Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2020-A Taste of Vancouver’s Finest Cuisines

Photo Courtesy of Chambar Restaurant

​I am very lucky to call Vancouver my home for many reasons and I have to say having great cuisine is one of them.  Maybe it’s because we are on the West Coast and we have access to the freshest seafood or because our city is so multicultural and a wonderful place to live that we are able to attract great chefs and restaurants to open here from around the world. I am just spoiled growing up here and I can say that there is no place like Vancouver to live and to eat! Hence with all this wonderful gathering of food, our city holds an amazing food tasting festival called Dine Out Vancouver every January- where the finest restaurants from all levels and types of cuisine gather together to give you a taste of the best from their menus.  Luckily, I got to try two spectacular restaurants this time- one a long table series  at Hawksworth and the other at Chambar, a local favourite.  So I love to share this experience with you and hope that you will venture out this Dine Out season and explore restaurants you are dying to try out or revisit old favourites   you have forgotten. 

Photo Courtesy of Chambar Restaurant

What is Dine Out? 

​I don’t think there is a better way to represent Vancouver than through food and because January is usually a very slow time, a group of wine enthusiasts along with the team at Tourism Vancouver came up with an idea of a fixed-price menu! Affordability  is definitely the key here in attracting many Vancouverites to venture out of hibernation and to try out different restaurants and it has been a very successful idea.  Myself and my friends included, we have been attending Dine Out since its inception in 2002 and have discovered countless restaurants over the years that gave us not only a great food experience but also joyous memories of our youth.  And now years later, in my 30’s and  even though I have had my fair share of fine dinning and other cuisines, I still love to attend dine out because its just a great excuse to gather with friends and enjoy food  at a great price so why not? 

In the past, dine out from what I know is usually a collection of individual restaurant experiences and I think it has been for many years.  But  recently, the organizers created  Dine Out Events,   which are unique culinary experiences to please your palate even further. Everything from guided dining adventures and neighbourhood food tours, to spirited cocktail masterclasses and global guest-chef collaboration dinners, DOVF has evolved truly into a  world-class food festival.    

Hawksworth Long Table Dinner Series

Located inside the beautiful Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Hawksworth Restaurant is a well-known upscale restaurant that has won countless awards.  Glamourous and elegant yet relaxed and welcoming- Hawksworth is led by the culinary perfection of Chef David Hawksworth whose training in Europe and appreciation of local ingredients is reflected in every dish he creates.   Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and with in bar dining menus, Hawksworth is also known for their private dining options and I am no stranger to them as I have attended many events in their gorgeous private rooms.  One of my favourite is the York Room and this intimate space is just perfect for a brand dinner, small party, intimate wedding  and also a fantastic spot for the Long Table Dinner Series.   

I really didn’t know what to expect when I was invited for this Long Table Series because I have never been to one but I knew the food was going to be amazing.  This Long Table Dinner Series starts  at $152.44 per guest and you might think that is rather expensive for a dine out experience.  But what is different is that this experience comes with wine pairing and tasting so if you think about it the deal really is quite reasonable.   Not only are you introduced to delicious local wines from different winery every week and dishes created by Chef Hawksworth, what I loved most about the experience was that each dish and wine was introduced and I found myself wanting to learn more about the winery and the food which was very unexpected.   

The dinner started with a introduction to Roche Wines and actually a representative from the winery was present to let us know a bit of the history behind the winery which was a lovely touch.  We got to taste three wines, a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Merlot all wonderful but to my surprise, my favourite was the Chardonnay and I am usually a Merlot girl.   I would definitely buy this wine at local wine stores because it just paired so nicely with the food we tasted and also  I enjoyed learning that the winery.  With roots in Bordeaux France, the wine is actually produced locally in the Naramata Bench Valley up in the Okanagan, our wine country here in B.C  and I love supporting local! 

