It's been a few months of some big changes when it comes to what's on the menu at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. The posh Coal Harbour hotel with three permanent food destinations - five, if you count the two bars - has had some shake-ups, new additions, and one big re-opening, all on the heels of a whirlwind summer that included a temporary pop-up courtyard patio restaurant.
Back in mid-September, when Vancouver Magazine was finally able to reveal the winners of the 2020 Restaurant Awards, the Pac Rim's second-floor fine-dining spot Botanist nabbed a Silver for the best of the Downtown neighbourhood category, and what timing - the restaurant had finally re-opened on Sept. 2 after a lengthy COVID-19-era pause.
Botanist took their time off to not only nail their safety procedures but also to refresh the menu for the new season. Executive Chef Hector Laguna kept some popular favourites, like a mushroom tagliatelle, and added on fresh new items, like a strawberry gazpacho that teases out the final notes of summer sweetness with hints of bright cucumber notes and mellow snow crab.
There's a decadent foie gras appetizer that features sweet and tangy cherries and a foie gras beignet alongside a generous torchon of silky, rich foie. In the spirit of Botanist's emphasis on regional ingredients, look for tender duck with Brussels sprouts and a cranberry jus that is precisely autumn in B.C. on a plate. If you manage to save room for dessert, you'll get more vibrant bites of our sunnier months with a buttermilk panna cotta served with plump blackberries and cheery lemon curd.
Brunch fans will be delighted to know Botanist is back on the weekends - and that the restaurant's signature beef tartare is still on offer, among other temptations for an elegant midday feast.
Belly up to the Bar...
The Botanist Bar opened up again on Oct. 7, with a limited number of seats and the option to order from the dining room. They, too, have shaken up their drinks selection, bringing back some faves and introducing new tipples.
Starting Nov. 1, an avant-garde cocktail and food pairing experience will be revealed at Botanist Bar. Guests can enjoy inventive and experimental cocktails paired with creative cuisine thanks to a collaboration between Head Bartender Jeff Savage and Chef Laguna. The special menu is available only at the bar's VIP table; two seatings for groups up to six will be available nightly from Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Advance reservations are required and can be made online.
Ready to head back downstairs? Descend that beautiful marble staircase and veer right - that's where you'll find the Lobby Lounge and RawBar. The RawBar recently said sayonara to its long-standing sushi-ya, Chef Takayuki Omi (aka Chef Taka), who has just opened his solo venture, a take-away sushi and sashimi spot that doubles as a specialty Japanese grocery store. Called Sashimiya, Omi's new digs are at 1348 Hornby St in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, at RawBar, sushi lovers have a fresh way to get their hands on the restaurant's high-quality 100 per cent Ocean Wise sushi. For the first time ever, RawBar is making their menu available for take-away. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily you can order up small plates, starters, salads, bowls, along with fresh sushi rolls, nigiri pieces, and sashimi. Place orders through Tock for pick-up from The Lobby Lounge.
A new destination for fresh pasta
While it's serious sushi business around back, there's a pasta party now happening up front thanks to a major change-of-hands that went down this summer at Giované, the casual café at the Pacific Rim. Giované re-opened in August as the newest Kitchen Table property.
If the name "Kitchen Table Group" isn't familiar, then the names of their restaurants will certainly be. Kitchen Table operates several top-rated and award-winning spots, including Ask For Luigi, Di Beppe, and Pourhouse, along with Pizzeria Farina and its North Shore sibling, Farina a Legna. Its pop-up pasta-centric Pastificio di Luigi, which had been operating out of Pourhouse, is now based at Giované. Here you'll find a robust café menu of food and beverages, including coffee and espresso drinks, wine, beer, and cocktails, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and grab-and-go options like salads and Italian-inspired hot breakfast items. However, I don't see Giované's beloved sugar buns - those massive cream-filled orbs dusted with sugar - on the menu anymore. Sadface.
Pastificio di Luigi's menu includes plenty of pasta made fresh in-house, as well as salads, antipasti, and even dessert pasta, plus some basics for the bambini. You can peruse the Pastificio pantry to stock up for your home kitchen, too; there are bundles of fresh pasta, sauces, grocery items, and more.
Botanist, Botanist Bar, The Lobby Lounge, RawBar, and Giované are all at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, located at 1038 Canada Place in Vancouver.