You cannot go to Vancouver without eating at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. It's a living museum of Canada's colourful past and has brilliant food.
Suite 210 - 55 Water St.
Tel: (604) 684 1287
The heart of Tallinn's Old Town is the Raekoja plats, or Old Town Square. Surrounded by elegant pastel hued buildings and the creamy limestone facade of the Town Hall, the square has been used as a marketplace, meeting place and also a place of execution.
It is still somewhere to meet up, perhaps in one of the restaurants that overlook it or, during the warmer months, one of the outdoor cafes that are set up on its cobblestones. There is also a reminder of its commercial past with handicraft stalls during summer and its Christmas Market. Indeed you get the sense that this is not a square that has been frozen in aspic - beautiful but untouchable - but a place that is still much in use by locals and visitors alike. There is also an intimate feel about the square, but without it seeming small, and an openness about it without it feeling bare and exposed.
As an introduction to Tallinn's Old Town you can't do worse, and as a place to visit in and for itself you can't do worse either.
In a lovely cellar entered from Raekoja plats is Troika, one of Tallinn's Russian restaurants.
The setting is great, like a recreation of an Imperial Russian dining room, and the service excellent. The menu runs through Russian staples such as blinis, dumplings, stroganoff and pancakes. There is a good selection of fish and vegetarian options and, for meat lovers, plenty of choice, including bear! And as an accompaniment? What else but vodka! Though there are plenty of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic options for those who want a clearer head the next morning!
It's a lively, popular and busy place, underscored when we were there by live Russian folk music, so booking is advisable.
One word of warning though, it is not an overly expensive restaurant (we paid about £55.00, £60.00 with a tip, for both of us and there was more than we could really eat, even with trying) and indeed very good value for the quality of both the food and the whole experience, however, it is easy to rack up the price. For instance, as we sat down and before we were given the menu we were asked if we wanted to start our meal in true Russian style with vodka, pickles, honey and sour cream. Who could say no! It was a fantastic way to open the meal, and the evening, but was also one of the most expensive items on our bill and as we hadn't seen a menu at that point we weren't aware of how much it cost. Now we would probably have still gone ahead and ordered this anyway, it was fun to see the vodka being poured from a height of two or three feet into the glasses and the combination of all the tastes was great, but for anyone on a budget or watching what they spend the cost may have come as a nasty shock.
That is only a minor criticism, however, as we had such a good evening at Troika, excellent food, excellent atmosphere and great fun. And I didn't even mind the vodka hangover the next day!
Raekoja plats 15;
tel: 372 627 6245;
There is a danger that in describing somewhere as a "garlic restaurant" it is made to sound rather gimmicky and that somehow the gimmick will surpass the cooking. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth with Balthasar, Tallinn's garlic restaurant.
Firstly the setting is fantastic, the restaurant is situated on the first floor above Raeapteek with lovely views over the square and towards the town hall. It is rather like being in a country manor dining room, wooden beams and floor, ornate chairs, fresh white linen, subdued and subtle lighting. There were very few people in the restaurant when we visited, reflective of it being a freezing Sunday night in winter rather than the standard of the restaurant, so the atmosphere was quiet and intimate. Service too was very good, attentive and helpful but without being overbearing.
As to the food, which reflects an international cuisine, it was excellent. On the menu each dish is given a bulb rating - 3 or above and you better not have any vampire blood in you! There is a good selection of starters, soup, meat and fish dishes plus a vegetarian option. You can also order garlic side dishes including the wonderful "garlic assortment", a pile of cloves in 4 different marinades, pesto, chilli, vinegar and spice. Also, don't leave before trying the garlic ice cream, which comes in a crisp almond basket and chocolate sauce. Like the creamiest ice cream you've ever had but with a hint of sweet garlic - sounds strange, tastes delicious.
Raekoja plats 11;
tel: 372 50 29 077;
This broad boulevard with a pedestrianised centre in the middle is the Portuguese equivalent of the Champs Elysees. Some cheap but good restaurants lie either on or near to this avenue.
In the heart of Lisbon, stretching up from the Praca de Comercio to the statue of the Marques de Pombal.
A popular restaurant for Lisbonites and for tourists alike, so booking is recommended. The traditional Portuguese fado singers begin at 9.15pm prompt. You can't come to Portugal and not listen to a fado. There is no admission fee but a small cover charge instead. The food is top class.
91 Rua da Norte, Bairro Alto;
tel: 21 322 4640
Lovely taverna on Perissa's beachfront with wonderful, reasonably priced food and lovely service. The best food on the beach - much better than neighbour Charlina's, yet always less busy for some reason.
