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.
Subeez’s team of chefs—champions of contemporary fare infused with eclectic twists—whip up familiar-yet-unique noshes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Amid an open kitchen looking on to the warmly lit dining room, culinary gurus chop and stir for an audience of eaters as they architect dishes featuring mouthwatering ingredients such as watermelon-jalapeno coulis, house-cured duck leg, and foccacia bread fresh from the oven. Alongside hearty steak frites and lamb shanks, a host of meatless fare dapples the menu and exemplifies the kitchen’s dedication to pleasing the palates of vegans, vegetarians, and visiting apatosauruses. Dexterous bar tenders concoct artful libations before launching them down the sleek wooden bar, and baristas specializing in the art of bean brewing send mugs of perfectly percolated coffee out to tables.
Intent on fostering a welcoming atmosphere, attentive servers continually wend and soft-shoe through the dining room’s intimate booths and tables to ensure that each patron remains sated and free from stomach growls. To further enhance the restaurant’s sense of youthful, eclectic energy, a lineup of DJs holds court in-house on Thursday through Sunday evenings spinning sonic webs of R&B, funk, and dubstep.
Raincity Grill's chefs embrace the essence of British Columbia by forging seasonally rotating menus with the region's organic and locally grown crops. They regard their cuisine as "a tribute to the local farmers, fisherman and producers" from whom they source their ingredients, highlighting the farm-fresh vegetables and proteins in meals that Zagat rates as "very good to excellent." Though the menu changes, dishes may shine a spotlight on wild salmon in carrot sauce, dry-aged bone-in rib eye, or pappardelle pasta with wild and cultivated mushrooms.
The restaurant's signature 100 Mile tasting menu almost exclusively incorporates ingredients from within 100 miles, the exact distance that the prep chefs can rollerblade in one day. Even the wine selection consists almost entirely of carefully vinted bottles from the Pacific West Coast. By partnering with the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise conservation program, the chefs also demonstrate their commitment to sustainable seafood and environmental responsibility.
The kitchen at JR Taste of Ceylon is awash in an olfactory symphony of fragrant spices, the simmering warmth of hot red peppers tempered by the sweetness of ginger and the gentle perfume of cardamom. Employing the traditional Sri Lankan practice of fast roasting spices before grinding them, chefs use these rich seasonings to coax forth the nuanced flavours of Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisine. They carefully steam black lentil idli cakes and bake batches of rice shrouded in banana leaves to create meaty lamprias. Though many menu items feature tender beef, mutton, or fish, chefs furnish vegetarian diners with rice- and lentil-based dosa crepes with veggies, sambar, and chutney.
After placing the finishing touches on each dish, chefs dispatch them to tables where diners partake in family-style dining by scooping servings onto their own plate and passive-aggressively asking their sibling to pass the salt. While diners are welcome to use cutlery, they can also adhere to Sri Lankan customs by eating with only their right hand.
Cannibal Café's aged, hand-ground Black Angus beef patties pack a flavour that the Vancouver's Best Burger blog described as "[hitting] your mouth like a mosh-pit." And mosh pit is an accurate image—the restaurant exudes a punk-rock vibe with vintage '90s rock 'n' roll posters that paper the walls, honouring bands such as Violent Femmes, Queen, and Devo. Two beef patties serve as the foundation for the classic burger, which patrons can customize with anything from a fried egg and an avocado slice to basil pesto, Canadian cheddar, and old-style bacon. Specialties include the Montreal smoked-brisket burger, with sauerkraut, swiss cheese, russian dressing, gherkins, and garlic on a brioche bun. Vegetarian patties are available for people who love punk rock but hate its endorsement of cow tipping. For drinks, Cannibal Café offers signature milkshakes and Jones Soda Co. pop along with 12 beers and 4 wines on tap.
With its soaring 15-foot ceilings, the newly renovated Showcase Restaurant and Bar evokes images of airy cathedrals where guests dine on white tablecloths among a wall of windows, white oak pillars, and spindly floor lamps. In contrast to the streamlined dining room, chef Frank Gort prepares a complex, exotically spiced menu of upscale, West Coast-inspired fare. He and his kitchen crew drizzle succulent cuts of beef tenderloin and free-range chicken with flourishes such as a lemongrass kefir emulsion, which ties each bite into an artistic and decadent package. Additionally, the restaurant uses Ocean Wise-approved sustainable seafood almost exclusively. Meals can be paired with local lagers, BC wine, or wine on tap. The restaurant is also open for breakfast and lunch, whose menus take the stage with the same emphasis on unique flavour combinations.