10 eateries to make you forget there was ever such a thing as no fun

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

Kate Zimmerman

Let’s forget that the try-too-hards want to hang this town with the pathetic name “Funcouver.” There is such a thing as Vancouver nightlife — you just have to know where to look.

1. Coast: Don’t succumb to loneliness just because you’re on your own downtown. Coast is more a restaurant than a bar; it positions many of its guests around a central square, where a chef dances attendance on them. Gobble down a platter of oysters, exchanging banter with fellow diners. Claim to be a secret agent, or a candidate for mayor; you’ll feel that important in this milieu, and they’ll never know the sordid truth. Sure beats a night in bed with The Da Vinci Code and a hot rum toddy.

2. George: This “London Ultra Lounge,” downstairs from the equally fabulous but longer-established Brix, takes special care with its cocktails. Smallish and darkish with a glowing yellow-topped bar, it’s the perfect starting or finishing spot for an evening in Yaletown. Watch for the giant “G” on the door. Cryptic signage always gives a place cachet . . . unless it’s so cryptic nobody can find the place. Not the case with George.

3. Lift: No longer fresh off the grill but still piping hot, Lift has a fantastic location — right on the waterfront in Coal Harbour, facing Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains. The ideal locale to induce envy in visitors from more wintry climes, it’s both loud and packed. A hefty wine list and plenty o’ martinis are big draws, as are Lift’s “whet plates,” sharable high-end appetizers. Try to get to the upper deck and snuggle with someone around one of Lift’s two outdoor fireplaces.

4. Lolita’s South of the Border Cantina: It’s the perfect season for a blast of Mexico. If you can’t afford the plane trip to Isla Mujeres, haul your sorry, soggy self to Lolita’s. Tequila flows here like tequila should, and the atmosphere is lively. The food gets raves from critics and regular eaters alike.

5. Nu: The latest island in Harry Kambolis’ archipelago, Nu is a skip away from C on the False Creek waterfront. Watch yachts slip by as you slug back one of Guest Spirits manager Jay Jones’s zesty cocktails. The bar also specializes in rums and has an extensive wine list. Rumour has it the chicken wings stuffed with goat cheese are outstanding.

6. Opus: Not everybody enjoys being jammed into an ersatz drinking establishment like a kipper into a can. That’s why it’s essential for a city to have more rarefied boites. Opus offers something more than elegant cocktails in a screamingly chic spot — it frequently offers celebrity eye candy. One evening while you graze on tapas you get yer Harrison Ford; the next, yer Anthony Bourdain.

7. Sip Resto-Lounge: The gimmick here is that booze laces everything on the “Resto’s” menu, from its crab cakes with Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka to its Bacardi cocoa prawns, made with coconut rum. Its list of 10 martinis is a hit. This “New York-style” lounge with marble tables offers a candlelit ambience that could be just the sexy mood-enhancer you and your date require. Deep house music dominates Sip’s CD collection.

8. Watermark: This fairly new Kits establishment was slagged for its eats early on by some critics, but you can’t beat its ocean purview. Anyway, some nights a plate of vegetarian gyoza, a glass of Blue Mountain Pinot Gris and a highly visible thong are all a person needs for excitement.

9. West: The maitre d’ at West encourages the consumption of bubbly, and who are you to argue? The restaurant’s location on South Granville, just a few pirouettes from the Stanley Industrial Stage, makes it the perfect spot for animated pre- or post-theatre get-togethers. The food is to die for, or to die of, depending how often you inhale West’s delicious foie gras.

Upcoming: a couple of venues whose openings you’ll want to watch for:

10. The Ocean Club: Managing partner Andre Thomas has been general manager of such stellar nightspots as Whistler’s Araxi. He’s teaming up with Derek Pink and Dave Kershaw, the powers behind this city’s Au Bar and others, as well as mixologist Darryl McDonald, also an Araxi alumnus. The quartet promises to whip up a night scene where there is currently nada . . . in that slumbering hamlet we call West Vancouver. With the Ocean Club, it is also dangling the pledge of an 800-square-foot heated patio with fireplace, located on the banks of the Capilano River, on the east side of Park Royal South. The Ocean Club is due to open before Christmas.

Comments are closed.