Passport to Pleasure: Afternoon on Alberni in Vancouver

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Vancouver… a city full of Calvin Klein underwear models?

This might not be your typical scene in Vancouver, especially after summer ends, but we have a few more weeks before that becomes a worry. Now’s the perfect time to visit our international neighbor to the north.

It’s a beautiful city with wonderful scenery, parks, shops, and restaurants—all the makings for a romantic getaway. With so much to do, we just need a little focus. So let’s spend an afternoon on Vancouver’s Alberni Street, where we stamp this week’s Passport to Pleasure—a hedonistic quest for great food and good times for two.

coast_int_640_008COAST IN FOR LUNCH

Coast restaurant brings the bounty of the ocean to the downtown dining scene, and is the first stop of your afternoon on Alberni. You can choose to eat al fresco on the outdoor patio, or go inside to the elegant, multi-level dining room for your lunch.

Coast offers seafood platters that are perfect for you and your partner to share. The signature chilled platter contains sashimi, a sushi roll, and a variety of shellfish—including freshly shucked oysters, half of an Atlantic lobster, and half of a Dungeness crab—along with some sauces for dipping.

coast_platter_640_566If you’d rather focus on raw fish, there are signature tiles with nigiri sushi. (Look for the mango California roll, with real Dungeness crab and avocado. Even if you don’t normally like rolls, this is a good one.) And if you prefer your seafood warm, consider the signature seafood platter with halibut, wild sea tiger prawns, sockeye salmon, and Qualicum scallops. The seafood is piled on a plate with seasonal vegetables, and comes with a side bowl of potato gnocchi.

Of course, you can also order a la carte off the menu, which features salads, sandwiches, fish and chips, and more—including a delightful smoked salmon flat bread. You’ll feel good knowing that Coast affiliates with Ocean Wise, making ocean-friendly, sustainable seafood choices.

SHOP TO SHOWER EACH OTHER WITH GIFTS

alberni_sign_640One of the main sensual attractions of Alberni Street has long been Agent Provocateur, but the store unfortunately closed in the past month. (You can still see their incredible ad campaigns and shop for lingerie online, or visit one of the boutiques in other major cities in the U.S. and around the world.) Instead, you’ll have to settle for the Calvin Klein Underwear store just next door to buy sweet surprises.

If it’s outerwear you’d like to gift each other, there’s a Hermes shop at the corner of Alberni and Burrard. Or if diamonds are your girl’s (or partner’s) best friend, head across the street to Tiffany & Co. Okay, they both have Burrard addresses, but they’re essentially on Alberni, and both offer opportunities for romantic splurge shopping.

GET TURNED ON AT THE ART GALLERY

art_galleryIf you could continue on Alberni Street one block east through Burrard, it would take you right into the Vancouver Art Gallery.

And if you can make it there in the next month, go.

The Color of My Dreams: Surrealist Revolution in Art exhibit runs through September 25, so you have one more month to catch it. The exhibit  borrows from collections both private and public (like the Guggenheim, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Centre George Pompidou), bringing together 350 works by 50 leading surrealist artists, including Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Edith Rimmington.

Of particular interest for this Passport to Pleasure is the “Anatomies of Desire” section of the exhibit, featuring the works of Man Ray, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, and many more. The paintings (and some sculptures) will have you questioning the meaning of sexual normality, and will be fodder for talk about erotica. The work of Czech surrealist Jind?ich Štyrský is especially intriguing. Pictured is Ithall Colquhoun’s “The Pine Family,” which explores androgyny and gender dynamics.

A very stimulating exhibit, in many ways…

THIERRY MAKES (AND TAKES) THE CAKE

thierry_int_640_44Vancouver has long lacked a quality downtown destination for morning pastries and late-night desserts. As of last week, the problem is solved on both fronts.

Thierry Busset, former pastry chef at Cin Cin and West, spent years developing the concept for his new chocolaterie/patisserie. Now open, it’s appropriately named Thierry, part of the Top Table family of restaurants. After your stroll through the museum, Thierry is the perfect place to sit down with a coffee drink (made with the exclusive Thierry Espresso Blend), some flavored liquid chocolate, cold house-pressed juice, or a glass of wine. And while sandwiches are available at lunchtime, you’ll probably be ready for something sweet.

thierry_mousse_640_18How to decide? You’ll have to do a little window shopping. Like a jewelry store, the showcases are one level only—and they’re temperature controlled for their specific contents. Will you have some of Thierry’s specialty chocolates?  A cake or a tart? (Pictured is the lime mousse cake.) Or maybe a sampling of the captivatingly colorful macarons? (They’re gluten-free!) This only scratches the surface of what’s available.

Enjoy the warmth of this classic-yet-modern café with its curved walls of palmwood and drip-from-the-ceiling light fixtures. You’ll relish thoughts of your romantic afternoon on Alberni, realizing that you’ve got until midnight to return to Thierry for a sweet finish to the day.

Coast Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thierry on Urbanspoon

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