I recently returned from a trip to Vancouver. It was my first time back in the province of British Columbia’s largest city in five years.

First let me tell you about a new spot I discovered to stay. The Sunset Inn & Suites, located at 1111 Burnaby, features superb executive one-bedroom suites. These spacious apartment-style accommodations have a fully equipped kitchen, a separate dining and living room with a double size sofa bed, plush bathrobes and slippers, two TVs, a DVD player, an iPod / iphone player and charger clock radio and wall mounted air conditioning units. There is free gated parking for one vehicle during your stay, a free continental breakfast and real charm at the front desk. The fine gentleman who checked us in, Dave Schacket, grew up here in DDO. Toll-free: 1-800-786-1997.

I will be filing a series of stories on Vancouver and Whistler in the coming months. But let me share with you a tip on perhaps one of the finest restaurants I have ever dined at. Joe Fortes Seafood & and Chop House on downtown Thurlow Street is a cross between our own Queue de Cheval and Moishe’s.

With a commitment to freshness, the Joe Forte’s kitchen receives daily local deliveries, ensuring that you’re guaranteed to find the freshest ingredients on your plate every day.

A look at the always busy interior of Joe Forte’s.

The main dining room is anchored by a soaring horseshoe oyster bar. This Grand Room boasts large, cozy booths, perfect for hosting a high-powered lunch or dinner meetings, as well as intimate dinner dates. From the mezzanine, diners enjoy a bird’s eye view of the action and live musical entertainment below.

The mahogany-walled wine room offers guests a unique and discreet setting in which to enjoy an intimate lunch, or a private corporate celebration. The more casual side of Joe’s is experienced in the bistro and bar area where locals and out-of-towners alike mingle, soak up the live music and keep their eyes open for visiting celebrities.

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House has been specializing in classic, American cuisine since 1985. It is a tribute to Executive Chef Wayne Sych and his dedicated kitchen staff that Joe’s has maintained its unparalleled popularity with both locals and tourists alike for more than 20 years.

The Joe Fortes kitchen prepares each dish with a focus on natural flavours and features the finest ingredients collected from Pacific Northwest farmers, fishermen and food artisans. Serving more than 50 kinds of fresh fish, including their legendary three-tiered Seafood Tower on Ice, premium oysters and succulent chops, their signature dishes have become a favourite of locals, celebrities and tourists alike.

This was more than just a dinner for our group – it was an experience. We decided to share the magnificent Seafood Tower on Ice – Atlantic lobster, chilled crab, local oysters, clams, mussels, scallop ceviche, smoked local albacore tuna and poached jumbo prawns and a couple of orders of King crab tempura.

While we enjoyed every morsel of these appetizers, it was time to select our main courses. Would it be seafood or beef? Four members of the group decided to have the best of both worlds – splitting the filet mignon and the most delicious cuts like butter piece of fish we’ve ever experienced – miso marinated sable fish with sides of rice and scallop potatoes. I opted for the prime rib, with Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes.

Did we have room for dessert? Yes – and along came the dessert trio – Tahitian vanilla crème brulée, tiramisu, molten center chocolate cake, brandied cherries, biscotti and vanilla gelato. Needless to say reservations are required.

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