Nautical Nellies Restaurant, celebrating its 17th anniversary in 2014, is no stranger to recognition. The eatery, which overlooks the city's inner harbour, has garnered multiple Open Table Diners' Choice awards in categories including Best Food, Best Seafood, and Best Overall. Fillets of wild Pacific halibut or Vancouver Island ling cod flake beneath forks, and shellfish, lobster, and Dungeness crab claws teeter on multi-tiered seafood towers. Diners can sample 10 varieties of oysters and rolls of fusion sushi. Grass-fed Angus steaks, aged for 35 days, are cooked to any specification, from well done to what chefs term “blue”— seared on the outside, with a cool centre and a scrawled-on frowny face.
Thanks to the work of wine director Betty Furneaux, Nautical Nellies' beverage programs are just as thoughtfully designed as its dining menus. Wine Spectator honoured the eatery's wine list with an Award of Excellence in 2011 and 2013. Cocktails range from beachy mojitos to the savoury double-prawn caesar with vodka, Clamato juice, and two black tiger prawns. The restaurant also dedicates a section of the menu exclusively to scotch.
Since Villages Pizza’s launch in 1974, it has expanded to seven locations and an express pizza truck, all purveying the same wholesome pies. The pizzas are topped with fresh produce and lean cuts of meat, and they can start with a whole-wheat or gluten-free crust if desired. People with dietary restrictions can also find comfort in lactose-free cheese and lower-calorie flatbreads, although more classic ingredients comprise the bulk of the menu.
As a second-generation pizza maker, owner John Papaloukas is responsible for the eatery’s traditional Italian recipes, plus some new inventions with Mexican leanings. The pesto perfect pie is topped with roasted chicken breast, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and feta, and baked pasta dishes highlight the flavours of lean meatballs, marinara, and oven.
The Black Olive entices guests with a menu of lamb, pasta, seafood, and other Mediterranean fare. Ardent accountants break from gazing into each other’s eyes by diving into a pair of crusted crab cakes ($13) with red pepper aioli. Kick start stomach gardens with a fresh vegetable and berry salad ($9), a mix of fresh herbs, veggies, and local berries tossed in a blueberry vinaigrette, before packing eager bellies with one of the savoury pasta, seafood, or meat entrees. The Mediterranean fettuccine ($18) infuses the classic dish with coastal allure, as the pasta is mixed with fresh basil, feta, tomato, wild mushrooms, and Greek olives. The popular half-rack of lamb ($26)—New Zealand spring lamb flavoured with rosemary and Cretan spices, in a red wine demi-glace—along with the other range options, including the pan-seared duck breast in a flambéed cherry sauce ($28)—invoke a sense of heartiness reminiscent of a burly cherub baby. With each dish cooked to order, the conscientious chefs pay special attention to food allergies, dietary restrictions, and other culinary demands.
Joe's FoodBar pays homage to the traditional wharfside crab shack by fusing stunning oceanfront vistas with fresh seafood feasts and a licensed bar equipped with restrooms. Guests dine on Pacific fish and chips, chowders, specialty hot dogs and sandwiches in the brisk, salty air of a 140-seat patio, drinking in the sights of Inner Harbour as sailboats drift past and seagulls vainly attempt to pick fights with the sunset. This natural beauty inspires Joe's FoodBar to act as a steward for the environment, pledging to use compostable or recycled flatware and cups and to source all food from local fisheries and farms whenever possible.
Palm fronds spill over Baja Surf Grill’s two-tiered dining room, lending the 150-seat eatery a lush, tropical aura. Arched porticoes and columns recall Spanish colonial revival architecture, which designers update with pastel pink and green hues and tropical throw pillows. The ambience reinforces the menu, which highlights the Baja fish taco, a creation pioneered by Japanese fishermen in Baja after their idea for the Munich meat muffin failed to catch on. Chefs pay additional homage to Japan’s culinary influence on the region with southwestern-style sushi peppered with ingredients such as fire-roasted corn and chipotle mayo.
Colleen Barrow has spent her entire lifetime seeking out and memorizing the coordinates of the most scenic sights dotting British Columbia's Southern Gulf Islands. Rather than trapping them in a photo album or enormous snow globe, the local explorer shares her finds with guests through ITT Wilson's Tours. By partnering with Wilson's Transportation, Barrow coordinates luxury bus tours to castles, lighthouses, botanical gardens, and wineries. With many of the tours, guests receive a midday meal such as rustic oven pizza served at an apple-orchard picnic site, or mutton legs aged to perfection in a castle's meat cellars.