After the introduction to the wines, the first course came  and the junior sous chef came out to introduce every dish for us which again was such a lovely touch.    Everything was absolutely delicious and I didn’t think I would be full but I was pleasantly satisfied with the five-course menu.   I loved the first course with scallops because it had a lovely Vietnamese flavour and I loved the presentation in the shells.   The sous chef recommended to us to eat it in one bite but  it turned out we needed a few instead!   The second dish was a Albacore tuna and also with a Asian flavour which I loved and I am usually not a fan of tuna.  The third dish was a vegetarian dish with squash and barley and I enjoyed the squash and the barley which added a nice crunch to the dish.  But my all time favourite is of course the main, the duck and it was cooked to perfection where I never had such a delicious duck before.  And finally dessert came with a lemon custard and the sous chef came around and sprinkled dried jasmine tea leaves and shaved ice which was  so fun.  I am not actually a lemon custard girl but my husband loved it! 

Chambar Restaurant-DOVF Dinner Menu

Chambar Restaurant opened its doors in 2014 and is located at the historic Cross Town district of Yaletown and Gastown on Beatty St and since have become a local favourite. For myself before, Chambar was mainly known as an excellent brunch spot but since this dine out experience, my perspective has changed and realized Chambar is also a wonderful spot for dinner. 

With Belgian roots,  Chambar’ s head chef Nico Schuermans is a Michelin-star trained cook and its no wonder the restaurant is such a success.  I think the first thing you will notice about Chambar when you enter is how beautiful the restaurant is. Decorated in red brick walls, the aesthetic very much reflects the vibe of this part of town.  And also conveniently located beside the stadium/Chinatown Skytrian station, I was able to meet my husband there right after his work while I had a coffee meeting in Gastown.  Not only have that, with such a central location we were able to catch a Canucks hockey gamed which was just a few minutes’ walk to Roger Arena, so it was just a perfect date night for me and my husband. 

Before I get into the food, I first want to introduce you a Chambar classic cocktail-   The Blue Fig Martini!   With oven roasted fig infused with gin, the martini is served with a side of blue cheese.  You might wonder why such a pairing? Well the contrast of the blue cheese and the gin actually goes really well together and if you are a blue cheese fan than you will adore this drink and even if you aren’t, maybe this drink will convert you to a blue cheese lover.  

After enjoying some amazing cocktails  our appetizers arrive and I have to say they were both just perfection and beautifully presented.  My husband, who loves tartare so he ordered the Tartare Sauvage,   a bison tartare with prosciutto crisp which is such a brilliant addition to the delicious tartar  because after tasting the crispy prosciutto , I don’t think I can ever go back to regular cured meat again 🙂  For myself, I chose the   Curry de Crevettes  with Tamarind curried prawns, confit purple potatoes, Belgian endive and crispy lotus roots.  Just like the tartare, I love the addition of the crispy lotus root and can probably just eat that all day long.  With our near perfect appetizers, our expectation of the mains were high and they did not disappoint!   My husband loves tuna and got the  Thon Aux Trois Polvres  with  seared Ahi tuna, polenta fries, aioli, roasted eggplant, pea tips and peppercorn sauce.  I think I’ve mentioned I”m not much of a tuna fan but I thought it was good and I loved the polenta fries and accompanying veggies.   For myself, I got the Boeuf Mijoté, a braised short ribs with farro & swiss chard, cauliflower purée, rum & lemongrass demi-glace so if you love short ribs this dish is fantastic! Last but not least, my favourite the dessert and they indeed saved the best for last I ate every last bite of my  Le Gâteau au Chocolat Chocolate cake with poached pear, spiced namelaka, meringue and was just the perfect way to end an amazing food night. 

For this dine out option, the dinner menu which I had was $45 dollar (does not include drinks) and they also have a lunch menu for $35  if you want to try out their famous brunch and a taste of Belgian cuisine. 

Photo Courtesy of Chambar Restaurant ​

Photo Courtesy of Chambar Restaurant ​

Why Dine Out? 

Dine Out Vancouver is really the perfect festival for January and gives us all a chance to be foodies! ​Both experiences were so different but I enjoyed both immensely.  At Hawksworth Restaurant, I loved that we were able to mingle with some lovely company and got to know our neighbours! On the other hand, I also adored our tasting at Chambar Restaurant, the classic DOVF experience  where me and my husband can enjoy a intimate date night which is always needed.  Whatever the occasion or reason, the festival offers something for everyone; so hopefully next January you will  too   taste the world but with a Vancouver twist! 

Dine out Vancouver  is happening from  Jan 17-Feb 2, 2020 please check their website for more details

Thanks for reading! 

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