if it's eaten within two hours with no help. Unsuccessful competitors, meanwhile, find their snapshot displayed on the wall of shame, under the most personal entry from their dream journals.
The Derby Bar and Grill dishes up fruits from land and sea in the turf-club ambience of an elegant dining house and off-track wagering centre. Whether seated under chandeliers and rows of flat-screen TVs or in cream-coloured chairs in front of the Winners' Circle’s fireplace, patrons browse a menu of gourmet fare to complement their surroundings. Diners trawl for drunken garlic prawns flambéed in Sambuca ($12.75) or nestle into a bed of rice noodles under pad thai’s chicken or shrimp, accented with tamarind and fish sauce ($19.95). Flame-grilled 8-ounce New York peppercorn steak in cognac sauce struts from the kitchen trailing Derby’s garlic-and-cheese bread, seasonal vegetables, and O’Brien or mashed potatoes ($22.95). The Bourbon Blackjack burger blends hearty harmonies of pepper, cheese, and whiskey-mustard sauce ($13.95), and butternut-squash ravioli basks in white-wine-cream sauce ($12.95). All pastas bring along piquant garlic-bread sides, and sandwiches invite fries or house salad to join them with a singing picklegram.
Paddlewheeler Pub woos patrons with a menu of tongue-tantalizing bread-embraced meats, 14 sudsy beers on tap, and 12 wines by the glass. Fashion-forward mouths can try on the shrimp purses ($10.95), deep-fried wonton-wrapped shrimp served with sweet chili sauce, or potato skins ($9.95). The california clubhouse sandwich transports taste buds to the VHS-paved streets of Hollywood with three layers of bread layered with chicken breast, avocado, and bacon ($10.95). Canines can chomp nine juicy burgers, including the mushroom ($10.45), bacon and cheddar ($10.45), and wild salmon ($11.95), all served with a choice of savoury sidekick, such as above-average-temperature soup, fresh salad, or cape-donning crispy fries.
The Global ComedyFest corrals some of the best and brightest comedians on the international circuit into Vancouver for a marathon of laughs, fun, and moderately uncomfortable first dates. Big names such as zany former MTV staple Tom Green perform alongside up-and-comers in more than 30 performances throughout the festival. Eschew the everyday monodimensional comedy with a combination stand-up and comedy 3-D video show featuring Canada's own Reza Peyk, Jy Harris, and Gary Fong, or opt for a night of “it’s funny because it’s true” laughs at the Gerry Dee show. The Edge of the Fest performance pushes the festival’s edgiest artists to the limits of social acceptability, while the Best of the Fest showcases top comedians such as Greg Behrendt and Peter Chao.
At Dublin Castle Neighbourhood Grill, diners can feast on Dublin wings and yam fries inside a multi-storey castle-like building perched along the Fraser River. The building’s striking interior, which once housed the BC Penitentiary, are almost as noteworthy as the Irish pub food and libations at the area hotspot. Private events, corporate parties, and elegant dog weddings often take over the sprawling outdoor patio, while regulars can belly up to the bar to sip wines, beers, and whiskies.
For nearly a quarter of a century, Oliver Twist Pub has provisioned patrons with to-go and bar-side libations alongside feasts of eclectic pub fare. Inside the welcoming two-storey pub or on the open-air patio, patrons sup on hearty burgers, steak, and seafood, or pastas and rice bowls inspired by cuisines from around the world, washing down meals with frosty brews on tap. As the Canucks complete blind passes and flawless toe loops and football and baseball players battle it out on the nine HDTVs, the air buzzes with the excitement of nighttime activities ranging from karaoke and DJ sets to poker tournaments and music bingo.
Oliver Twist’s attached liquor store equips on-the-go customers with a full range of lottery prizes, wines, liquors, and a walk-in chilled beer cave that mimics the Neanderthal frozen brew palaces of the Ice Age.