A May 2007 trip
to Vancouver by sararevell
Quote: Even though we live in Seattle, there’s something about Vancouver that draws my husband and myself back every year. For my birthday weekend, we brunched on Main Street, slept at English Bay, walked round Stanley Park, window shopped on Robson Street, and suspended ourselves on the Capilano Bridge.
Hotel | "The Sylvia Hotel"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 29, 2007
1154 Gilford Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 2P6
We got to Locus around 11am, in time for their brunch menu. Even though the place was busy, we had a choice of seats: outside, at the bar, or by the window. We opted for the window, which was warm and sunny. The staff seemed really at ease and happy to see you, which instantly makes you feel at home.
We ordered drip coffees (which come with free refills) and pondered over a brunch menu befitting of any egg lover. The decision was a tough one as they have a list of eggs benedict variations, all of which sounded good. I decided on the Traditional Eggs Benedict and my husband went for two eggs with chorizo.
The "Traditional" was served on sourdough muffins and came with Canadian bacon, of course. Both plates were laden with a healthy portion of roast potatoes, a small green salad, and some juicy melon wedges. Needless to say with all that food, there was some left over - mostly potato! My only criticism on the food is that the bacon strangely lacked flavour, not something I’m used to with the Canadian variety. The hollandaise sauce, on the other hand, was excellent. I usually end up scraping most of the hollandaise off of eggs benedict anywhere because it’s so rich, but someone at Locus has figured out how to make a light version because it was delicious and easy to digest.
We finished up our coffee at a leisurely pace. I half wanted to buy a newspaper and sit there for a while I felt that well fed and relaxed but instead we took a walk down Main Street to check out some of the kitschy boutiques that are all within walking distance to Locus (between 20th and 22nd Avenues).
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 29, 2007
Eggs Benedict at Locus Café
4121 Main Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Restaurant | "Raincity Grill: The Fresh Quarter"
At 9pm we were back and seated right away. I felt a little underdressed in jeans. The low lighting and warm wooden floorboards give Raincity a slightly chic air. In addition, you can see through to the kitchen which always makes a restaurant seem fancier to me, especially when the dishes placed on the serving counter look like art pieces.
That said, Raincity also has a cosy and relaxed feel, largely due to the attentive, down-to-earth staff who really made us feel at home. We decided to try as much local fare as possible and ordered two glasses of B.C. pinot noir. One was "Blue Mountain, B.C. 2004" and the other I have to confess I don’t remember. Both were surprisingly good given that we tend to stick to European wines when we eat out.
For almost $3 USD you can try a "spoon", which gives you a taster of some of the delicacies on offer. You can order a selection of each, which included saussison sec, scallop, albacore tuna and duck, or a single spoon, as my husband did. He opted for the clam with sunroot and arugula. It was disappointingly and unusually small, a fact that was picked up by our server who generously decided not to charge us for it.
For our main course, I ordered the Rare Albacore Tuna Loin and my husband went for the Heritage Organic "Redbro" Chicken Breast. Both were exquisitely presented with my tuna served on a bed of spring sorrel barley and bacon braised leeks in an oyster cream sauce and topped with a single piece of oyster tempura. The chicken came with a crunchy risotto of "red fife wheatberry, house cured prosciutto, green radicchio, and rosemary jus." Each combination was perfectly measured although I must admit that it’s a rarity to be served such a generous portion of albacore tuna. Not that I’m complaining!
We passed on dessert. We were full and 50% of them had a nut ingredient and I’m sadly allergic. They all sounded as wonderful as the other dishes on the menu though and next time we go to Vancouver I may consider fasting for a day so I have room to try more of their menu.
If you look on their website (which will probably make your mouth water,) Raincity claims to be "…the urban link to the freshest ingredients in British Columbia." It certainly tastes like they are.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 29, 2007
1193 Denman St
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 2N1
+1 604 685 7337
Restaurant | "Kwong Chow Congee and Noodle House"
In Vancouver the life always seemed to be missing. On my first ever visit, my husband took me to Chinatown for dinner. We spent an hour walking around and couldn’t find one restaurant. The streets were dark, empty, and slightly intimidating.
This time we took the April 2007 edition of National Geographic’s "Traveler" magazine as there was an entire "Vancouver" section with a column dedicated to some of the best Chinese restaurants and we wanted to find them! As it turned out, we needed to travel almost 3 miles south of Chinatown to find good Chinese food.
First on our list was Sun Sui Wah at 3888 Main Street. We arrived at 3pm, just as they were closing for a late afternoon break. I cursed all the way to 3163 Main Street, vowing that if Kwong Chow wasn’t open, I would never again attempt to eat Chinese food in Vancouver.
Thankfully, Kwong Chow was open and we were seated immediately. Out of curiosity, I ordered some Chinese doughnuts (which were on the starters, not dessert menu). I’m not sure what I was expecting but for all those wondering, Chinese doughnuts are suspiciously like doughnuts everywhere else in the world and appear to be closely related to Spanish churros. The quantity was massive though and I wondered if my husband and myself could break a world record for "most doughnuts eaten in one sitting," had we felt the desire to eat them all.
First up was a big bowl of Prawn Wonton, which was so incredibly pungent that it was sadly left untouched and pushed to the edge of our table so we could avoid its ocean scent. We weren’t overly adventurous for the main course and went for Chicken Chow Mein and Sweet and Sour Pork dishes. These were both delicious; the chicken came with crunchy bok choy and other vegetables. The noodles were crisp but not too dry and the juicy pork was served with rice and green peppers.
