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Ours is an era of casual dining, when every tiny trat and fresh-sheeted bar lives by its smart prep and bodacious ingredients. Among the many contenders for the best of relaxed rigour, The Farmer’s Apprentice takes Gold here as well for cooking that is grounded in classic techniques that “soar flawlessly on modern flights of fantasy,” as one judge enthused. Whether dishing country pâté or hop-cured trout, David Gunawan keeps his plates tied to the local farmer’s basket. The room is charming and quietly romantic with vinyl records and candlelight-the sort of neighbourhood haunt that makes locals feel they live on just the right block. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie (Silver) remains a striking example of modern Chinese cooking, the ultimate nighttime stopover for prawn-and-chive dumplings paired with very smart cocktails. When out-of-town guests arrive, Bao Bei is the spot to show off something uniquely Vancouver-brilliant fusion, absolutely lacking in pretension, and a shao bing to write home about. Chambar (Bronze) is still one of the best places in town to impress a date over beer and moules frites (or their superb lamb tagine). It’s modern and enchanting, with one of the brightest crews around. You’re moving this year, Chambar, and growing. But don’t go changing.