Vancouver's West End, where I am fortunately living, is a great neighbourhood for finding unique restaurants. You want it, it's there - pho, chili, vegan/organic, fish, poultry, meat - as in Must. Have. Meat. - exotic, local products, international, ethnic, wine bars, pastries, the list never ends. Prices range for example from $8.95 for a generous Teriyaki Salmon box with salmon, rice, bean sprouts, salad, california rolls, miso soup and tempura at Osaka Sushi (1361 Burrard- take-out/dine in) to Le Crocodile where it's easy to spend $100 or more (with wine) on an excellent lunch -and well worth every penny (909 Burrard, entrance on Smithe Street - dress codes apply).
I met a friend for lunch at Latab on Helmcken just west of Burrard today. We've heard that their signature roast cauliflower served with wheat berries, feta and herbs is amazing - sadly we arrived too late to order it - sold out. However, if that dish is as good as the bowls of coffee-cured trout with bulgur (I think there was some mango in there, too), mint and other veggies, and the roast squash with smoked tofu, brown rice, kale and radish, then there is obviously a reason the cauliflower was gone by 12:30. The seasonings and sauces were perfectly balanced and complimented each dish - no flavour overwhelmed any other.
The venue itself is small but open and bright, and seating is limited, but hey, it's Vancouver so lunch tables are communal. Kitchen is semi-open, staff smiled a lot, they like doing what they do. Lunch is informal. Coffee and tea served in glasses not cups, european style. Go. Oh! And their evening menu is completely different. Make reservations. More meat. Great wine selection. I'll walk up the hill from my place soon and try out that menu as well.
If you are in downtown area for a conference, the massive annual Sun Fun Run (April 17 this year), or just shopping you really should drop in. It's a quick walk from anywhere! They are right beside the Sheraton Wall Centre.
Don't know about you but it's going to be my new Go To place to take out-of-town visitors and family. Cheers!
Latab is at 983 Helmcken Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2S5 (604)428-7004