Georgia Hotel Bars, Vancouver

August 2013

Since the renovation of the grand old lady completed in 2011, the food and drink scene at the Georgia has changed quite a bit. In the old days there was a very lively bar on the Howe Street corner, packed at the end of any day with legal and business singles from nearby office buildings.

Now Hawkesworth rents a big chunk of the main floor space, and the Bel Café sits where the old bar used to be. Tucked away at the back of the lobby, however, is an old-style clubby bar that seems to be pretty well empty most of the time. I had lunch there and was really delighted with the atmosphere, service, and food. It’s pitched as the “1927 Bar”, and is probably in the location of the original drinking spot.

Several dinner menu items were available at lunch, and I had tempura halibut cheeks which were crispy and perfectly cooked, with a Japanese dipping sauce. My friend had albacore tuna melt, likewise tasty and classy. About $35 for the two of us.

Somebody told me about a bar on the fourth floor which is partly outside, but when I tried to get up there on the hotel elevators I found you needed a key card to make the thing stop on that floor. The downstairs bartender explained that there is a back elevator that takes you there and indeed on another occasion we dropped in for lunch. It’s called “Reflections”, a strange venue, about 50% outdoors nestled in the recess of the U-shaped building, with tables under a roof, others under glass, and others with umberellas. There’s a waterfall at one end, and water runs in semi-transparent glass-covered troughs across the room. I’m told it’s going to be open six months of the year, which would necessitate getting out of the rain and being lightly heated much of the time. But on this occasion it was warm and sunny.

Compared to the early 20th century bar downstairs, this is much more on the froufrou side with modern muted decor and young girl servers in black knit dresses. The menu is pretty abbreviated but both the dishes were delicious. Mine was a perfectly tender succulent braised short rib open-face sandwich with creamy sour sauce. Companion had the seared albacore tuna sandwich, also open-face with tangy Japanese sauce. The tuna was just a shade overdone for my taste, liking it practically raw as I do.

What a couple of interesting little spots, the existence of which nobody would ever suspect from the street or in the case of Reflections be aware of even from a pretty good acquaintance with the common areas of the hotel. Great choices for of drink or lunch downtown or even a quick dinner. Overall 8.0.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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