It may seem like a simple task to book a romantic evening for two professional thirty-somethings in the city who have no pets and no kids but John and I often find our “date nights” are few and far between. A busy day job, a company to run, client projects and commitments make us some of the few downtown-dwellers I know who actually stay in at night and cook dinner at home. Leaving the confines of our West End apartment to enjoy a night out, just the two of us (without 20,000 other Whitecaps fans, as is often the case) is a real treat. John’s birthday is coming up this week so I thought I would plan a quick “staycation” in the city, realizing that our last local hotel + night out was back in June.
Recently voted the #1 Boutique Hotel in Vancouver in the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver, we were booked into the Loden Hotel on Melville on a busy Saturday night, when cruise ships were making their last passes through the city before the end of the season. Despite the crowds in the lobby — and lined up out the door at Tableau, the hotel’s French restaurant — the service at the hotel was impeccable.
Once we checked into our room on the 2nd floor, complete with a terrace, water feature, and a sliver of a mountain view, we popped the cork on some Prosecco only to realize that we hadn’t thought ahead about chilling the bottle. Grabbing the ice bucket, I opened the door to the room and caught a staff member making a beeline down the hallway. I quickly spoke up to ask where I could find the ice machine and he swiftly turned around and came over to tell me not to worry, he’ll bring some by. Within 5 minute he returned with a bag of ice. It’s the little things like this, that you don’t even anticipate or ask for specifically, that can make a difference when you have so many accommodation options in a city.
The layout of the room allowed it to be opened up, with a big sliding door dividing the bathroom’s vanity and the living area, and the floor-to-ceiling windows let in all the brightness of autumn daylight, even when it started to rain outside. John and I always travel with a “tech bag” that has our own ethernet cables, Airport Express WIFI base station, and other gadgets to keep us connected. Our room had a strip with various outlets right above the desk, below the flat screen television, that made it easy to plug in and charge our devices (no rooting around on the ground to find an outlet). The alarm clock next to the bed also had an iPhone charger built-in.
Tableau Bar Bistro
I made two sets of reservations for us downstairs at Tableau, so we could enjoy dinner and their popular brunch menu the following morning. The staff was very friendly and able to explain each of the features and cocktails — although if their French accent was too thick they referred you to the a board in the dining room that listed all of the pertinent menu details.
Cocktails, a flatbread appetizer, a lamb dinner, halibut, wine pairing, and chocolate mousse left us in a euphoric state. Tableau combines fresh, local ingredients with classic French techniques, preparing dishes that are rich and creamy, but crisp and delicate at the same time.
Following dinner John suggested that we take a walk down to the waterfront since the hotel, located near the corner of Bute and Melville, is just meters away from Coal Harbour. We strolled past Harbour Green Park, watched the sun disappear from the Vancouver Convention Centre’s lookout points, and looped around Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca that twinkled like the stars above peeking through the clouds. We returned to the hotel before the rain could start again and took advantage of the bath tub and salts while finishing off the rest of our Prosecco.
When morning came, we awoke to raindrops dancing in the water feature on the patio and went downstairs for brunch. Americanos, warm pain au chocolat, brisket eggs benedict, mushrooms on toast. The smell of cinnamon filled the bistro as did families with full table orders of chicken and waffles.
The menu items are reasonably priced between about $12 and $16, and the warm atmosphere and the classic dishes with French flair reminded me of my last brunch in New York with my mother last November on the Upper West Side. Tableau manages to remain casual and cozy while elevating everyday dishes, and your cravings for something special. It’s so nice to find places close to home that make you feel like you’re far away – from all your everyday worries and stress at least.