The nearer a food’s origins, the fresher it’s likely to be when served. The Beaver & Mullet takes that basic culinary truth to heart by only serving meats, vegetables, and dairy foods that are produced locally. But it’s not merely in food that this eatery intertwines itself with the business of area merchants; the bar procures microbrews, wines, and spirits from local producers, such as the Squamish-produced Howe Sound Rail Ale nut brown. These locally acquired staples join fresh-baked bread and organic produce. The kitchen features skilled chefs but no deep fryers; lunches, dinners, and brunches are baked instead of batter sizzled. They prepare a chicken ranch wrap with a garlic-pesto tortilla wrapped around spicy Cajun chicken with bacon and swiss, as well as a spinach-and-goat-cheese quiche.
The Beaver & Mullet combines those local brews with health-conscious bistro fare in a quirky dichotomy of an atmosphere that's part sports bar, part art studio. Groups gather to watch games on one of the flat-screen TVs that used to be '90s-style, boxy big screens until they encountered a steamroller. During Canucks and Oilers games, fans even get discounted all-you-can-eat wings. But next to those TVs, red and khaki walls and chalkboard menus surround guests, along with a dark hardwood floor from which massive windows extend to the exposed-duct-and-beam ceiling. Those fixtures unite with colourful canvas paintings to evoke the ambience of an urban art emporium. Guests can shirk the trappings of the interior altogether, though, and opt to sit on the outdoor patio.
Back when street trolleys still rattled through the Loop, Herman Berghoff founded a saloon where men could stop in to refuel with corned beef sandwiches and Berghoff Beer. Throughout the succeeding decades that took the Berghoff through Prohibition and, afterward, obtaining the city's first liquor license, Herman's descendants have shepherded the restaurant through changing times while meticulously preserving an old-fashioned feel. Carlyn Berghoff now steers a menu of contemporary, German-inflected bistro fare where wiener schnitzel, pierogies, and sauerbraten try to pick up the more-modern lingo of mascarpone mac and cheese and coffee-crusted beef medallions. The Berghoff’s Teutonic roots—carried on in an annual Oktoberfest complete with alpenhorns and lederhosen—intertwine with its local ones: the 200-Mile Initiative sends seasonal ingredients and produce from within 200 miles of the city spilling into the better part of the menu during the summer and fall.
Setting aside the modern crowds, the Berghoff's interior might resemble a much better-smelling museum diorama. Warm wooden wainscoting cradles every wall, checkerboard tiles gleam underfoot, and murals above the bar peek onto sprawling vistas from the balconies of pastoral retreats.
Weaving a tapestry of authentic subcontinental dishes, the chefs at Maurya Indian Cuisine incorporated ingredients from across India’s varied regions. The country’s street food vendors are represented by the toasted potato and pea-cake appetizers; Goa is represented by spicy chicken, lamb, or beef vindaloo; and the tastes of South India make an appearance in the coconut- and poppy seed–flavoured chettinad paste. The restaurant’s base sauce—a mix of five sauces— flavours hearty, shareable portions of lamb, chicken, fish, and goat. The bistro also keeps vegetarians sated with eats that include black lentils slow-cooked overnight and several styles of naan, including one that is equipped with WiFi.
Food arrives with a choice of ambiance. One is the well-lit dining room decked out with long drapes suspended from a high ceiling. The other is served on the eatery’s patio, complete with its own chef who tends to the outdoor tandoor oven. Whether indoors or out, the staff maintains a high standard of professionalism, earning an array of positive press mentions, including Dine Out Vancouver's Best Bite award for service in 2010.
On his CTV News feature, La Belle Patate founder Mathieu Lott revealed he disdains the word "chef" and rather prefers his chosen title: Grease King. The name belies his and founder, as well as native Montrealer, Pascal Cormier's devotion to down-home cooking, a style that embraces the humble simmer of the deep-fryer over the fuss of candlelight, linens, and diamond-encrusted toothpicks. His poutine dishes inject three diner locations with classic Quebec flavour, layering hand-cut, double-cooked french fries with cheese curds and a ladle of vegetarian brown sauce.
At his original venue in Victoria, Mathieu and his staff put on a sensory show for guests at all stages of their poutine prep. Once the potatoes have tumbled in an antique peeler, they are sliced in view of the tables, then cooked twice in bubbling oil. Each of the three locations attests that its never-frozen cheese curds squeak when chewed, a noise that indicates their quality and desire to be heard. The poutine menu covers creative takes on the traditional curds-and-sauce staple, including an egg-laden breakfast poutine and a Meat Lover poutine with beef, bacon, and pepperoni. The kitchen also crafts handmade burgers, Montreal smoked-meat sandwiches, and steamed hot dogs to accompany the potato mainstay.
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.
At Hell's Kitchen, Chef Aurelia Berleri crafts her pizza in the classic New York thin-crust style, using sustainably farmed proteins across the board. Popular options include the Penny Lane—with zucchini, spinach, artichokes, red peppers, and feta—and the Daisy Duke, an arrangement of smoked free-range chicken, smoked bacon, corn, sweet peppers, and barbecue sauce. Diners can also customize their own pies, and request gluten-free crust for any 11-inch pizza. When she's not busy tossing dough, Berleri dishes out variations on bar classics, including sea salt-crusted pretzels with aged white cheddar Irish ale sauce and grain-fed beef burgers from Pemberton Meadows.
To complement the chef's dishes, bartenders pour two-ounce shots into cocktails and offer a variety of whiskeys, imported and domestic wines, and bottled and draft beers. Feasts unfold on a sunny outdoor patio or within a spacious dining room, where exposed brick surrounds diners sunk into leather booths, gathered around high-top tables, or cradled in the arms of their servers.