The immense and welcome success of Vancouver's food carts has the Hired Belly musing on the fortunes of regular bricks and mortar, un-axled lunch spots. It's no secret that downtown restaurants have taken a hit since the arrival of the ubiquitous bite-on-the run. Food cart temptations include everything from FreshLocalWild (Burrard and Hastings), where albacore tuna melts fly off chef Josh Wolfe's terrace-adorned eco-friendly truck, which is also available for private functions, to mouth-watering Middle Eastern barbecued wraps from Mangal Kiss (Georgia at Howe).
However, a lunchtime visit to Yaletown's Bistro Sakana (1123 Mainland St., 604-633-1280) suggests that restaurants that know what they're doing have nothing to fear from the food cart boom.
Arrive at Sakana and you'll be greeted and seated in seconds, under the heated patio if you choose to take in the passing scene. Soothed by a relentless supply of piping hot green tea, the mood is less frenetic than most Japanese spots.
A parade of immaculately presented, though not complicated, small plates add up to a delicious, underrated midday bite. Miso soup, sunomono salad and dynamite roll arrive in prompt succession, followed by the principal plate of the daily special-in our case tender chicken teriyaki delivered with a fresh green salad and an option of white or brown rice.
All served on china, at a spotless table, with pleasant service that's worth a decent tip. At $9.50 it's a steal.
We have it on good authority that summer has promised to arrive with a vengeance next week. When it comes to patios, while there's no shortage of the obvious, a couple more-hidden, upscale al fresco haunts have caught our attention in recent weeks.
Look up as you wander down Alberni near Bute and you'll spot Ki Modern Japanese, arguably the most well-concealed and elegant of outdoor escapes. Book in to the cedar-trimmed third floor deck for seriously good sushi (and more) courtesy of celebrated chef Yoshi Tabo.
While Rosewood Hotel Georgia's Hawksworth gets all the glory, a short trip on the elevator will deposit you (on a comfortable couch, if you wish) for brunch, cocktails or tapas at Reflections, the hotel's gorgeously appointed, fourth floor outdoor lounge-bar, named for the adjacent reflecting pool. It is, as they say, quite chi-chi, serene and not cheap, far above the madding crowd at the corner of Georgia and Howe.
Last week's passage through the House of Commons of MP Dan Albas's private members Bill C 131 to decriminalize inter-provincial wine sales by amending a 1928 act created quite the buzz. If nothing else, it's been a while since a bill passed with such unanimity.
However, despite the change to the federal law, signs are that Canada's provincially controlled liquor regulations are not going to be rolled over that easily.
Even before the ink was dry, the B.C. government sent out a press release saying that once the bill receives senate approval, British Columbians will be able to return home with one case of wine, four bottles of spirits and a combined total of six dozen bottles of beer, cider and coolers-thereby deftly ignoring the original intent of the process: to allow visitors to Canada's wine regions to ship home their purchases, or to participate in winery clubs and receive shipments accordingly.
The move to "Free My Grapes" originated when some B.C. wineries revealed they had received threats from other jurisdictions that if they didn't cease shipping wines, their products might be withdrawn from liquor store shelves.
While many do see a light at the end of the tunnel, it could still be a way off yet. Stay tuned to see just how much the "protect our turf at all costs" provinces plan to water down the effects of this wine legislation.