Where visiting celebrities go to dine

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Some seek privacy but others want to be seen. Here’s where you are most likely to find them

Yvonne Zacharias

Diana Krall and Elvis Costello were spotted at Bishop’s just before Christmas. Photograph by : Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Anne Hathaway

Jessica Alba

Ben Stiller

The bar at CinCin. Anne Hathaway, B e n S t i l l e r a n d Pierce Brosnan are a m o n g t h o s e t o have dined at the R o b s o n S t r e e t eatery.

At Elbow Room, the celebs are on the wall, as well as at the tables.

The next time you head out for some fine dining, take a minute to look at the table next to you. You never know who you might find.

Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Ashley Judd, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ashton Kutcher and Kathy Bates are all shooting films in town. They have to eat somewhere, don’t they?

There are a few hot spots where you could easily bump into one of them. Try the Blue Water Café, CinCin Ristorante, Tojo’s, West, Cioppinos’s and C restaurant, to name a few.

The celebrities create a certain buzz the minute they walk in. The staff loves it. The patrons love it. So do the stars.

There is a wide variance in the celebrities’ preferences. Some like to trumpet their presence. Others want to hide it. Some are sociable; some are not.

Edwyn Kumar, CinCin restaurant director, said actress Anne Hathaway was one of the sociable ones. “She was talking to people at the tables beside her and having her photos taken with them.”

All kinds of celebrities have passed through CinCin’s doors, including Aniston recently, Isaiah Washington, Canucks player Henrik Sedin, actors Ben Stiller, Jason Priestley and Pierce Brosnan and members of The Tragically Hip.

“They don’t get a different level of treatment. It just doesn’t exist,” said Kumar. “I think they appreciate that.”

He says they are drawn to the warm, welcoming ambience of the restaurant and the cooking style, which incorporates a wood oven and a wood grill.

Some are dressed superbly, especially the women, he said. “They are coming out for a nice dinner and they look fantastic.”

Kumar said the women certainly don’t starve themselves. “I don’t see them ordering a half soup and a salad for a main. They are ordering off the menu.” And the majority of the celebrities drink alcohol of some kind if they are of age.

At the Blue Water Café, restaurant director Stephan Cachard says celebrities go for appetizers and entrées that are mostly sushi, lobster and fish. They tend to drink quite a few martinis, he said, as well as beer and glasses of wine. They rarely order a whole bottle.

“I can’t remember the last time I saw one of them ordering a bottle of wine.”

Jessica Alba is a regular here. Other guests last year included Charlize Theron, Renée Zellweger and Kim Basinger. Catherine Zeta-Jones was once a guest as were Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, as well as Lucy Liu and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Cachard said they like coming here because there is an open space where they can be seen. Some actually want that. If they don’t, they can be tucked away into a quiet, intimate area.

With an open kitchen, open sushi bar and bar all on one floor, the room is very energized, said Cachard.

The celebrities sometimes order dessert, said Cachard, but that doesn’t happen often.

The Cactus Club in Yaletown is another place that draws in both athletes and actors.

General manager Kevin Banno says the restaurant/bar’s attraction is partly its location in Yaletown. It gets people away from Granville Street, which can be scary on a Saturday night.

Athletes also like that fact that everything on the menu is alterable. Hockey players often come in and order a grilled chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli, and that is okay.

Banno says the big names are drawn here by its casual, low-key atmosphere. “We don’t point any fingers.”

Sometimes the kid-glove treatment gets to be too much, even for the stars. For a dose of reality, they head to a hole-in-the-wall breakfast place Elbow Room Café on Davie Street, where owner Patrick Savoie serves them hearty portions along with some fun-filled abuse.

Even Sharon Stone doesn’t get to jump the queue here and Tom Selleck was once told to refill his own coffee.

Despite his brusque ways, Savoie is known as a man with a heart of gold. He has a rule in his place that if you don’t finish your breakfast and there is nothing wrong with the food, you have to put money in the jar to help feed people with AIDs. Since 1993, he has raised $53,600 in this way.

Savoie says half the time he doesn’t know that this actress or that actor is sitting at one of his tables.

He yearns for the old days when the stars were really big and you knew who they were.

Sometimes his staff gets all excited because members of some big band have arrived. “But to tell the truth, honey, if it isn’t someone like Tina Turner, I wouldn’t know who it is.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2008


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