Eating and Drinking Guide 2010: Best Bar Dining

Eat Roasted Kurobuta pork jowl with caramelized apricot risotto ($34) Drink Dark ’n’ Stormy. Goslings rum, housemade ginger beer, sweet falernum, and a spritz of fresh lime. The Scene Elegant cherrywood bar complete with wall-climbing wine racks and sliding library ladder. Alchemist David Wolowidnyk is known for his encyclopedic spirit knowledge and photographic memory. Customers start at his bar and forget to leave. 2881 Granville St., South Granville, 604-738-8938.

Gotham Cocktail Bar
Eat Pittsburgh-seared bone-in ribeye ($42.95) the size of an abridged dictionary. Garnish with Lyonnaise potatoes ($7.50) Drink Manhattan. Bar manager Steve Schmietenknop knows when to shake and when to stir. Need a big, bold red to complement the US prime? Deep wine list is a compelling compendium of the world’s finest. The Scene Cloaked in velvety crimson. The staff cares enough to be obsequious, there’s always somebody tinkling the ivories, and everything tastes like money. 615 Seymour St., Downtown, 604-605-8282.

Au Petit Chavignol
Eat Cheese, please! Grab a friend (or three) and go for the Grand Tasting Platter ($33), with stellar cured meats and cheeses accompanied by compelling condiments like quince paste and candied plum ginger chutney.  Drink Alvear Amontillado. This nutty, amber-hued Spanish sherry is a perfect foil for stinky blues, creamy bries, and buttery jamón Iberico The Scene Check out the beautiful fly wheel of the antique, hand-cranked Berkel slicer behind the bar, then put it to work. 843 E. Hastings St., East Side, 604-255-4218. 

Eat Pork & Beans ($16). Chef Chris Irving’s stick-to-your-ribs classic is a sturdy cassoulet of white beans, smoky pork belly, and housemade chub boudin. Drink Gold Fashioned. The punchy mélange of bourbon, sweet slugs of maple syrup, and fortified walnut wine hits you like a 12th round haymaker. The Scene  The 120-year-old Douglas fir bar is a thing to behold. Lit by antique Edison bulbs, this 38-foot wraparound stunner might be the coolest in the city. 162 Water St., Gastown, 604-568-7022.
Blue Water Cafe
Eat Tsunami ($18.50), a delicacy of thinly sliced hamachi with jalapeño, ginger, and sesame. Drink Bubbly, of course. By-the-glass offerings range from the vibrant citrus zing of Sumac Ridge’s Tribute to the toasty-nosed Pommery Brut. The Scene At the raw bar, admire sushi master Yoshi Tabo’s reverent preparation of pristine rolls and fresh sashimi. The horseshoe-shaped bar is surprisingly intimate in a buzzy room. 1095 Hamilton St., Yaletown. 604-688-8078. 

Eat Margherita pizza ($15). Mike Jeffs captures the essence of this simple classic in all its bubble-edged, oil-glistening glory. Drink Icy bottles of Menabrea or a smart aglianico from the blackboard list The Scene The lacquered cork finish and candy apple bar stools are pretty enough, but the real eye-popper is that big red meat slicer cranking out delicious ribbons of paper-thin salumi and prosciutto. Bellissima! 781 Denman St., West End, 604-568-4554.

Eat Jeremie Bastien’s menu, projected over his open kitchen, changes frequently. We still have fond memories of his roasted sablefish with corn and clam chowder and house-smoked bacon ($28). Drink Ms. Morris—a Collins glass filled with white port, Pineau des Charentes, Campari, elderflower syrup, and fresh grapefruit. Resident barman Simon Kaulback is incapable of making a bad drink—simply name your spirit of choice and let the doctor operate. The Scene Rub elbows with chefs on their off nights and thirsty industry folk at the plyboo (lacquered strips of compressed bamboo) bar. 1 W. Cordova St., Gastown, 604-684-1844. Moving early 2011.

Eat Dry-aged beef burger ($15.50). House-ground beef patty seared to a juicy medium rare, topped with sharp cheddar and smoky bacon. Turn the fries into a potent poutine for an extra $3.50 Drink Frothy pint of R & B Raven Cream Ale. Sommelier Tom Doughty can pair his smart wine picks with anything under the sun.  The Scene The focal point of this ingredient-driven resto are the prized bar seats that stare directly into the open kitchen. Watching skilled craftsmen like Rob Belcham and chef de cuisine Ted Anderson ply their craft first hand puts the Food Network to shame. 1944 W. Fourth Ave., Kitsilano, 604-288-7905.

Stella’s on Cambie
Eat Mussels ($14) in eight different varieties. Try the house signature, steamed with Stella Artois and cilantro lime butter. Add frites for $4. Drink Belgian beer; and lots of it. See how far you can get into their capacious list before falling off your bar stool. Lambics and witbiers and ales, oh my! The Scene Make friends with your friendly purveyor of fermented hops, and stay awhile. 3305 Cambie St., South Cambie, 604-874-6900.