When the summer starts to draw to a close, Vancouver’s restaurants begin to shift their menus to heartier fare and the bounty of British Columbia’s autumn produce. Cherries and berries make way for apples, artichokes, cranberries, and even kiwi fruit from Vancouver Island. The local seafood changes, too; you might even see Pacific sardines — available only in September and October. At least until rainy November, dining al fresco on Vancouver’s patios is still a great option.
The ever-changing pandemic means restaurants are making changes on the fly to suit the current circumstances, so keep your eye out for special events, changing opening hours, and expanded menus. Here’s what’s new and planned (so far) at these five must-book restaurants for fall.
As the weather cools, L’Abattoir’s meat-heavy dishes become even more tempting. Try quail from Thiessen Farm with grilled foie gras or perhaps pan-fried sweetbreads on toast. But it will be hard to skip the steak Diane given the new perfect pairing — the restaurant’s new namesake wine, L’Abattoir Syrah. It’s available exclusively in L’Abattoir’s dining room for the rest of 2021, at least until its limited quantities are gone. The blend was created this past winter via a collaboration with BC winery Le Vieux Pin and L’Abattoir’s general manager and sommelier Nick Bertoia. There’ll be a new vintage available next year, plus a white varietal announced in spring 2022.
Instead of ordering à la carte, you can also book L’Abattoir’s Gaoler’s menu experience, which comes with nine seasonal courses and optional wine pairings. Plus, partial proceeds go directly to the BC Hospitality Foundation. Watch L’Abattoir’s website for special events in the private dining room — the space has an open kitchen, and chefs Lee Cooper and Yoann Therer and pastry chef Oliver Bernardino have new seasonal event menus now that indoor events are allowed again in BC.
Street Auntie Aperitivo House (Granville Entertainment District)
This modern Chinese restaurant opened in late 2020 bringing street food from China’s Yunnan province to Vancouver. Founder Yuyina Zhang calls it “contemporary Chinese-ish comfort food” and named the eatery for the street food vendors or “street aunties” in the Yunnan mountain village where she grew up. Chef Stephen Ho’s menu includes beautifully plated creations in a six-course menu of dishes such as crispy soft shell crab, applewood smoked tofu, and a trio of cold bites that includes spot prawn and watermelon mojito, house-cured sablefish, and lotus root two ways. Or, bring a more casual menu home with fried chicken or fried rice.
You can also come for Chinese imperial afternoon tea and nibble on savoury selections like lobster toast and several sweets, plus your choice of tea and sparkling wine. Don’t miss dessert, where you’ll find playful molecular gastronomy such as the Vancouver Special, where you can roll your own “joint” with chocolate “marijuana” leaves and chocolate soil. The beautiful fortune cookie cake serves at least two.
Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market (Stadium District)
Fresh seafood is the highlight at this tide-to-table restaurant on the edge of downtown toward BC Place. The restaurant celebrated its fifth birthday this summer, and new executive chef Tommy Shorthouse is bringing experience from notable Vancouver restaurants Boulevard, Joe Fortes, Tableau, and Wild Tale. His passion for BC products and sustainable farming inspired some of the new dishes he’s offering at the restaurant.
All of Fanny Bay’s seafood is Ocean Wise and sustainably farmed or fished from the waters of British Columbia and Washington state, including its oysters grown on the rocky beaches of Fanny Bay in Baynes Sound off Vancouver Island. Menus are seasonal, but you can always order Shorthouse’s seafood paella, chock full of prawns, scallops, clams, and whatever’s freshest from the sea. Give Fanny Bay’s sablefish collars a try — it’s a rarely seen and sustainable delicacy.
The Teahouse (Stanley Park)
The landmark restaurant within Stanley Park reopened this summer with a new executive chef. Sic Kim has previously cooked at Giardino’s, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Bin 941, and Cardero’s, and his new dinner menu has items such as crab- and shrimp-encrusted halibut and Brome Lake duck confit with truffled mushroom croquette. Kim is also relaunching The Teahouse’s popular weekend brunch, with dates yet to be announced.
Choose outdoor dining or, if the weather has turned too chilly, gaze at the views of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains through The Teahouse’s huge picture windows.
There are several big autumn 2021 changes at Notch8, the main restaurant in Fairmont’s flagship Vancouver hotel. New items on the dinner menu include an appetizer of side stripe shrimp served with curry aioli, tapioca crisp, and pear as well as an entree of chayote squash with whole roasted trout and warm baby kale salad. Plus, a more COVID-friendly Continential breakfast tower replaces the traditional buffet, piled high with pastries, proteins, a parfait of yogurt and granola, a smoothie shot, and your choice of breakfast beverage.
With the rainy season returning, in mid-September Notch8 will be offering a new version of its seasonal afternoon Raincouver tea, which in 2020 included sweet treats shaped like rainbows, raindrops, and umbrellas. Plus, live music is back in the Notch8 Lounge with performances Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 5pm.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.