Recently Reviewed: The Roof Restaurant & Bar

Go for the view. And the history. For 50 years from opening day in 1939, the Hotel Vancouver’s Panorama Roof was the place to see and be seen, to dine and dance, to drink and make deals. For the first two decades, the view was clear across to English Bay and Vancouver Island, with not a single high-rise in the way. Even when Craftsman homes and four-storey walkups gave way to multi-storey apartments, it was still higher than most.

This spring, Fairmont Hotels gave the Roof a lick of paint, and they’ve opened it up till November to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Dining looks out at the forest of towers on one side, drinking, on the other, from one of the city’s finest places to watch the sun go down. Bar man Jack Lo (J-Lo to regulars) makes martinis just as he did 30 years ago. There’s still live music most nights — but not Dal Richards, who got his start there in 1940. These days, the Roof looks like a hotel dining room circa 1975 and the food is cheaper than those martinis, but the view still captivates. A grown-up place for a drink from the cocktail era and a reminder of our stylish past.