One thing we're not short of in Vancouver is great waterfront dining. However, there aren't many spots (with the notable exception of Granville Island) where you can hop on a ferry for lunch or dinner. We've long felt the Seabus is one of Vancouver's unsung scenic deals-and one more reason to make the short voyage across to newly launched Pier 7 Restaurant + Bar, located a few steps from Lonsdale Quay in front of the recently opened Pinnacle Hotel.
Dwarfed by a restored Gantry crane, the stand-alone restaurant is a rarity on the North Van waterfront, and even though open only a few weeks is already a popular spot. No surprise: it's a dazzling location, one of the few in Metro Vancouver that boasts a southern exposure, as well as dramatic harbour views across to downtown.
In the hands of seasoned chef Dino Renaerts (ex-Fraîche, Beachside Forno, Diva at the Met), the menu adds up to a balance of gently formal but casual West Coast familiarity that appeals to locals and tourists alike. An emphasis on seafood roams from West Coast seafood nachos ($20), or well presented fresh oysters on the half shell, to a superb, maple-and miso-glazed sablefish with edamame, Japanese Shiimeji mushrooms, new potatoes and dashi broth ($28).
On the carnivorous side, there's plenty to please, including lamb sirloin with grilled vegetables and panisse ($34), and equally tempting grilled rib eye with frîtes and sautéed mushrooms ($34).
These are classically grounded, ingredient-driven plates that allow their freshness to show through, while well-matched wines (the chef is also a certified sommelier) favour family run and "eco-conscious" offerings.
The room is clad in earth tones with tiered levels that take full advantage of the views-although with the current heat wave it pays to get there early for a prime spot on the waterside patio. Opening imminently is a second-level bar with covered deck that will no doubt prove an equally stellar destination.
Details: Pier 7, 25 Wallace Mews, 604-929-7437 (PIER), open for lunch Monday to Friday, brunch Saturday and Sunday, dinner nightly. Lounge open seven days from 11: 30 a.m.
Coming up faster than you think, Feast of Fields is the remarkable FarmFolk CityFolk al fresco fundraiser that sells out way ahead of time. This year's extravaganza-featuring metro Vancouver restos, chefs, bakers, fishers, farmers, brewers, vintners and more-takes place Sunday, Sept. 9 at Golden Ears Cheesecrafters in Maple Ridge. Grab a ride on the return shuttle from downtown. Tickets and details at feastoffields.com.
Just announced: The 2012 Lieutenant Governor's Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines (full disclosure, I'm a judge). Winners of note included double-award-winner Painted Rock (Syrah '09, Icon Red Blend '09) and first timers Gold Hill (Cab Franc '09), Hester Creek (Reserve Merlot '08), Eau Vivre (Pinot Noir '09) and Ruby Blues (Viognier 2011). Plus Jackson-Triggs (Entourage Sparkling '08), Road 13 (Jackpot White '11), Thornhaven Estate (Gewurztraminer '11), Laughing Stock (Syrah '10), Poplar Grove (Cab Franc '09). The best way to find them? At the wineries.