We were able to make it (barely) to the Fish House in Stanley Park and had a great dinner there. May be it was early Mother Day dinner but maybe we will have another one tomorrow. We had their house soup (tomatoes, coconut milk and halibut) and oysters motoyaki (baked with wasabi mayonnaise, pickled ginger & black sesame) for starters. Then Alex had cedar planked arctic char & pink salmon pink salmon with creamed spinach, roasted onion pudding and fig reduction and I had lamb sirloin with warm quinoa, feta & mint, Moroccan carrot salad and slow roasted tomato. Both dishes were absolutely perfect. While lamb dish was definitely implying Middle Eastern influence, in reality it tasted more Indian than Moroccan which I actually liked. When I mentioned this to our waitress, she said that one of their cooks is Indian so it is quite likely that he used the spices of his region. In any case, I liked this restaurant even more than I did during our previous visits.
Then we went to our hotel. This was Best Western Sands where we had been staying for more than 10 years during our visits to Vancouver. The hotel itself is OK but the best thing about it is the location. It is located next to the English Bay, very close to the Stanley Park and is convenient for getting to the ferry to Nanaimo. The only problem this time was their poor sound insulation. We had a young couple staying next door and had to listen to their very loud moans, screams and other sound of enjoyment the whole night. Not comfortable at all.
Next day, May 13, we did a lot of walking. We started with walking to our favorite breakfast place - Central Bistro on Denman Street. Then we went back to our hotel and drove to the Granville Island. Because of Sunday and great weather, it was very-very busy there. After making three rounds in futile attempt to find a parking spot, we drove away and parked on one of the adjacent streets. The only problem was that they had parking meters and we still had not exchanged any currency. Thanks god, I remembered that I read somewhere that American and Canadian quarters weigh the same and we used our supply of American quarters to feed the meter.
We spent 2.5 hours walking around Granville Island visiting little stores and artist shops and studios. They have some outstanding ceramic artists there and we ended up buying few interesting pieces.
This is inside joke for Kathy:
The Broom Lady:
Then we drove to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden. It is considered to be one of the most authentic representations of the Classical Chinese Gardens in the world. It is very beautiful and peaceful. The rough and rigid rocks throughout the garden were imported to Vancouver from Lake Tai in China. The rocks are believed to evoke supernatural powers and entice lucky spirits into the garden. Vancouver's Chinese Garden was built in 1985-1986 using the time honored principles and techniques of the original Ming dynasty garden. Fifty-two master craftsmen from Suzhou China, working with Canadian counterparts, completed this landscape masterpiece within a year. The intricate halls and walkways are constructed with precise joinery and without the use of nails, screws or glue.
Then we walked to the Gastown. Unfortunately, it was getting late and the art galleries we wanted to visit were already closing. So we decided to have a dinner there. Unfortunately, the restaurant that I picked based on Tripadvisor’s reviews was closed for moving to new location. Since we were getting hungry, we decided to pick another restaurant nearby just based on their menu and appeal.
After checking few places, we ended up picking Water Street Café right across the street from famous Gastown Steam Clock:
Initially their service was on a slow side – after we got seated we did not see our waitress for a while. However, after she took our order, food arrived relatively fast. We had two appetizers – Calamari Fritti (fried calamari with cucumber garlic dill yogurt dip) and Fanny Bay Oysters (w/ smoked chipotle, cream, sundried tomato, parmesan gratinee). Both dishes were great but the sauce that oysters were served with was heavenly. It was rather smooth, pinkish in color and had a little bite from chipotle. This is another oysters dish that I am planning to reconstruct at home. For the main dish I had Duck Confit with pineapple chutney glaze, balsamic reduction and garlic mashed potato. Duck had wonderful crispy skin and tender juicy meat and was very tasty. Alex had grilled mahi-mahi with flavored olive oil and rice. He absolutely loved it – fish was very fresh and perfectly prepared.
After dinner we drove around Stanley Park to enjoy the sunset.
We started our last day in Vancouver, Monday, May 14, with breakfast at Central Bistro on Denman Street. Then we checked out from our hotel and drove to the Stanley Park. We spent about 1.5 hour driving through the park, stopping and walking in areas that appealed to us. Stanley Park is huge – it is even larger than New York Central Park and just a bit smaller than Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It is s a 404.9 hectare or 1,001 acre. It was opened in 1888 in the name of Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor-General of Canada. While some areas of the part look like a natural forest, other areas look more like a garden.
We were really lucky - not just we got there in the peak of the rhododendrons bloom, but because of this year weather, they had the most intense bloom in several years. Stanley Park received an extensive collection of hybrid rhododendron and azalea plants in the late 1960s from the Royston nursery belonging to Ted & Mary Greig who were renowned rhododendron hybridizers. I have not seen that many varieties of rhododendrons anywhere else including famous Butchart Garden. Stanley Park’s Ted & Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden have 4,500 hybrid rhododendrons and azaleas and they were all in bloom – completely amazing experience.
In general, Vancouver is absolutely beautiful city, just too many junkies.