The Vancouver Art Gallery boasts a permanent collection of more than 10,000 works and features the creations of well-known international and Canadian artists such as Emily Carr and Jeff Wall, alongside a rotating selection of travelling exhibitions. Currently, the gallery hosts the first and only drawing exhibit ever to travel from Paris's illustrious Musée d'Orsay, and the nearly 100-piece collection displays some of the finest 19th-century French art to creep over the borders of Gaul. Titled The Modern Woman, the exhibit features the work of Degas, Manet, Gauguin, and Renoir, among others, and addresses the artistic tides of the late 19th century as they began to migrate away from formal portraits and turned instead to snapshots of everyday life. On display through September 6, these ground-breaking artistic renderings reflect women's rapidly changing role in society at the time, with depictions of women wandering the streets in contemporary dress, casually dining in cafés, jogging on treadmills, and preening in the boudoir.
Settle arm-wrestling scores over sips and scones with The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's afternoon tea for two ($36 per person), currently themed as "The Princess and the Tea." Guests will sit in the wing-backed chairs of the hotel's 900 West Lounge and be treated to fine finger foods made in-house and tasty teas, blended exclusively for Fairmont guests by the Metropolitan Tea Company. Delectables arrive on a three-tiered platter in an arrangement so appealing that Busby Berkeley's ghost's mouth would water—current bites include freshly baked plain and raisin scones, tea sandwiches topped with goodies such as chicken salad or cucumber, and pastries including lemon cheesecake and fruit tarts. Teawise, Fairmont's 14 flavours include the caramel notes of Maple Maple, the stress-reducing Egyptian chamomile, the green goodness of Jasmine Butterfly #1, and the limited edition 1907 Centennial Blend, drawing from a Harlem Globetrotter's passport's worth of international influences.
The hospitable staff at Raw Canvas challenges the concept of the starving artist with a menu of tapas and desserts that recharge brainpower for creative endeavours. Like a bust of Andy Warhol carved out of butter, Raw Canvas merges the worlds of art and cuisine with a painting pit where colourful brushstrokes flow freely and a dining area for munching on fine sausages and alpine cheeses. The restaurant-studio prides itself on its eco-friendly approach to both visual expression and bodily nourishment, stocking up on paints made on Granville Island and culinary ingredients culled from local family farms. Guests sip craft beers and complex wines as they marvel at Raw Canvas's gallery of original paintings by local artists, or admire the patron-conceived masterpieces that adorn the walls of the painting pit.
After baking cookies at the Cookies of Course storefront for 29 years, Alan Boysen recently turned to delivery as a means to supply his customers with fresh-baked treats. Despite losing their beloved retail space to a renoviction, the Cookies of Course crew now serves up more than 20 styles of cookie from their delivery Prius, ferrying everything from tubs of cookie batter to dozens of peanut butter chocolate chip treats straight to doors. A rotating menu of cookies du jour keeps customers guessing with options such as peanut butter milk chocolate and Kona cookies made with coconut, macadamias, milk chocolate chips, and ground organic coffee beans. Staff can even accommodate orders with a day's notice if placed before 8 a.m., and deliver treats for a forgotten birthday or impromptu Cookie Monster shrine.
Commune Cafe spins a sumptuous food web of seasonal fare sourced from farmers, butchers, and bakers who make the Vancouver area their home. Like a vegetable-a-day pinup photographer, chefs take pains to capture food's good side, with a menu featuring free-range meats and eggs, organic produce and dairy, and sustainable seafood. Sample communal dishes, such as the Sangak flatbread with bacon and caramelized onions ($10), or erect red-velvet ropes around an exquisitely dressed meal of your own, such as the Berkshire pork belly with braised red cabbage ($13) or the sweet-potato gnocchi with broccoli florets and sage butter ($12). Toast to a night with friends or a narrow escape from an emu stampede with a selection of fine wines ($6–$11) and craft brews ($6–$6.50).
After building a loyal fanbase at the farmers' market, Bonchaz set up its own shop in 2010, unveiling a tasty array of baked goods, savoury baguette sandwiches, and aromatic french-press coffee. Taking its name from a Mexican-French milk-bun pastry, the café outfits its signature treat in an array of decadent flavours kissed with a hint of coffee and lovingly torched to a golden-brown crust. The speedy kitchen staff rolls out the fluffy pastries alongside an ever-changing lineup of soups as well as sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, pulled pork, and smooth, creamy hummus.