City (es)cape

6 06 2011

Vancouver is a city of contrasts.

For every lovely loop around Stanley Park or UBC, in the shade of towering cedars, breathtaking vistas over the ocean to the North Shore mountains, there’s a necessary traverse through a dowdy, dusty industrial park or rough residential area with overgrown lawns and dilapidated fences. For every neatly-manicured waterfront walk there’s expansive walls defaced by garish graffiti.

When you spend more time riding through the latter, it’s sometimes hard to understand why this city is so beloved. The architecture is uninspiring, mostly cookie-cutter glass and concrete condo towers. Public transit is underwhelming. It rains a lot. It’s expensive.

And then there are times like Sunday night when the glory of this place becomes apparent.

For Katie’s birthday we went for dinner to a French restaurant along the False Creek waterfront at the foot of Yaletown. When I came out here 20 years ago, this area was barren industrial land that had been cleared for Expo ’86. Since then it has come alive with condo towers, restaurants, shops, parks and a glorious promenade along the water where people stroll, cycle, skateboard, rollerblade walk their dogs, sit on a bench to chat, read, listen to the iPods.

We were able to enjoy all of that on a warm evening from our ringside seat on the outdoor patio, as we enjoyed a lovely meal and a couple of glasses of rosé. Perfect. If only we could afford to live down there.

Grilled halibut and spot prawns, on a waterfront patio; this is what's great about Vancouver living

Of course the evening wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Vancouver pretension. When we arrived at the restaurant we passed a table where a couple of dudes clad head-to-toe in pristine Assos cycling gear were trying to impress their female companions. One of the Assos guys complimented my oh-so-stylin’ Castelli checked cycling cap. Point to him for acknowledging a fellow cyclist.

But any spirit of brotherhood evaporated when they departed the patio for a smoke, then retreated to their BMW where they had their bikes stuffed into the back seat, likely without a single speck of road dust anywhere on them. Poseurs.

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6 06 2011
Yellow tomatoes and purple potatoes |

[…] a French restaurant along the False Creek waterfront, with a pretty spectacular fish menu. Mario had the halibut and spot prawns, with yellow tomatoes (which I loved!) and purple potatoes, and I had the Mediterannean bass with vegetables and seven grain rice. I wasn’t so keen on […]

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