I went to Vancouver for the Travel Bloggers’ Exchange Conference last month. It was okay. I stayed at L’Hermitage, which is the #1 hotel in Vancouver on TripAdvisor. I’m beginning to get the gist of TripAdvisor hotel reviews after a few ho-hum experiences…it’s all about location. I could not fault L’Hermitage for its location. But for its mattress quality? Yikes. And this is a new hotel.
The rooms at L’Hermitage are like studio apartments…all with a small kitchenette. I don’t like to eat breakfast out when I’m traveling — hello $35 at the breakfast buffet — so I really liked this aspect of L’Hermitage. Plus, the hotel was super close to a grocery store and a liquor store. I stocked up and treated myself not only to breakfast but to a little cocktail hour every afternoon. Good times.
Where I ate…
Japadog. Vancouver likes hot dogs. Especially Japanese hot dogs. Being a sucker for all things katsu, in a very small storefront on Robson Street, I went with the Tonkatsu. The Tonkatsu isn’t a real hot dog but rather fried pork with katsu sauce. For me, it was a bit on the sickly sweet side. And you know how I feel about untoasted buns. Lots of people like it here so I’d give it another shot, but my initial experience had me thinking…meh.
Given my disappointing “dinner” on Day 1, I was ready to make up for it Day 2. After consulting with the VERY helpful and VERY awesome concierge at L’Hermitage, we decided on Coast. (Also helped by the wonderful WhyGoCanada on Twitter.) It was a very perfect place for a late lunch, as they have a lovely bar that overlooks all the shellfish. You might recall my shrimp cocktail video from Coast and my delight with the dry ice treatment.
I would go back to Coast if I were in Vancouver again. I liked the modern vibe, I liked the flirty service, and I liked the seafood…A LOT. (My goal in Vancouver was to stuff myself with as much seafood in a short amount of time as possible.)
At some point — I forget exactly when — I went to Herons Restaurant at The Fairmont and had lunch. It was only okay. The first problem was that the waitress took my order but only told me 5 to 7 minutes later than on weekend afternoons, they don’t offer the special of the day. I found this hard to understand. I changed my order and ended up with what I can only call diet food. Porcini-crusted salmon with organic vegetables. Meh. Nice. Healthy. But meh. I ordered a side of fries, which I really shouldn’t have done.
Herons is a nice place because it has a great view of the cruise ships (note the beautiful natural light), but it definitely had that hotel restaurant vibe. And I wasn’t too keen on my food. (Although I did like their very Canadian wine list.) Maybe I just ordered wrong.
That evening, I headed over to Blue Water Kitchen in Yaletown, another combined recommendation from my concierge at L’Hermitage and WhyGoCanada. I popped in super early and took a seat at the sushi bar in the back. I helped myself to more — surprise — oysters, along with the seafood ceviche. I unfortunately missed one very important word in the grapefruit, cucumber, lime, red onion, cilantro list of ingredients: GRAPEFRUIT.
I hate grapefruit. There are many foods that I don’t like, but I’ll still eat them — like mushrooms. But I really can’t eat grapefruit. At all. The grapefruit just about ruined a perfectly nice ceviche for me. Grapefruit bitterness is very pervasive. Very.
I also had the oddest lemon tart I’ve ever had at Blue Water…does this look like lemon tart to you??
I had to reread the menu. Ingredients? Frozen wild flower honey meringue, burnt orange sauce, caramelized almonds, pistachio and hazelnuts. Again, not paying attention. (Really though…how they can call this a lemon tart, I don’t know.)
Even with all this, I kinda liked Blue Water and would go back. But I would pay attention next time when ordering. Hah!
My last stop in Vacouver — I think — was the very sweet Zero One sushi. Super small, and not at all fancy. It’s exactly what I was in the mood for. HOLE IN THE WALL.
You place your order at the counter and the sushi chef is your waiter. I got one of the day’s specials — just a couple of small rolls — and used the miso soup to relieve myself of my TBEX hangover from the night before. Sushi Zero is not fancy nor is it gourmet. It’s inexpensive and honest, and sometimes that’s all I need.
So definitely some hits and misses in Vancouver, and I obviously had a seafood bias. If that’s not an excuse to go back and eat more, I don’t know what is!