Last time I was in Vancouver, it wasn’t such a good food trip. We were down by Kit’s Beach and the two places we went just weren’t that good. But, over the past year, I have heard that Vancouver really does have a good food scene, and that my initial experiences are not indicative of what really goes on in the kitchen’s of Vancouver. So, I was excited for this return trip and an opportunity to try some delicious cuisine North of the border. And, given the fact that I’m here for three days, I should have ample time to see what Vancouver has to offer.
My first destination of choice was Cobre, a small tapas place located in the Gastown neighborhood, easily within walking distance from my hotel. By the way, have you noticed that when you tell a non-foodie that you went to a tapas place, the first thing they hear is topless? But I digress…
Gastown is an interesting dichotomy to downtown; it’s neighborhood, well, neighbor. Downtown is full of new, towering condos and office buildings; glistening edificies of steel and glass, each fighting for a view of the beautiful, glimmering bay. Gastown by contrast is full of old building of brick and mortar set in a more industrial setting. The water view is full of cranes and tankers and transporters; giant hunks of steel floating on the water. It reminds me of the industrial area of Ballard in that it is a blend of trendy restaurants and shops in an area that fights fiercely to protect its character and identity.
Cobre was located in a building that looked a bit rundown with apartments on top that looked like they needed bars on the window. But as soon as I walked in, I was transported to a restaurant and room that was much more upscale than its exterior let on. There was some character that could be seen in the brick walls and exposed beams along the ceiling that was balanced by the class of the heavy dark wood bars, cozy private booths, and two levels of seating. There is an exposed kitchen in the back and the bar is on the first level off to the left. I made a beeline in that direction, saddled up to the bar, and ordered a water.
Normally, I wouldn’t go to a tapas place because so many of the dishes would not be construed as “low-fat” or “low-carb”. So many bites are served on bread, or cooked in a lot of oil, or just aren’t lean. But a look at the menu showed that there were in face some options that I could make work. I nearly went with the ceviche of the day made with fresh scallops, but it also featured mostly fruit, and I’d had my fruit serving for breakfast. Fortunately, there was a Steelhead Trout alternative accompanied by plenty of P90X appropriate vegetables. The fish was delicious and moist, and complimented well with the likes of cucumber and jalepeno and basil. Each bite had a some crunch and a bit of heat in that touched the back of the tongue, but didn’t overwhelm everything. It was a delicious dish, and I knew that this food trip was definitely going to be different than the first one.
As good as the ceviche was, it wasn’t quite filling enough for me, so I had to go for something else. Focusing on trying to find the most P90X appropriate dish, I opted for the ling cod. It was served with a salsa verde and some prosciutto on a fry bread. Trying to minimize my carb intake, I only ate one of the three pieces of fry bed, which was nice and light and airy and added a bit of a crunch to the dish. The cod was very well cooked, and salsa verde offered a very nice, yet mild, pepper flavor to everything. Overall it was good, but there was just something missing…maybe a little acidity from a lime, or a little sweetness from a bit of tomato. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it seemed to be one ingredient away from fantastic.
After another glass of cucumber infused water, I packed up and headed out for a slow walk back to the hotel through Gastown. Dinner was definitely enjoyable, and showed that if you actually take a moment or two to look, you can find some very good food. And as I was walking back, I noticed a variety of restaurants and coffee bars and cafes that I would definitely like to go back and visit sometime. I could probably spend a week trying different places throughout the neighborhood and enjoying some great cuisine.