Having lived on 12th in Kitsilano for about 18 months, we realised that we had never actually tried dinning out in our immediate neighbourhood!
Our first stop just off Granville Street was Vij’s restaurant, which has legendary status amongst our friends in Vancouver. We soon discovered this reputation was not limited to our immediate circle as the hostess informed us it was an hour and half wait for a table for 2 (it was Saturday night after all). To pacify our obvious disappointment, the hostess suggested that we go grab a cocktail at West Bar & Restaurant just one block away while we waited.
West Bar & Restaurant
We soon discovered that this fine dining restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a personalised pre-dinner cocktail from the “World’s Most Imaginative Bartender,” David Wolowidnyk. David won this prestigious award (to go with his many others) in a recent global competition organised by Bombay Sapphire where he wowed the judges with his Pastorini creation – a recipe of Bombay Sapphire gin, a light jasmine green tea and pink grapefruit peel infusion and a juniper berry meringue!
In the hands of a true creative cocktail making genius, our liquor preferences were discussed before our tipples of choice were carefully selected by the extremely affable bar tender (see link for full cocktail menu). While our drinks were being concocted, we were treated to a few cocktail related stories of how Jim Bean makes its various whiskeys based on the height of their storage, how mint julep is made and why peach foam is not whipping cream! However, it was hard to keep up with the cocktail education as we were both mesmerised by the speed and team work that the 2 bar tenders showed while making our drinks……it was a beautiful thing to watch two artists working in unison, all for our benefit of us! Paul’s Knob Creek whiskey, mint julep with peach foam was phenomenal, while Helena’s Kakkoii (gin and plum wine, cinnamon syrup and fresh lemon) was brilliantly refreshing.
With fascinating stories, an exhibition of some amazing cocktail making skills and great tasting original drinks (at just $12 each) it was a great way to start any evening!
Returning to Vij’s an hour later Lady Luck was on our side as we were immediately shown to a table in the centre of the dimly lit and tranquil restaurant, whose ambience was created by the excited chat of its casually dressed patrons.
Our immediate attention was drawn to the menus in front of us, where each mouth-watering dish jumped off the page. Wanting to order everything, we decided to share dishes and after some UN Security Council level negotiations involving some trading of future naan bread rights we went for the wine marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on turmeric and spinach potatoes, and BC spot prawns in coconut and fenugreek masala with wheat berry pilaf rice. The pork tenderloin in tangy cayenne and ginger curry, and braised beef short ribs with roasted okra and walnuts will have to wait for our return! We also settled on a half-litre of pinot blanc at a very reasonable $29.
Immediately on ordering we were presented with some complimentary starters, by a casually dressed but extremely happy waiter who was the most popular man in the building. Although we did not catch the name of the tasty treats, they were all brilliant on the taste buds and left us stupidly excited about the arrival of the main course!
Our beautifully presented food arrived within 10 minutes of ordering and came with phenomenal nan bread. The spot prawns in masala sauce and pilaf rice was amazingly rich in taste, and the prawns super tender and bursting with flavour. The succulent lamb cutlets were presented on the bone, and served with soft spinach potatoes in a complementing creamy sauce. Refills of naan bread and rice were available (there was no need to trade rights on these after all), as was a doggie bag.
Without doubt, it was the best Indian food we have tasted in Vancouver, and we will certainly be returning to try more of the menu. Total cost of the meal with wine was a reasonable $115 including tax and tip
The service was casual and friendly with all serving staff being happy to meet every customer’s request.
Celebration of Light
With our doggie bag safety in tow, we started the 20 minute walk to Kits beach to watch the annual celebration of light fireworks display which started at 10pm.
The festival attracts over 600,000 visitors each night so it’s wise to get there early to grab a good spot and set up your camp. This was advice we failed to follow, so we settled for some kerb grass which offered a nearly unimpeded view.
The fireworks we saw were from Thailand, and spectacularly lit up the night sky for a full 25 minutes pleasing the huge crowds on land, at sea and in the air.
A great ending to a lovely evening in and around our home on 12th – a perfect twelfth night!
Vancouver is a geographically stunning city where the coastal mountains of British Columbia meet the Pacific Ocean. The city is blessed with many beautiful natural sandy beaches which offer a great place to relax during the warmer summer months. One of the city’s most famous beaches (for reasons which will become clear as you read on) is Wreck Beach which is situated about 25 minutes’ drive from Downtown Vancouver on the University of British Columbia (UBC) peninsula.
Situated on the headland where the giant UBC campus sprawls, this place has a reputation for being Vancouver’s only clothing is optional beach. The Wreck Beach Preservation Society has more information if you want to know a little more about the naked truth.
Wreck Beach offers a great spot to watch the sunset given that it is the most westerly point in mainland Vancouver and has a spectacular backdrop provided by the mountains of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast
The beach offers some of the cleanest sea water to swim in around Vancouver given its distance from the ports and exposure to the currents / tides. Just be ready to brave a sea where the mercury reaches a maximum of 16 degrees in September!
The beach has a certain chilled and relaxed vibe, promoted by its liberal occupants!
Watch Out for….
Finding the entrance to Wreck Beach can be a challenge given that it’s somewhere on the huge UBC campus and the beach itself is about 200m below the level of the road! For those of you who are bright enough to print out a map, it’s actually located at the bottom of trails 3, 4 or 6 just off NW Marine Drive.
It can also be a challenge finding somewhere to park given the popularity of the spot on a warm’s summer’s evening. With all street parking taken we eventually stumbled upon a UBC car park which costs $6 for as long as you like after 5pm.
The next obstacle to our treasure hunt was to navigate the 300 (slight exaggeration but who’s counting when you’re gasping for air) steps down to the beach. Top tip, leave the cool box at home and bring a rucksack, you will appreciate it on the upward return leg especially if you’re heading home in the dark with lots of other sunset seekers!
This beach has a reputation as a party place – this was confirmed when we observed 15 guys dressed in mankinis doing all sorts of circus tricks. As a result the 6 police officers walking in military formation checking cool boxes for illegal liquor was not unexpected.
The beach has a policy of optional clothing – try to stick to beach etiquette which is signposted as you enter the site!
Facilities – there is a small food cart at the top of the steps, but nothing at the beach front 200m below. As for the washroom, lets just hope you have had all your injections recently…these portaloos are NOT recommended under any circumstances!
Don’t forget your camera to capture the spectacular sunset, but be careful what you snap!