One complaint you can never make about Kwong Chow is that the portions aren’t big enough or that you don’t get value for money. This is a great place for large family groups, or anyone on a budget. Our two meals, including the wonton and doughnuts came to $16.48 USD. It’s a very casual, canteen-style place that seemed popular with the locals, which I always take as a good sign. I left happy. Happy that I was well fed and that after searching for so long, I’d finally tasted a part of Vancouver’s Chinatown!
Kwong Chow Congee & Noodle House
3163 Main Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Attraction | "Feeling Green at Stanley Park"
Leaving the Sylvia Hotel, we turned right and in about a minute we were in Stanley Park: 1,000 acres of trees, grass, and foot and bike paths. One path follows the perimeter of the park, allowing you to walk, bike, or rollerblade along the waterfront the whole way round. Alternatively, well marked trails weave in and out of the park. Most of it is forested but areas on the eastside are set aside for attractions such as cricket, an aquarium, and a rose garden.
As we walked north towards Third Beach we could see signs of the damage left by the windstorms that swept through the park in December 2006. The park was closed to the public for a while but repair work must have been very swift as paths were clear and any areas of damage were clearly marked or fenced off.
Along the water we spotted herons fishing in the shallows. Closer to Siwash Rock we saw a cautious raccoon scampering through the ivy although he gathered up enough courage to investigate closer to the footpath. We turned back at Siwash Rock, stopping to admire the manmade, gravity-defying rock towers that have been constructed close to Second Beach.
The following day we drove over to the Totem Poles at Brockton Point, reportedly the most visited tourist attraction in all of British Columbia. Parking is easy to come by although there is a charge ($1.85US / hour or $6.48US / day) but to see the Totem Poles is free. The group of about eight poles are set at the edge of a lawn park, with a back drop of tall bright trees. Just to the north of them you get a wide view of Burrard Inlet and the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
Whichever route you follow through or around Stanley Park, one piece of advice I can offer is "don’t forget your camera", as the views from any side are quite phenomenal.
843 Avison Way
Vancouver, British Columbia V5K 1A1
The first indication that this isn’t quite a backcountry experience is the $25 USD entrance fee, somewhat steep for a place where some trails are under construction and off limits to visitors. Staff dressed in 1800s period costume hand out maps at the entrance. They look a little out of place once you get into the park, where displays are neatly signed, footpaths look newly bricked, and where the souvenir shop is manned by a giant (fake) stuffed bear sporting a bright red jacket and Mountie hat. I wonder how many years it will be until they have Donald Duck helping 5 year olds onto the bridge.
The history boards past the entrance talk about George Grant Mackay, the Scottish civil engineer who was responsible for the first Capilano Bridge. We skipped over some of them and walked on to admire the beautiful collection of totem poles, placed there in the 1930s.
From the Totem Park, you turn the corner to the bridge that stretches out across the sparkling Capilano River. According to one information board, the bridge is about the same width as two 747 planes placed wing tip to wing tip and at 300 feet (70m) high it probably isn’t ideal for vertigo sufferers. As soon as you step onto the bridge you can feel the sway caused by the many other pairs of feet walking back and forth. On the other side, the map indicates different areas of interest, the main draw being the Treetops Adventure, a series of walkways suspended some 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor. It’s great for kids but given its popularity, you don’t really feel that it puts you much closer to nature. You supposedly get a "squirrel’s eye view" of the forest but in the process you probably end up scaring away the squirrels and any other woodland creatures that might normally hang out in the trees.
Unfortunately the "Rainforest" area was closed but we found that the views from the Cliffhanger Walk and Canyon Lookout (back on the other side of the bridge) were by far the most interesting and spectacular. Along the Cliffhanger Walk you can see where an old log slide allowed loggers to drop fallen trees down into the river below.
Capilano is definitely a fun day trip, particularly for young families. Whilst we appreciated the views and the history lessons, I really hope that it doesn’t develop into a park so structured that the natural foundations eventually take second place to their efforts to increase tourist revenue.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
3735 Capilano Road
Vancouver, British Columbia V7R 4J1
Attraction | "Shopping Local at Capers Community Market"
It was 4pm and the giant brunch from Locus had held us over well but we were feeling a bit peckish. After about 30 seconds deliberation, we decided to turn back up Robson and see what Capers had to offer. We came out with a bowl of spicy carrot soup, a Brie, roast apple and turkey sandwich, a box of Green and Blacks organic butter biscuits, and a resolve to return the following morning to sample one of their giant muffins for breakfast.
Capers is one of those lovely supermarkets that makes you feel like you’re saving the world just by shopping there. I know I’m not, but you can’t help but feel fit, healthy and eco-friendly just by being there, even if it is for coffee, cookies and muffins! We got a latte, a drip coffee and two muffins, one cranberry-orange and the other one was full of berries. The tops resembled flying saucers and they looked almost too good to eat. My drip coffee and muffin came as part of a combo deal, making it a lot cheaper than the latte and muffin. We sat outside at their bar where we were kept very warm by outdoor heat lamps (I know, probably not the most environmentally friendly way of keeping out the cold!). Even though Capers is on a busy road, you feel enclosed and it’s a nice coffee or lunch stop with family, friends, or alone with a newspaper. It’s also a great place to get away from the hustle of Robson Street and to really feel like part of the local community.
Capers has four store locations: West Vancouver, Kitsilano, Robson and Cambie, and they’re open from 8am to 9/10pm. www.capersmarkets.com
1675 Robson St
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 1C8
+1 604 687 5288; +1
London, United Kingdom