A little taste of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival

A little taste of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival

Last week, we were invited by our friends at Aeroplan (the Premier Partner of Dine Out Vancouver) to join Tourism Vancouver for a night on the town. The annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival is fast approaching and we were invited to attend a preview event that included visits to three participating locations. We’re careful to not say restaurants because not all of the participating establishments are restaurants. Some are pop-up locations that will host a dining experience, but are not traditional restaurants.

Our delicious evening included visits to The Vancouver Aquarium, Tableau Bar Bistro and Nightingale. It was a super fun event that got us even more excited about the 15th annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival.

Before we dive into our experience, a brief background about the festival. 

Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival is Canada’s largest annual food and drink festival, attracting over 100,000 local and visiting food enthusiasts to experience the city’s exceptionally diverse culinary scene. New this year, Aeroplan has joined as the Premier Partner because great food is not only an integral part of their members’ travel experience, it’s also an opportunity to connect with friends and family to create meaningful moments.

The festival gives diners the opportunity to select from hundreds of restaurants each offering unique three (or more) course prix-fix meals at $20, $30 or $40 per person, many complemented by the Wines of British Columbia, and craft beer or cocktails.

Over the 17 days of the festival, a delicious schedule of culinary events allows festival-goers to enjoy unique culinary experiences not available throughout the rest of the year. These can include guided dining adventures, brunch crawls, cooking classes and cocktail masterclasses, dinner and film pairings, debates, guest Chef lectures, BC VQA wine and craft beer tastings, street food markets and more.[source]

Food has always played a role in the travel experience, but these days it’s become the star attraction for many. Today’s traveler wants to connect with a city, or country, by immersing themselves with the city’s food and beverage scene. Dining at the hotel buffet isn’t going to cut it with this new generation, so it should come as no surprise that culinary tours, street food walking tours and food festivals are all the rage.

Once known as having a boring or uninspiring food scene, Canada has really stepped up its game over the past decade. Several food festivals are now hosted every year, with the most notable being Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Vancouver (DOVF), Whistler’s Cornucopia, City of Toronto’s Winterlicious and Summerlicious, and Tourisme Montréal’s MTLàTABLE

These annual events have exploded in recent years, becoming the focal point for many vacations. It’s yet another reason to visit our amazing country! 

Okay, enough with the backstory. Let’s get to food, shall we!

The Vancouver Aquarium

6:00 PM and 8:00 PM – 1.5 Hour Seating
General Admission: $58

The Vancouver Aquarium is a pop-up location so you won’t find it under the restaurants section on the DOVF website. Instead, it can be found under ‘events.

They did a great job transforming the cafeteria into a welcoming dining space. It was a complete transformation, actually. If you choose The Vancouver Aquarium you will also get to experience the Discover Rays touch pool, as it’s included with dinner. Here is the menu.

The food at this venue was my favorite of the night. Although it’s at the top of the budget for DOVF, it’s absolutely worth every dollar. Award-winning executive chef Ned Bell has created a delicious three-course Ocean Wise seafood menu that showcases the best in sustainable, locally-sourced foods.  

It was hard to pick only one in each category, but below are my favorites dishes.

Haida Wild Razor Clam Soup – served with Seaweed Biscuits and Maple Butter.

You can also upgrade and get the Ned’s Famous Dungeness Crab Tacos (pictured above). They’re filled with fresh dungeness crab and are bursting with flavor.

Seafood Mixed Grill – includes scallops, Kuterra Salmon and sablefish, with fingerling potatoes, onion crema, celery root and black truffle.

Lime Custard tart with BC Blueberry & Black Pepper Compote

Tableau Bar Bistro

Neighborhood: Coal Harbour Cuisine
Type: French Dinner
Menu Price:

Our second stop on the evening was to Tableau Bar Bistro, an updated take on a traditional French bistro. The restaurant atmosphere is quite cozy and intimate. It combines old world classic bistro elements with modern touches. I really liked the restaurant’s vibe and I loved its checkered floor.

We were there on a Tuesday night and the place was really busy, which says a lot about a restaurant. It feels like a fun place to grab a drink and share a plate.

Tableau will be offering a set menu for DOVF (See full menu here). I was able to taste the delicious menu and here are my favorite dishes.

Salade D’Hiver – roasted vegetables, charred gem lettuce, pancetta, mustard caper dressing.

‘Osso Bucco’ De Veau – slow cooked veal shank, creamy polenta, pink peppercorn gremolata.

For dessert I had the Ginger Creme Brulee – served with vanilla shortbread. No photo. I was too busy indulging (bad blogger!).

Nightingale Restaurant 

Suggested seating time: 6:00 PM
Suggested dinner: 7:00 PM
Priece: $63.35 per person.
Minimum of 14 guests, maximum of 18 guests.

For a slightly different experience, try out Nightingale’s Chef’s Table Experience. This is an opportunity to experience a unique private event with friends. Group size must be between 14 to 18 people. Only one group will be seated per night – so make sure you book early!

This experience is also found in the ‘events’ section on the DOVF website.

This dining experience is unlike most in that it’s alla famiglia style serving. Big dishes come out and everyone shares. It’s a really fun way to dine and feels like your at a big family dinner over the holidays. The menu changes each night and it’s a combination of food from the menu and one-of-a-kind dishes that are developed by Head Chef Phil Scarfone.  

Since the menu changes each night, you may not have exactly what we did. Our personalized menu included the following:

  • Russian kale salad, roasted sunchoke, pomegranate, hazelnut vinaigrette
  • Citrus & avocado salad, thai basil, crispy shallots, lime vinaigrette
  • Roasted brussel sprouts
  • Salmon and the slow roasted stuffed ham

The Dine Out Vancouver Festival is a great opportunity to visit a new restaurant, taste some new food, sample a new wine and experience Vancouver’s thriving culinary scene.

The 2017 festival begins on Friday, January 20th and finishes on Sunday, February 5th. Many of the restaurants will be offering two sittings per night. Menu prices range from $20 and up, so there are options for all budgets.  

For more information, visit http://www.dineoutvancouver.com/

Read next – 26 Epic Adventures by Bloggers in 2016


About Traveling Canucks

Cam and Nicole Wears are newbie parents living in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. A passion for travel and outdoor adventure has taken them to over 70 countries on 6 continents in the past 10 years. Learn more about their story here. Follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their monthly newsletter.