The word “hideaway” is used loosely in the food and beverage trade, but it’s never more perfectly employed than at Reflections in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Accessed via an elevator tucked around the corner from the lobby’s concierge desk, it’s been something of a hard-to-find spot since it opened five summers ago, and never really caught on to the extent I thought it might.
The sprawling patio (secreted off the indoor pool) on the 4th floor offers little in the way of vistas (enclosed on all sides by soaring towers), but that’s hardly been a bad thing. If you’ve ever been up there – maybe two or three drinks in on a warm summer night – you know it’s pretty special. Few Vancouver patios even come close to engendering the not-so-common feeling that all is right in the world. The location is that unique; there are no architectural dead giveaways screaming a sense of place (eg. no skyline icons), and yet it’s so obviously urban — you really could be in any major city in the world. That might not prove magnetic to hotel guests seeking a distinctly Vancouveresque experience, but to locals…well, sometimes an escape from the everyday and the ordinary is what you need.
Such appeal, however, had its limits. The first iteration of Reflections saw cooks sharing prep/execution space with bartenders; an inoffensive (if somewhat typical) “table tetris” style of tapas menu; a magnetic fire-pit that made every other seat seem second or third grade; and – if I’m to be totally honest – a sometimes oppressive atmosphere of privileged sloth, which is what you’ll evidently get wherever you combine an inescapable sense of exclusivity with low, cabana lounge-style seating. It might be great at night when you can easily pretend to be someone you really aren’t, but ugly realities are laid bare in the Fear & Loathing light of day. What’s more, lunch is a tough game in this town, and this was no way to compete. They may have done a brisk trade at night, but their day numbers were soft.
And so here we are today, on the verge of the new and considerably improved Reflections – now called Reflections: The Garden Terrace – being revealed on April 11th. I took a look inside – er, outside – with the hotel’s Food & Beverage Director, David Stanton, late last week while it was still very much under the knife. Gone is the fire-pit, which has been replaced by a Japanese maple. The L-shaped cabana is still there, but the seating (for about 100 people) is far more diverse, with five or six different table and chair configurations, including regular deuce/fourtop height tables. Smart move.
They’ve also built a brand new long bar – for the exclusive use of bartenders – with brand new tap lines and refrigeration. It faces the old kitchen, which has been given an overhaul for the exclusive use of cooks (natch). Between the bar and the kitchen used to be a sort of no man’s land; I expect what remains of it will end up being bar turf as the kitchen side will see comings and goings of guests, food, and staff, while the bar side will be, well, a bar with people sitting at it. They’ve positioned another Japanese maple right in the middle, so the old no man’s land has come to an arboreal end in any event. The peripheral water features remain as awesome as ever (always my favourite facet of the entirety), as does the soothing hum of the city that surrounds. Atmospherically, these seem like big improvements.
The food concept is being tweaked a little, too. The regional inspiration is expanding. Whereas the focus used to be squarely on BC, they’re heading out a little across the Pacific, mixing up ideas from Asia, our own backyard, even Hawaii. Presentations will be different, too. Dishes will be served up in two or three bowls fitted into custom-designed wooden boards, of which no two are the same. Think albacore poke; huli-huli chicken; mahi maahi croquettes; maple BBQ pork belly; and so on, with a couple of pizzas thrown in for kicks. Sharing will be paramount at night, but they’re planning to do more of an a la carte, each-to-his/her-own operation at lunch (there’s a compressed watermelon and burrata salad dressed in maple vinegar that reads fantastic). As far as the wine list is concerned, it’s Pacific terroir only, so up and down the coast from BC to Chile. For cocktails, they have the extremely talented likes of Robyn Gray and Brad Stanton from Prohibition (down in the basement) designing the list, so expect it to be top drawer stuff, with some libations pulled on tap.