Let's do lunch: festive restaurants for a holiday treat in Vancouver

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Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a warm, inviting room with people dear to you, raising a glass of bubbly and enjoying a lovely festive meal. If you want to treat yourself to something elegant and luxurious this season, a lunch out might just be the thing.

The intimate space of Forage (1300 Robson Street, 604-661-1400) is adorned with simple, rustic holiday decorations that match the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability in the kitchen. Normally closed weekdays for lunch, Forage is open Wednesday to Friday until December 20. During this time, it’s offering a $28 per person four-course lunch served family-style that includes a grilled kale salad, a charcuterie board, a choice of roasted Fraser Valley turkey or hay-smoked pork rack roast, and sticky toffee pudding. There’s a four-person minimum, and reservations are essential. As well, each guest will take home a jar of chef Chris Whittaker’s cranberry preserves.
(Also open for brunch on weekends, December 25, and January 1. Closed December 26.)

Amid the hype surrounding new restaurants, long-running Le Crocodile (100–909 Burrard Street, 604-669-4298) tends to get lost in the mix, but there’s nothing more fitting than tradition over the holidays. Pretend you’ve escaped for a wintry Parisian lunch in the restaurant’s classic, refined surroundings. Start with lobster bisque or escargots baked in garlic butter and served in pastry shells, and then move on to steak tartare with pommes frites and toast points or grilled beef tenderloin with a béarnaise or peppercorn sauce. The warm chocolate cake with orange reduction and nougatine ice cream is the perfect finish.
(Open for lunch Monday to Friday. Closed December 24 for dinner, December 25 and 26, and January 1; closed Sundays.)

West (2881 Granville Street, 604-738-8938) offers a welcoming modern space for holiday conviviality. “It’s a very festive room for lunch. We have a lot of skylights, so natural light piles into the dining room,” says Owen Knowlton, restaurant and wine director, during a phone chat. Knowlton says most lunch guests opt for a three-course meal, whether it’s the $29 prix fixe option or à la carte selections like West Coast oysters with elderflower mignonette or an albacore tuna salad. His favourite dessert is the chocolate parfait sandwich with white chocolate sour cream mousse, hazelnut wafers, and raspberry compote. On weekends, there are extra brunch options.
(Closed December 26 and January 1.)

The spectacular views of Burrard Inlet from the airy, modern Miku (70–200 Granville Street, 604-568-3900) will remind you why you stayed in Vancouver for December. Start by sharing the Coal Harbour platter of fresh oysters, clams, mussels, poke, ceviche, and more before moving on to a selection of aburi (flame-seared) sushi. Mains include miso-baked sablefish with baby bok choy, organic brown rice with hijiki, wasabi pickles, and a yuzu-miso reduction. The Miku Zen option places you in the hands of the chefs, who will select four items from the kitchen and five from the sushi bar, as well as giving you miso soup. Desserts have a Japanese twist, such as Green Tea Opera, with green tea génoise.
(Closed December 25 and January 1, and closed for lunch December 26.)

Also with scenic views of Burrard Inlet—but from the other side of the water—is the Beach House at the foot of Dundarave Pier (150 25th Street, West Vancouver, 604-922-1414). Settle in for a West Coast–style festive lunch with a creamy, local fish-and-seafood chowder or Salt Spring Island mussels and manila clams in a red curry, coconut, kaffir lime, and lemongrass broth. Popular mains include Rossdale Farms’ free-range chicken breast stuffed with herb goat cheese and served with barley risotto and asparagus. End your meal with pear and cranberry crumble with vanilla-bean gelato.
(Closed December 25 and for dinner on December 24.)

MARKET by Jean-Georges (3rd floor, 1115 Alberni Street, 604-695-1115) is a contemporary urban oasis with its blond wood accents and modern white pendant and chandelier lights. “We are a casual restaurant in an elegant setting,” explains restaurant manager David Auer over the phone. Auer is partial to starting with the steelhead salmon sashimi with crispy rice, chipotle emulsion, and scallions before a main course of Parmesan-crusted organic chicken with salsify and lemon-basil butter. Desserts include a spiced apple cake with cinnamon custard and apple cider sorbet.
(Open every day for lunch, with brunch on weekends. On December 24 and 25, there will be a three-course $49 lunch instead of the regular à la carte menu. Closed December 26.)

And of course, be sure to make reservations for your festive lunch—or two.

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