Running a hotel restaurant and bar is a tricky business. You need to keep your main clientele, business travellers and tourists, happy, while still not alienating the hometown crowd. In a way, you need to be all things to all people, and that is a very difficult task.
While it’s been open for more than year, I only recently discovered Grain Tasting Bar, located in the Hyatt Regency right in the middle of downtown Vancouver. It’s a hidden gem, if a restaurant located in the epicentre of the downtown core can be considered “hidden.”
The space is large and welcoming, lots of dark wood and sleek modern touches, along with a hammered tin ceiling over the bar. There’s a relaxed sitting area where you can chill out with a glass of wine after work, or you can sit at hightop and look out over the street. It’s located on the second floor, and its wraparound windows open the summer, giving you the most peculiar feeling of being both inside and outside at the same time. People-watching from this vantage point is spectacular.
The wine menu is 100% BC-based, and all the beers on tap are local, too. Many of the mixed drinks are standard bar fare, but well done. The Gin and Tonic features local gin and the tonic is Fevertree, an import from the UK, which enhances the flavour of the gin. The Zombie, with its nod to Tiki culture, is also a popular choice.
True to its name, it offers lots of share plates: the charcuterie is also completely local, meats coming from Oyama, and cheeses chosen seasonally from Saltspring, Moonstruck, and other local artisans. You can also slurp back Village Bay Oysters.
For heartier fare, lunches feature updated classics, like Crab Louis, Prime Rib salad (or sandwich) or Tuna Sliders.
Pizza is one of the more popular choices for dinner. The dough and sauce is lovingly made in house, and they have a proper wood-fired pizza oven. You can play it safe with BBQ Chicken or a Buffalo mozzarella and basil, or you can colour outside the lines with the chorizo, pistachio and pickled onion.
Other dinner fare includes Spring Creek meatballs (thought to be some of the best beef coming out of Alberta), smoked tomato bruchetta, and tuna tartare with a sous vide egg.
The service, as it should be at a hotel bar, is superb. Under the management of Mitchell Kerr, both staff and bar service is efficient and friendly.
It’s almost an ethical dilemma; when you discover something you really like, but think maybe not that many people know about it, do you share that info? I vote yes–good places to eat and drink and hang out are better when shared with friends, along with a great glass of wine and some charcuterie.
Grain Tasting Bar
655 Burrard St
Open daily from 11a.m. to 1a.m.
All photos supplied by Grain Tasting Bar.