While at Perissa, avoid the 'club' Full Moon as the music is dire and the dj is very unpleasant if you make polite requests. Cds skip etc.
Also, the Athina Apartments are wonderful, just lovely - in a very quiet part of town.
Perissa Beach is very small, East side of Santorini, you can't miss any of the places mentioned.
If you want an idea of what Berlin looked like before the war then head to Prenzlauer Berg, which is a sort of mirror image of Kreuzberg. Like its West Berlin counterpart, Prenzlauer Berg kept its traditional tenements and has a working class district tradition. The wall defined the western edge of ‘Prenzl’ Berg, which was also a centre of alternative culture during communism. Now the district has become increasingly trendy and is seen by some as the ‘New Kreuzberg’. It’s a favoured spot among West Berliners, given the new trendy bars and restaurants that are opening up, particularly around Sredzkistrasse/Husemanstrasse/Knaackstrasse. But despite this, Prenzlauer Berg keeps its distinctive character.
U-bahn line U2 to Senefelderplatz, Eberswalder Str or Schonhauser Allee. Trams also run to Prenzlauer Berg from Hackesche Markt
A fabulous restaurant situated in the very vibrant and lively Piazza Navona. The food is delicious: 'crazy butterflies' - Farfalle in a rich creamy sauce, and you can't miss out on the taste of the Tartuffo - chocolate heaven. You can sit, eat and soak in the atmosphere and be spoilt by the wonderful waiters, for whom nothing is too much trouble.
Piazza Navona, 30
Award winning Malaysian restaurant with the most amazing seafood, reasonably priced, friendly and efficient staff. No bookings taken, just turn up and add your name to the blackboard. We eat there every time we are in Vancouver. Delicious Sambal Tiger Prawns and Abundant Seafood platter...mmm
820 West Broadway;
tel: 604 731 6333
1096 Denman St;
tel: 604 683 3333
3003 West Broadway, Kitsilano; tel: 604 734 3005
Resting against the beach logs on this Kitsilano neighbourhood beach and watching the sunset, you will experience all the quintessential elements of Vancouver at once. The beach, a view of the mountains, the ocean air, and a purely laid-back West Coast vibe. To make it even better, stroll along barefoot with a specialty coffee or smoothie from any of the local cafes and take in dinner at the Naam restaurant a couple of blocks away, where the service is so refreshingly unhurried it IS the evening's entertainment. Namaste!
Naam restaurant: 2724 West Fourth Avenue, Kitsilano;
tel: 738 7151;
Come here for the best döner kebab (€3,50) in the city. Freshly baked pita bread, grilled lamb, yoghurt, grilled vegetables and salad. Takeaway or eat, standing up, on site. The "Alaturka teller", a mixed plate of salads, meat, vegetables and börek for €7,90, is easily enough for two people.
Olgastr. 100, Stuttgart Süd.
This hippy veggie restaurant is open 24/7 and is such a great place to spend a relaxing evening. There is excellent food from around the world and charming service from friendly owners and waiting staff. Meat eaters and veggies alike will delight in the menu. I've been there twice and both times there have been queues out the door late into the night!
2724 West Fourth Avenue;
Food for the soul as well as for the body is available on Granville Island. Artists' and artisans' studios and shops, BC crafts, galleries, professional theatre(s), high quality (musical) buskers, possibly the best art college in the country (along with a gallery), the Fringe Festival, the Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival, and lots of family entertainment sponsored by Granville Island Management. It's a good thing that the public market is nearby to provide sustenance and energy for those who want to available to take advantage of some or all that Granville Island offers.
I had an excellent meal here. Sashimi, lobster and a tuna steak. This is a good restaurant, has a great fresh fish menu and a good wine list. It's also very reasonably priced in comparison to eating in London. But that whole Yaletown area is like a baby Shoreditch, an uber-trendy outpost in a frontier town.
1095 Hamilton St;
tel: 604 688 8078;
Great restaurant where the super chefs of tomorrow are being trained for a tiny fraction of the price you would expect for aplace of this quality. The standards are very high and the service is great. Also has a great bakery. A little known secret in Vancouver.
1505 West 2nd Avenue (just before entrance to Granville Market);
tel: 604 734-4488;
A delightful little eatery hidden away on a back street near The Village. If you like you dining outings to be a relaxed, enjoyable event then you will love it. Taking inspiration from centuries old Mongolian warrior traditions, you select your raw food (a host of meats, vegetables, sauces and spices) and one of the talented chefs grills and cooks the meal before your eyes. Wonderful decor and polite, attentive staff make this one of the most original and enjoyable eating experiences in Manchester.
16 Chorlton Street, Manchester (walkable from Picadilly Gardens and station);
tel: 0161 228 1631;
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