Although Vancouver has slipped into the winter doldrums weather-wise, there is nothing depressing about the current food and wine scene in this city.  New restaurants continue to appear and the newest crop includes a couple of upscale vegetarian spots.  These range from a tiny room just East of Main on Union Street, The Parker, to South Granville’s Heirloom, located in a larger spot on 12th Avenue that had housed Primo’s Mexican Grill for decades.  Both have menus well beyond the usual rice bowls and tofu, taking Vancouver’s vegetarian scene to new heights.

Casual seafood is still all the rage and the Glowbal Group is capitalizing on the trend by replacing their Granville Street restaurant, Sanafir, with The Fish Shack.  Serving up buck-a-shuck oysters during happy hour, stellar fish and chips, chowders, steamers and even a prime rib burger, this spot is making a big splash with those wanting a casual evening out without too much damage to the wallet.

Gastown continues its revitalization at 12 Powell Street, with a new bistro named after the owner’s mother, Lily Mae’s.  They serve up comfort food such as Beef Bourguignon and Chocolate Guinness Cake.  Nearby the strangely-named Secret Location has gone for a more luxurious feel, serving up dishes such as Stuffed Lamb Saddle and Polderside Duck on the restaurant side and fashions from Canadian and International designers in the boutique.  Further east in Chinatown, East of Main is drawing in diners with their charming cafe/restaurant and stellar cocktail list just under revamp now by Bar Chef Colin Turner.

Most of Robson Street remains filled with brand name shops, but there’s still hope for diners looking for something a little more authentic with the impending opening of Forage at the Listel Hotel.  This is a totally sustainable restaurant from the front of the house to the back and will serve up seasonal, local cuisine foraged from the nearby growing regions of the Lower Mainland.  Chef Chris Whittaker is at the helm and his culinary wizardry and key relationships with suppliers will ensure this project’s success. 

Keep in mind the dates February 25 – March 3, 2013 for the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Book now for over 56 special events with a theme region of California and a focus on Chardonnay.