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Vancouver, Banff, Jasper: Part I

Mr Grub | Jun 11, 200211:49 AM

The Great White Grub & La Grubbe recently returned from a brilliant trip through a bit of western Canada. Our hounding experience was consistently – and surprisingly – most excellent.

Vancouver: Late lunched at Joe Forte’s (because it was there, & so were we). Splendid Malpeque & Balon oysters, then shared a grilled halibut/french fries plate. Superbly simple all around. Great room: classic chop house setting – like old New York. …Lunched at Bridges on Granville Island – again because we were there. Restaurant kinda turned us off, so we opted for the downstairs pub. Again, simple, but spot-on fare: excellent rendition of fish & chips featuring lightly battered halibut & crispy & abundant french fries. Plus a simple – not terribly inspired, but tasty – shellfish soup. Just right with a few cold local brews. …Dined at Il Giardino du Umberto & at Café de Paris Bistro. On day 1, La Lumiere was booked, day 2, closed. Il Giardino another pleasant surprise. Terrific Tuscan feel to the room, splendid food. To-die-for seared foie gras from Quebec tasted every bit as good as best we’ve had in France. Quail w mushroom risotto on the money & venison chop special (in Gorgonzola’d wine reduction sauce) also excellent. Umberto may be less attentive to his stores, but seems to have trained his kitchen well. …Dinner at Café de Paris Bistro. La Grubbe, a cassoulet freakette, thoroughly enjoyed hers – loaded with duck, lamb (surprise), and meaty lardons bubbling in wonderful haricots blancs. M. Grub pigged out on the C$35 prix fixe – hot quail & foie gras pate salad, steak (not exactly tender, but flavorful) frites & profiteroles. A crème brulee after a bottle ‘o Bordeaux, then a coupla black muscats & we really needed the short walk to our hotel. One serious misstep – our waiter blithely attempted to pour us a ’98 vintage of our first wine choice when we ordered a ’96. Very bad form. The proprietor was duly chagrined & highly solicitous for the rest of the evening -- & comped a drink (or was it 2?). Loved Vancouver & its culinary delights. Already planning our return to hit up our now-lengthy list of things to do & places to try.

Victoria: Took full-day Grayline tour, so not a whole lot of chowing to be done. One meal -- the buffet at Kipling’s in the Empress Hotel. Wide selection of the foods that played an integral role in the fall of the British Empire. Mundane stuff like bubble & squeak, bangers & mash, mediocre curries & other Indian mainstays, even a Scotch eggs in all their, um, glory. Lots of comfort desserts, tho. All in all, a satisfying & sustaining (we were starving by the time we got to the harbor after Butchart Gardens, et al) meal in a lovely room in a dazzling hotel.

Rocky Mountaineer: Took the two-day Rocky Mountaineer “Gold Leaf Service” train to Calgary. Billed as “gourmet,” food not exactly so, due in large measure I’m certain to the limitations of a tiny, tiny moving kitchen. Well-selected “Canadian” food, very nicely presented & prepared. Many cuts above the train food we remember, but well below the Il Giardino level. No real complaints. Downright awful meal in Kamloops overnight at a place called Teasers or Wheezers or Uncle Bucko’s or The Bedpost or something.

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