No matter the season, Vancouver BC is one of my favorite west coast cities. Surrounded by mountains and water, sunrise and sunset in Vancouver have equal power for photo opps of stunning natural views intertwined with a thriving and culturally rich city of neighborhoods. During a recent trip, my spouse and I concentrated our time in the Coal Harbour neighborhood where food and accommodations are plentiful.
While Coal Harbour is adjacent to world-class tourist destinations, including Stanley Park, the Gastown District, and the fashionable Robson Street shopping area, this nook of the city is a quiet and laid back neighborhood where residential streets align alongside independent eateries. We were in between main meals, but couldn’t resist stopping in at Prestons Restaurant + Lounge to sample their happy hour menu.
Prestons is located on the street level of Coast Coal Harbour hotel on West Pender, an active street with dog-walkers, vacationers, and nine-to-fivers alike. The restaurant received a tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence earlier this year and it’s no wonder. Prestons features local and seasonal ingredients for a farm to table experience, along with locally sourced artisan creations. Their mantra is Unwind • Refresh • Nourish, and I did exactly that when I pulled up a chair on the beautiful patio.
The décor at Prestons is modern and elegant, but with an “after five” casual vibe that welcomes tourists and conference-goers equally. The exterior features crisp lines of grey stonework and metal patio fencing, resulting in a hint of industrial fashion softened by comfortable seating and ample lighting. Interior seating ranges from intimate booths to elongated spaces for larger groups to gather over conversation.
Our server was attentive and knowledgeable about locally sourced ingredients, and based on a few recommendations we started with pale ale from Granville Island Brewing to refresh after a long stroll along the waterfront. Then we dug into a number of happy hour small plates for a variety of flavors.
It’s important to note that featured happy hour items change with the season, so guests will always be able to sample the freshest local ingredients. During my summer visit, I sampled avocado and cured salmon on toasted baguettes, and fish tacos with just the right amount of kick in the sauce. These are summer menu items, but other selections I sampled continue to be offered on the current menu, including thrice cooked fries with Saskatoon berry ketchup—a truly unique flavor that wowed. I also tried Comox chicken wings featuring a dry rub with honey garlic sauce.
Additional current selections guests will find on the menu include house-made pretzels with mustard and beer cheese dips, cheeseburger spring rolls with a secret house dip, and a spinach and kale caesar salad with a house-made classic dressing, bacon, croissant croutons, parmesan cheese, and white balsamic drizzle. Happy hour runs daily between the hours of 3-6pm and also includes great deals on beverages.
For those looking for more than a small plate sample, dinner options include seared scallops, BC salmon, and carbonara featuring three kinds of house made spaghetti. All seafood menu items at Prestons are recommended by the Vancouver Aquarium as ocean-friendly. For the business crowd, there is a “12 minute express lunch” guaranteed to get you fed and on your way back to business in no time.
My spouse and I weren’t in a hurry, so we enjoyed leisurely time on the patio before we headed back out to explore the Coal Harbour neighborhood. There’s plenty of public art and culture to take in, including the Digital Orca sculpture by artist Douglas Coupland and the Olympic Cauldron from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The Vancouver Convention Centre houses an Olympic Legacy Display, and this is a short stroll away from Prestons.
Also around the corner from Prestons is Harbour Green Park, a great place for people watching, watersport rentals, and seawall cycling. This is also where you’ll find stunning views of Coal Harbour with mountains as your backdrop.
I’m a big fan of this Vancouver neighborhood and now that I’ve sampled their happy hour menu, I’m sure to be back at Prestons soon to catch up on local fall flavors.