Despite Vancouver being a charming urban city with easy access to endless nature activities, the amount of rain we get from fall to spring can be somewhat of a turn off. (It’s depressing AF so we don’t blame you for only wanting to visit during summer and crowding our parks/beaches.) While you might not think to plan a vacation here during low-season months like January or February, this is actually one of the best times of the year – especially if you’re a hardcore foodie. But wait, what was all that talk about the rain then? Relax, let me explain and introduce you to Dine Out Vancouver Festival.
What is Dine Out Vancouver Festival?
Burdock. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.
If there’s anything better than Christmas, it’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival season. Every year for approximately 2-3 weeks, local restaurants gather together in showcasing their very own prix fixé menu. This menu consists of a three-course meal and can range anywhere from $15, $25, $35 to $45 per person depending on the restaurant. (Wine pairings are available as well at additional prices.) We’re talking gourmet French onion soup followed by a medium rare New York strip steak AND a decadent white chocolate passion fruit mousse all for less than $50! (For example. Each restaurant obviously has their own unique offer.) Your financial advisor would be so proud and long gone are the days when he’d silently judge you for dropping $350 on a meal when you could be putting that money aside into your dream home or your future child’s college fund.
Edible Canada. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.
The Westin Bayshore. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.
So who exactly do we have to thank for this genius idea? Well, in 2002, a group of serious foodies had a wild eureka moment to pitch to Tourism Vancouver that restaurants should introduce a set menu to attract business during slower months of the year. 57 restaurants signed on immediately and since then, Dine Out Vancouver Festival has grown to be Canada’s largest food and drink festival that brings together more than 200 restaurants, wineries, and even breweries.
Which are the participating restaurants?
As mentioned above, there are now over 200 Dine Out Vancouver restaurants. From farm-to-table Canadian cuisine to French, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, and Lebanese delicacies, you’re gonna wish you had more than one stomach. For a complete list, head on over to Dine Out Vancouver Festival’s restaurant directory.
Glowbal by Glowbal Restaurant Group
Glowbal. Photos courtesy of Glowbal Restaurant Group.
Glowbal Restaurant Group is a collection of restaurants with a focus on cuisine in the Pacific Northwest. Of its seven restaurants, Glowbal, Coast, Italian Kitchen, Trattoria, and Black + Blue each have their very own Dine Out Vancouver Festival set menu. I’d visited Black + Blue in the past and absolutely adored their steak. It was cooked to perfection (medium rare of course because any other way and Gordon Ramsay would be appalled) and the flavors were so incredibly rich that… Gosh thinking about it now is making me hungry!
This 2020, I had the opportunity to try Dine Out’s 3-course dinner menu at Glowbal. Despite having walked past several times, it was actually my first time here.
Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna. Avocado mouse and sriracha citrus emulsion.
Corn-Lemongrass Soup. Wild mushrooms and prosciutto.
Aromatic Spiced Sable Fish. Tiger prawns, tomato, and vegetable vinaigrette.
Prime Beef Strip Loin. Squash, sweet potato puree, and buttery hot sauce.
Red Velvet Cake. Dark chocolate mousse with pastry cream.
Zeppole Al Cioccolate. Italian-style donuts with hazelnuts.
Immediately as I stepped into the restaurant, I felt an extremely warm welcome. The service was impeccable and both my boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed the food.
For starters, I really liked the tuna. The rice cracker coating gave a nice contrasting texture and I loved that bit of a kick from the jalapeño. The corn soup was lovely although we did find it to be a little too salty – especially with the prosciutto. Moving on to entrées, both dishes were delightful. The sable fish was very nicely seared and the medley of vegetables complimented the dish perfectly. The strip loin was cooked medium rare and I was particularly fond of the sweet potato purée. Lastly, for dessert, neither one really spoke to me, but I did enjoy the chocolate mousse. It was very rich and had a subtle hint of maybe rum or brandy. Our waitress also helped us choose wine pairings for each dish. I’m a white wine kinda gal so Quails’ Gate’s Dry Riesling was my cup of tea. (Or I guess in this case, my glass of wine!)
Overall, I would recommend giving Glowbal a try. If you were to order three courses (appetizer + main + dessert) off their regular menu, the price can easily start from $70/person. Getting all three for $45/person is definitely a fantastic bargain.
Dine Out Vancouver Festival Events
Apart from the prix fixé menu deals, there are numerous other events worth checking out as well. A few popular ones include an oyster shucking class at Fanny Bay Oyster Bar, a “Gelato 101” session with Uno Gelato’s maestro, and a sustainable seafood walking tour. Tickets sell out fast so be sure to reserve early in advance.
Hawksworth Long Table Dinner Series
Hawksworth Long Table Dinner Series was one of the delicious events that I had the pleasure of attending thanks to Tourism Vancouver. This was my second dining experience at Hawskworth, but my first time at a private event in their York Room.
Scallops. Jicama and radish with Vietnamese vinaigrette.
Albacore tuna. Kaffir lime, tamarind, and shiso.
Roasted squash. Barley, celeriac, and walnut.
Yarrow meadows duck duo. Carrot, kale, and foie jus.
Meyer lemon custard. Jasmine and orange.
The Long Table Dinner Series features Chef Antonio Sotomayor’s five-course tasting menu paired with local BC wines from Unsworth Vineyards. Both the roasted squash barley risotto and duck duo were my favorites and the dessert was also a nice finishing touch. Not only is this a great introduction to sampling Hawksworth’s award-winning contemporary cuisine, being sat at a long table amongst other guests means you’re guaranteed to make new friends. Plus, you know what they say. People who love to eat are always the best kind of people. Now those are the type of friends I’d wanna meet!
Where to Stay in Vancouver
1 Bedroom Executive Suite at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.
If you’re visiting from out of town, I highly recommend a stay at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. It’s located in Downtown Vancouver where all the action is. More importantly, it’s steps to nearby BC Place and Rogers Arena. In between meals is your perfect chance to catch a Canucks hockey game or Coldplay concert. And even if you’re a local simply looking to try new restaurants, why not use this excuse to treat yourself to a relaxing staycation? Find out why I loved my weekend retreat in JW Marriott Parq’s 1 Bedroom Executive Suite.
And that’s it for today!
Hungry yet? Because I sure am and you bet I’m gonna make myself one more reso before the event is up! (Or multiple. Let’s be honest, who can resist good food at a good deal!) Dine Out Vancouver Festival is definitely an incredible culinary experience not to be missed and if you’ve enjoyed this guide, don’t forget to pin it for later or share with your friends! Tune in next time for more on my favorite hidden gems around Vancouver. Until then!