Vancouver’s downtown has many neighbourhoods; some officially named while others are giving nicknames by locals. There’s Gastown, then if you head along Beatty you’re in Crosstown until you get to Yaletown. The West End starts at Burrard and there’s Davie Village, English Bay, and Stanley Park. Coal Harbour faces the North Shore while the Financial District along West Pender and West Hastings sleeps over the weekend. The Entertainment District along Granville is then in a sort of limbo — placed between Yaletown and the West End. This is where The Rolston condo development is setting up shop and promoting “Midtown”. This area is defined between False Creek and Helmcken, Burrard and Homer.
The Rolston will be popping up where the Cecil currently sits on Granville Street. Their goal is to show how liveable the surrounding area is – which is sort of Yaletown meets False Creek, Sunset Beach, and the Entertainment District. To promote this, they sent John and I on a “Midtown Experience” tour this past weekend. Armed with an agenda filled with 12 hours of fun, here’s a glimpse of what we got up to in “Midtown”.
Stop: Tartine Bread and Pies
Location: 770 Beach Avenue
Our experience: It’s hard to avoid the incredible aromas wafting out into the neighbourhood from Tartine’s ovens. Fresh breads, muffins, brioche, cookies, croissants and pies filled with delectable ingredients tempt all who pass. We each ordered a coffee and filled up on baked-goods including the ham brioche, cherry tart, cheese scone, and morning glory muffin.
Stop: Absolutely Fabulous Urban Spa
Location: 1500 Hornby at Beach Avenue
Our experience: I admit, this isn’t the first time I taken my husband for a pedicure although rather than a quick n’ speedy soak and file, this was the full-on day spa experience wrapped in about 90 minutes. We shared a room and faced each other as our feet soaked, toe nails were filed, calves were massaged and (in my case) polish was applied. I mucked up my polish on two toes when I put on my shoes and the staff touched it up on the spot and offered additional touch ups throughout the week if I needed, which I thought was a nice gesture. They also played some really pretty piano music on the sound system which made it easy to close our eyes and enjoy our time at this urban oasis.
Stop: Nu Restaurant
Location: 1661 Granville St, under the Granville Bridge & right on top of False Creek
Our experience: Sunday brunch at Nu is “must do” in Vancouver. Located across from the Granville Island Market you’ll enjoy jazz music and passing sailboats from the dining room. Complimentary hot chocolate and scones warm your palette before trying one of their divine eggs benedict. For $23 you can select a beverage (coffee, tea, or brunch cocktail), an appetizer, and any of their bennies. It’s a little more than a Denny’s breakfast but the atmosphere and the view are worth it.
The next suggested stop was a VIFF film at either the VISA Screening Room, Pacific Cinematheque, Vancity Theatre, or the Empire Granville 7.
Stop: Sanafir Restaurant
Location: 1026 Granville St
Our experience: We were first sat at the window on little cube chairs, which were pretty uncomfortable but our server was kind enough to move us over to a booth upon inquiry. We ordered several tapas including the gazpacho shrimp and black pepper calamari then John recalled the “lamb balls” we had at the Rogers/VIFF party we attended at Sanafir the other day. He asked our server and she brought us out some the Lamb Kafta along with some Mediterranean ribs. When she asked how the ribs were we both looked up from licking our fingers and said in unison, “amazing”. We also had a shrimp vindaloo upon recommendation and the mango banana spring rolls for dessert (with chocolate ganache for dipping).
Stop: Sip Lounge
Location: 1117 Granville St
Our experience: The final stop on our tour was at Sip for some after dinner drinks. Turns out, it was Oktoberfest and all of the servers were wearing fun and flirty costumes to celebrate the occasion. The open kitchen behind the bar smelled delicious and we talked about our day and upcoming week over a pair of martinis.
The goal was to show that this part of downtown isn’t just for Friday and Saturday nights. Given the walking distance, range of activities, and quality of restaurants, it’s definitely a community in which you could spend a lot of time.