The Dishes is a new Scout column that asks Vancouverites to walk us through a map of their ideal day and night on the town. We’re talking breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night cocktails. Tax and tip included.
For this edition we quizzed food reporter, recipe developer, champion of the plant-based lifestyle and maker of Vancouver’s favourite banana bread, Erin Ireland (To Die For), about her favourite eating and drinking spots around the city.
Good morning! What’s for breakfast/brunch?
Mushroom Ricotta Toast at TurF (a restaurant-gym-shop in Kits) with a house walnut mylk Moja Coffee latte. The ricotta is so delicious and creamy made with a base of cashews and the chefs are generous with the portion of buttery mushrooms. On thick toast, it just hits all the spots. Also, it almost seems strange raving about food from a gym-restaurant, but it’s seriously that amazing. If I had to eat out at one restaurant every day for a month, I think I’d pick TurF.
Where should we meet for coffee/tea?
Let’s walk to the Kits dogs beach and grab almond mylk lattes from Be Fresh (Cypress & 1st) on the way. Their almond mylk is insanely good — I want to buy it by the 4L (if you’ve only ever tried ‘boxed’ or mass produced almond milk, you will not believe the difference – night and day!). If you can’t tell, I’m more of a nut mylk connoisseur than an espresso connoisseur. Also, this little market is filled with local artisan edibles, so if that’s you’re thing you may want to have a look around.
Now we’re hungry again. What’s for lunch?
We’re going to Port Town for an amazing carrot “lox” toast (…just realizing I might be a toast addict?) at Roots + Fruits. I’m in awe over this recipe and how chef Chef Rumi Kawaguchi has transformed simple carrots (by steaming then marinating) into what tastes, feels and smells like smoked salmon. Along with nori shreds (which smell like the ocean), cashew-based dill cream cheese, capers, thinly sliced red onion and an amazing slice of Fife Bakery sourdough, the end result is one huge flavour bomb. Grab some of their chia pudding to go – also so good!
Who has you figured out at Happy Hour?
I love the idea of happy hour but for some reason only partake if I’m on a tropical vacation (margaritas and guacamole are always what’s on that menu). These days, my idea of happy hour is walking over to Blue Heron (a brand new plant-based cheese shop on Main Street) for a wedge or two of their incredible stuff. Chef Karen McAthy proves you truly do not need cow milk to make amazing cheese. She makes blue cheese, hazelnut asiago, cashew cheddar and so many more. Some are aged for several months. While there I’d also grab a bag of Laiki crackers (best!) to complete this perfect happy hour snack.
What’s for dinner?
Cauliflower Steaks at Heirloom. Since opening, I’d say Heirloom has had their ups and downs, but oh boy, they are in a serious up right now with Chef Michael Ferreira at the kitchen helm. It’s really hard to go wrong when ordering off this menu, but his charred and seasoned cauli steak has my heart — it’s lathered with harissa ‘steak rub’ and served with a sweet tamarind raisin puree. You won’t leave a single morsel on this hearty and delicious plate.
What’s for dessert?
I have several answers for this question but I’ve narrowed it down to two: 1) Drunken Cherry Gelato at Umaluma in Chinatown. This stuff is just insane. It’s not too sweet, it’s filled with nutty chunks (ahh, texture) and there are bourbon-soaked Amarena cherries riddled throughout. Definitely get a pint or two. 2) Amai Vegan Treats’ Chocolate Mousse. A non-vegan friend told me it was the best chocolate mousse she’d ever tried, vegan or not and I concurred. Just thinking of this mousse, with it’s unbelievable light, whipped texture, gets me excited. Find them at several shops around town including Vegan Supply in Chinatown.
Where are you taking us for late night cocktails?
Lucha Verde, home of super creative margarita-style drinks and other cocktails, as well as my favourite tacos in the city. Serious hidden gem alert. I’m not the cocktail expert and am definitely mainly taking you here for the tacos (try the cauliflower, the jackfruit, the portobello and the smoked tempeh…yes, almost all of them), but the ‘Outshined’ with Cazadores Blanco, grapefruit, ginger and a citrus salt rim was very very easy to drink.