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.
You could say that the art of food preparation is in chef Manish Rawat‘s blood. An India native, his culinary passion started early on by observing his father’s restaurant and catering business. That experience formed the kind of chef he is today: one who is passionate about artful cuisine and the lengths to which he can bend flavours. That’s nowhere more evident than in the way his kitchen staff at Chef's Kebab blends herbs and spices to craft his extensive menu of vegetarian and meat-based entrees and tandoor-baked breads.
But dinner at Chef’s Kebab is a treat for the other senses, too. The restaurant’s use of white plates makes the chef’s colourful food pop, whether it’s the ochre glow of a cashew curry with lamb or the vibrant green of a cumin-spinach puree with farmer's cheese. Inside the tandoor oven, skewered black tiger prawns, peppercorn-flavoured lamb, and yogurt-marinated jack fruit might be found roasting over an open flame or perfecting their tan lines.
Among the lively chatter of friends and the glow of 11 HDTVs, Rusty’s offers a home away from home where patrons can relax and beer spills are not a big deal. Bartenders pour tall, frosty glasses of Canadian and import brews and shake up martinis and cocktails. The menu offers eclectic dishes, such as perogies and chorizo, butter-chicken rice bowls, and Big Kahuna flatbread. Patrons can pop in to catch the Canucks, BC Lions, and Whitecaps or stop by on Mondays to flex their golden pipes or practice their duck calls during karaoke. As a part of the community, the team at Rusty’s looks to help their patrons drink responsibly and offers a complimentary pickup-and-drop-off shuttle service from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Since debuting in 1938, DQ Grill & Chill has become one of the world's leading purveyors of frozen treats. Today, their sweet empire stretches across the globe, with more than 6,000 stores scattered across the United States, Canada, and 18 other countries. At each shop, an enormous dessert menu boasts treats ranging from soft-serve cones and Blizzards Treats to iconic Dilly Bars, Peanut Buster Parfaits, DQ Cakes, and much more. Not content with just conquering dessert, DQ Grill & Chill also tames flames with its menu of hearty grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken.
Floor-to-ceiling windows make up the entire front wall of Jerusalem Grill, allowing sunlight to creep in across pale yellow walls and a spread of Mediterranean fare encased in stainless-steel containers. Within each freshly filled basin a new treat, such as hummus or crisp veggies, waits to top chicken, beef, and lamb-packed pitas or crisp falafel. Pita-free platters hoist beef shish kebabs resting beside homemade fries, or a spread dubbed the family meal packed with an entire grilled or fried chicken, garlic dip, and enough pita to insulate the tool shed.
Within The Fireside Coffee's cozy shop, which is warmed by the flames of its namesake fireplace, baristas steam signature lattes, pour drip coffees, and plate a variety of pastries. In addition to lattes infused with about 25 different flavours, the café slings steamy soups and paninis as pressed as a steamroller's tux. The staff also inspires celebration with seasonal drinks and treats, which guests relish while soaking up sun on the patio or cozying up in plush armchairs indoors.