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Six Valentine’s lunch or dinner splurges in Vancouver

When it comes to romance, Vancouver is hard to beat.

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When it comes to romance, Vancouver is hard to beat. Nestled on the wild Pacific Ocean and embraced by BC’s Coast Mountains, it is one of the most romantic cities in the world.

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Surrounded by water on three sides and clad in lush rainforest, it owes its magic to its dramatic natural setting. For lovers who want to enhance their romance with fine dining, Vancouver offers an outstanding variety of restaurants, from high-end to down-home with public markets, ethnic food outposts and award-winning wines from BC’s wine regions.

Here are my favorite recommendations for a sumptuous Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner:

Le Crocodile (909 Burrard St.)

Le Crocodile ages like a grande dame: classic and elegant – this is the graceful restaurant of French-born chef and owner Michel Jacob. Everyone orders Jacob’s hearty onion tart, his made-to-order steak tartare and sole in a beurre blanc. But other classics such as veal medallions and duck confit also pay tribute to tradition. The fries are the best in town. The professional service, European atmosphere and predominantly French wine list make a meal at Le Crocodile an unforgettable experience.

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Tojos (1133 West Broadway)

Sushi lovers delight in this renowned restaurant, whose acclaim attracts both celebrities and local sushi fanatics. Sit at the 10-seat sushi bar while the beaming chef/owner Hidekazu Tojo, known respectfully as Tojo-san, tantalizes your taste buds with Tojo’s tuna or a “BC Roll” (grilled salmon skin, scallions, cucumber and daikon). . Combine your dinner with sake flights from $28. For a real treat, order Omakase, a curated selection of hot and cold dishes starting at $120.

Hawksworth (801 West Georgia St.)

David Hawksworth, who has worked with many leading chefs in London, England, returned to his Vancouver roots and is one of the city’s top chefs. (He met his lovely wife, Annabel, while he was there.) His modern, innovative cuisine is colourful, elegant and the presentation impeccable. You’ll want to share “KFC” (Korean Fried Cauliflower) but not the seafood stew. I thought I made the most delicious cioppino (pronounced cho-PEE-no), but its juicy base is the best I’ve ever tasted. The impressive wine list offers a well selected selection and has received many awards. 50% discount on wines for lunch and dinner from Sunday to Thursday. The service is seamless. Hawksworth also designs business class menus for Air Canada.

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Giardino (1328 Hornby St.)

Romantics love Umberto Menghi’s charming Tuscan restaurant with its vaulted ceilings, Tuscan tiles, flickering candlelight – and its wonderful Florentine-style courtyard for al fresco dining in summer. His focus has always been reinventing traditional pasta and hearty game dishes in a lighter, more contemporary style: try tagliolini with king prawns and saffron, tender oven-braised veal and an unbeatable tiramisu. The service is some of the best in town, so by the end of the night you’ll feel like you could be, even if you’re not the glitterati. The wine list also offers an impeccable Italian selection.

Blue Water Cafe (1095 Hamilton Street)

I can’t think of a better way to spend a more romantic evening than bar-hopping at this posh Yaletown eatery with chef Frank Pabst at the helm. Your first stop in this 100-year-old converted warehouse: the main bar, with an eclectic cocktail menu featuring rare brandies and tequilas. Next up: the raw bar for edamame and chilled sake. Finally, settle into plush banquets in the dining room for the two-story seafood tower, piled high with oysters, shrimp, tuna, tartare, jellyfish ceviche, clams and mussels. For dessert you might want to order a light sorbet trio with fresh berries.

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Rodney’s Oyster House (1228 Hamilton St., 52 Powell St.)

Constantly offering a seemingly endless parade of oysters – that’s the reason to visit this unpretentious fish house and bar. While the slogan is “The lemon, the oyster and your lips are all that is required,” you can choose one of several sauces instead of having your oysters plain. There is also a selection of creamy chowders, steamed mussels and clams and locally sourced Dungeness crabs. There are a few tables upstairs but the downstairs bar is where the action is. Prices are moderate, especially given the trendy locations in Yaletown and Gastown. Ask the crew about the daily fish specials.

The annual VCC Wine and Food Gala returns

The Vancouver Community College Foundation is pleased to announce the return of Flourish, the college’s signature annual gala and fundraising event.

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After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Flourish returns bigger and tastier than ever – with elite tastings from Naramata Bench Wineries, local craft beer pairings, food designed and prepared by top local chefs, and music inspired by the performed by leading artists and industry alumni, all in support of higher education programs and student advancement. Tickets cost $175.

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