Welcome back to my recap of all the food and fun I consumed in the Pacific Northwest! Yesterday, we left off with a beautiful bike ride through Stanley Park in Vancouver. All of that biking (as well as an uphill hike to see an incredibly underwhelming hollowed-out tree) worked up a thirst, so we stopped in at Cactus Club Cafe for a few rounds of cocktails.
Drinks at this place included a strawberry martini finished with black pepper, and beers topped with a splash of frozen peach bellini. All of this sounds strange, but it was all strangely good! I’m a black pepper fanatic, so a cocktail that included it was something I had to try. It was refreshing with a bracing bite, and has inspired me to start coming up with my own peppery cocktails at home.
My favorite thing about vacationing in a different time zone? You can deem it “snack time!” whenever you want. Because, hey, “at home, it’s like, totally dinner time right now!” And no snack option in Vancouver says “I’m a tourist!” like Japadog. But, it was literally in front of our hotel, so we had to try it!
After surveying all of the crazy combinations, I settled on a classic #1, which was touted as one of the “101 Things To Taste Before You Die,” according to….an unidentified source. The huge hot dog topped with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, onion and seaweed was definitely unlike any hot dog I’d ever had before. I was surprise how much seaweed flavor there was! Almost a month later, I’m still not sure what to think of Japadog, other than whoa…that was strange.
Shortly after finishing, I realized my Japadog was much more than a snack. I had definitely spoiled my dinner. This turned out to be a not so bad thing – a fancy dinner wasn’t in the cards for us that night. You see, an unexpected (when we were planning it) part of our vacation was wandering around Vancouver and Seattle, looking for sports bars that would let us watch our beloved Detroit Tigers in playoff games (a venture that ultimately proved somewhat useless, as the Tigers failed to make it to the World Series).
After Japadog, we headed to G Sports Bar & Grill, where the extremely friendly bartenders hooked us up with a TV to watch the game. Even when the bar filled with Canucks-crazed hockey fans, they let us cling to our TV, and we even ran into some fellow Tigers fans in town from Windsor, Ontario. We spent the evening at this fun place, cheering our Tigers to a win, getting weird looks from fellow bar patrons wondering why the heck we were watching American baseball, drinking cheap beer, and eating bar snacks like poutine for a “light” dinner.
Day Three marked our final full day in Vancouver, but I’m pretty sure I could have stayed in town for a full month, and kept busy the whole time. First up, we wanted to find a lunch spot near our hotel, and Yelp directed us to a place called Hubbub Sandwich Bliss. The gimmick about Hubbub? They only serve one sandwich. You get your option of protein (I chose pork), but after that, each sandwich is made the same way – with pickled jalapenos, creamy garlic sauce, romaine lettuce, cilantro, and caramelized onions on toasted baguette. I thought it was a bold move for any restaurant, offering one entree and one entree only. I was expecting to be blown away by The Sandwich for this reason. It was good, it wasn’t amazing. I’d probably eat there again, but it was by no means the best sandwich I’d ever had or anything.
Speaking of not being blown away, after The Sandwich, we took a bus out to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I had read about this in various guidebooks, and thought it sounded like a fun outdoor activity. The park consists of a giant walkable suspension bridge that sways and moves quite a bit as you walk across it, something called a Cliffwalk which is supposed to be a “heart-stopping cliffside journey,” and another activity called “Treetops Adventure.” Let’s just say that I thought the park was about $10 worth of adventure/fun, but really cost like $30/person. The suspension bridge was exciting to walk across (would be scary if you are afraid of heights), but the Treetops Adventure was barely two stories off the ground, and the Cliffwalk was anything but “heart-stopping.” A good spot to see some of the beauty of a rain forest right there outside Vancouver, but perhaps not tops on my list of recommended sites in the city.
I was hoping our time in Vancouver would end on a high note, and it certainly did at the Blue Water Cafe in the Yaletown district. Multiple sources touted it as the best restaurant in the city, and it did not disappoint. I just loved the interior design of the restaurant – open and modern, with a view into the kitchen, the raw bar and the sushi bar. Our server was really helpful in helping us pick out our meals, and it was an overall great experience. We started the meal with a selection of oysters from British Columbia (the first oysters of what would soon become an oyster-crazed trip in Seattle). Blue Water Cafe served some of the best oysters of the trip – super plump and fresh. They needed spicier horseradish, though (my only complaint about this place!)
For dinner, I had a fish I had never tried before – Artic Char. It was seared so the skin was edible and super crispy, and served over a unique combination of pearl couscous and trout caviar (they were both the same size and shape! so cool!), with a beurre blanc sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked, and it was as delicious as the presentation was beautiful. We finished our meal with a few desserts that were expertly prepared by the pastry chef. The Blue Water Cafe was definitely one of the “splurge” meals of the trip, but if you love fresh seafood, it’s worth every penny.
With our bellies full of seafood, we hit the hay. We had to get up before dawn the next morning for a train ride to Seattle! To be continued…
Restaurants + Bars We Visited & What We Ordered:
- Cactus Club Cafe – Cohiba Cocktail. Perfect Double Cuervo Margarita. Dirty Vegas Martini.
- Japadog – Kurobuta Terimayo. Spicy Cheese Terimayo.
- G Sports Bar & Grill – Lots of Beer. Poutine. Dill Pickle Fries. Cheap Shots Because Something Happened on a Hockey Game.
- Hubbub Sandwich Bliss The Sandwich (Pork / Turkey Sausage). Quinoa Salad. Clean Slaw. Potato Chips.
- Blue Water Cafe – Assorted British Columbia Oysters. Artic Char. Qualicom Bay Scallops. Halibut Special.
- Vancouver, Part 1: Sushi Bella. Winking Judge Pub. Gastown. Pourhouse. Nero Belgian Waffle Bar. Stanley Park.
- Vancouver, Part 2: Cactus Club Cafe. Japadog. G Sports Bar & Grill. Hubbub Sandwich Bliss. Capilano Suspension Bridge. Yaletown. Blue Water Cafe.
- Seattle, Part 1: Serious Pie. The Whisky Bar. Seattle Coffee Works. Moore Coffee Shop. Storyville Coffee Company. Caffe D’Arte. Original Starbucks. Chihuly Garden & Glass. Space Needle. Lola. Seattle Waterfront. Elliott’s Oyster House.
- Seattle, Part 2: Pike Place Market. Market Grill. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Post Alley. Gum Wall. Pike Brewing Company. Cutter’s Crabhouse. Seatown.