I’m back in Vancouver and lodging at the uber-chic Opus Hotel in Yaletown. Things have changed in the last seven and a half weeks since I’ve been gone.
The construction for the RAV line by the hotel is complete, there is a new bike lane on the Burrard Bridge, and Coast Restaurant moved to Alberni Street.
Since I haven’t seen the new Coast yet, I was really glad to be invited by them to experience it. I also knew we’d be visiting Campagnolo Restaurant the next night, which is a completely different food tasting experience, so I was looking forward to comparing them.
Emad Yacoub greeted us with a giant smile and a handshake when we walked into his illustrious reinvention of what appears to mimic the ocean floor. He’s relocated his oldy-but-goody institution called Coast Restaurant from yuppie Yaletown to nutty Alberni Street, and big fish are frying on the grill.
The two-storey room was filled with people of influence: From NHL hockey players to Vancouver’s top players of another kind, the sounds of the smooth swaying motion of that days’ daily catch was clearly audible. We especially loved the O Lounge, a darker and sexier version of the dining room. (“Think L.A.,” says Emad.)
Our table was front row-centre of the mezzanine-level dining room and overlooked the 20-foot circular raw bar (homage to San Francisco’s seafood houses) giving us plenty to look at throughout the evening.
Now being able to compare (firsthand) our Atlantic and Pacific seafood selections, I have to admit the Chef’s Selection Sushi Plate and the crab cakes were both some of the most stunning and innovative dishes I’ve enjoyed.
Think. Raw scallops, salmon and tuna tossed in a tangy sauce overtop of avocado pure for the sushi, and a crumble-in-your-mouth flaky crab nugget for the cakes.
Sharing our seafood plate with us was my friend Morgan Sommerville, one of the most dynamic ladies around (and also a PR rep for the project). Helping us dive into the sable fish, prawn, halibut and salmon platter, we had some good laughs with Morgan at the table. (Good company is always important!)
Last night, for our “last supper,” we moved inland onto a more rustic turf, so to speak. Located on the lower end of Main Street by the Ivanhoe, we joined Kevin Chong (our dear friend from the Walrus and other debacles), and rep Tiffany Soper to get “cured” at Campagnolo.
The look of the earthy wood-and-felt paneled hallway and contemporary décor of twisted hanging light bulbs and exposed concrete walls was refreshing, while the food was nostalgic. Representing the Piedmont and Emiglia-Romagna regions in Italy, the casual-and-tasty menu boasts something for everyone.
First, we tried a dish close to my heart: the ceci. The deep-fried chickpeas with mint and citrus were destroyed in under a few minutes. Next, the Cure Salumi, an assortment plate of fatty, oily and salty house cured meats filled us up before we could say, grazie. (As a side, Tim Pittman, a partner and frontman of the restaurant is brilliantly entertaining. His Italian accent could’ve fooled any real Italian hanging out at Calabria Bar on Commercial Street.)
Since we were doing the dinner family-style, we shared plates of Tagliarini with pulled pork (perfectly al dente), a Salsiccia Pizza, a special pasta dish that would’ve made my ex’s mother blush, and a dish of Slopping Hill’s pork roast with green beans. Anyone full yet?
Blogging for the second to last time as my journey comes to an end, I think the diverse menus of the last two restaurants perfectly summarize our Canadian culinary adventures. There couldn’t be a more memorable and delicious way to end the feast (for now).
A toast to change and my hometown!
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