A couple of weeks ago, I travelled to the west coast for business (you won’t read about business here, promise). As we all know, all work and no play makes for a dull story so I did my best to keep myself as occupied as possible. I spent the hours between work and sleep finding restaurants and bars that would allow me to continue my Montreal “Day Job Night Lifestyle”. I didn’t want to get homesick.
A major highlight was “The Flying Pig” (www.theflyingpigvan.com), a self described nouveau Canadian bistro, located in the trendy Yaletown district, with some simply prepared dishes (I recommend the Mount Lehman roasted half chicken, the sauce was amazing). The eager waiter took our order and brought us a pretty good bottle of red wine to get started. The restaurant stands out amongst a saturation of cookie cutter chains that seem to be everywhere in Vancouver. The décor is pretty simple. The use of raw materials such as rough wooden surfaces and exposed brick (right on current trends with Montreal) make for a warm and inviting environment.
As far as bars go, Vancouver has no shortage but as with everything, it’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with. I had the most fun at “1181” on Davie Street (1181 Davie). With $4.00 pints on a Thursday night, how could you go wrong? I went there with a few friends and with the best of intentions I meant to get back to my hotel by 10pm as I had to be up early the next morning. That didn’t happen (due to some bad influence), but I have no regrets about getting home a little later than planned. It’s hard to go back to a boring hotel when you’re having fun!
“1181” is pretty sleek, built narrow in the front with a wider sitting area in the rear. Space is limited just about everywhere in the bar, but, as far as I’m concerned, the best bars are the ones with the least amount of space (perfect for cramming people into). My only gripe with this place was the wall sized screen that played terrible movies. With all the distractions we have on a daily basis, it would be great to get away from all the screens for an hour or two.
During my stay in Vancouver, I also found a few good Irish pubs such as “Doolins” (654 Nelson) and “The Winking Judge” (888 Burrard) where I met up with a few friends. Both pubs remain true to what we have come to expect from an Irish pub. Good grub and a cool pint – universal simplicity. At each of these places I sampled different local micro brewery beers from Granville Island Brewers. Vancouver seems to have as many micro breweries as they have coffee shops (so many Starbucks!).
Vancouver is a beautiful city with some of the most amazing scenery in Canada. The towering buildings are dwarfed by the snow-capped Rockies and the Pacific Ocean wraps around the city which is teeming with people who don’t seem take the fresh air for granted. In ten years I’ve only been back to the city twice, but I won’t be waiting ten more years for my next visit. There’s too much to see and do!