Summer is hot on our heels, so design your own food course in the sunny months ahead with these “best of” restaurant reviews.
Best Breakfast: Secret Garden (www.secretgardentea.com).
This cheerful Kerrisdale tearoom is a welcome refuge and sweet retreat from epistemology and all things Diogenes Allen. Get a pot of vanilla almond tea ($3.95) and the simplicity platter for breakfast ($6.95; eggs your way, seasoned home fries, toast, raspberry jam) and you will not be disappointed. Two big pluses: the genuinely pleasant servers will graciously allow you to linger, and the food will fill you up for two meals. Finish your breakfast off with a lemon tart from the dessert tray. If you really want to treat yourself, the high tea service is a dainty blast ($26.95).
Best Atmosphere: Sanafir (www.sanafir.ca)
Exotic Middle Eastern tapas await you at this swoon-worthy restaurant downtown on Granville. 25-foot high ceilings, handmade chandeliers, pillar candles in sconces covering the entire wall, and a second floor seating area with couches and pillows complete the decadent atmosphere. Intriguing flavor combinations pique your taste buds’ interest—quinoa salad with roasted root vegetables and a garlic balsamic vinaigrette, sweet potato korma served with mango chutney, and my favorite—the chicken, chorizo, and poached egg salad accented with sweet caramelized onions and a paprika honey vinaigrette ($7.50). Sanafir exceeds the translation of its understated Arabic name—‘meeting place’—in this sumptuous Moroccan-inspired lounge.
Best Hole-in-the-Wall: Legendary Noodle (www.legendarynoodle.ca)
In Chinese culture, long noodles symbolize long life, and if the homemade noodles at this Denman Street establishment have anything to say, you can start calling yourself Methuselah. Bird cages, red silk cushions, and roiling steam from noodle pots in the open kitchen will tantalize your eyes as you enter this enchanting hole-in-the-wall. Order thick, thin, or flat noodles with sauces ranging from lemon garlic to creamy peanut (my favorite, $9). The generous portions will give you plenty of energy to take a delightful evening stroll along the water after dinner.
Best Overall: Tuscany Restaurant (www.tuscanypizza.com).
Oh man, I love this place. A dinner at Tuscany is well worth the 20-minute ferry ride to its location on Bowen Island. A homey trattoria with dark, creaky wood floors, candles, three levels and two kitchens, and owners who are passionate about high-quality local food. Order the Diavola pizza (kalamata olives, roasted garlic, and local sausage, $13) and the Toscana salad for two ($13), which is a beautiful taste explosion of sweet pears, shaved Parmigiano cheese, marinated artichokes, rich red sundried tomatoes, and a homemade house dressing. And hey, maybe pop up to Rivendell for a retreat while you’re at it.
Best Pre-Tutorial Drink: Brown’s Social House (www.brownsrestaurantgroup.com)
So, class ends at 4 pm. Tutorial starts at 5 pm. Do you honestly think you’ll get any work done in the next hour (this is all hypothetical, of course)? Instead, catch the 99 to 10th and Alma and pop into Brown’s Social House for a peach Bellini ($4). Sweet, cold, and spiced up with a sour candy on the rim. If you have time for food, the cowboy salad with its candied walnuts, edamame, and surprising honey-lime vinaigrette ($5.95) and fettuccine carbonara ($9.95) with sweet peas and blackened chicken are well-seasoned and filling.