If you wander into the Lobby Lounge of Vancouver's Fairmont Pacific Rim on any evening, it's quite likely that you'll feel as if you've entered into a high-spirited atmosphere of Gatsbyesque proportions, with sylphlike women and well-coiffed men parading across the marble floor and descending the marble staircase, drinks in hand, laughter ringing all around them like coins by the handful, tossed into the air.
Completed in 2010, the 48-story, hotel-condo Pacific Rim is less the sort of Fairmont property that you associate with high tea and crumpets (though, yes, tea is served) and more like a pitcher of Manhattans with Robin Thicke and his gals.
If you find yourself drinking in the extremely convivial Lobby Lounge with all the pretty young things and the Ferrari of pianos, a white Fazioli, the flames flickering in the fireplace and the buzz of sophistication and frivolity all around you, it's probable that you'll want to linger a while.
Hence the perfect opportunity for a Fairmont Pacific Rim culinary journey. Start with a second round of cocktails - perhaps a handcrafted selection from the bartender, something potent like pisco. Sip and savor and take a seat on the Terrace so that you might order some sushi and sashimi from Oru, the Pacific Rim's exemplary seafood restaurant that serves Ocean Wise sustainably harvested seafood.
Chefs William Lew and Taka Omi of Oru create a raw bar platter that is an oceanic kaleidoscope of California roll, spicy tuna roll, raw bar roll, steelhead, and wild albacore nigiri. As fresh as a just-shucked oyster, Oru's seafood hits the sweet spot in your conscience: something delicious that's not harmful to the environment.
From Oru, wander across the lobby to Giovane, the Italian-inspired cafe and wine bar that is tucked off the Lobby Lounge in a space that's as sleek and hospitable as an enoteca in Milano. Giovane, meaning "young" in Italian, is a celebration of "la dolce vita," which, in this case, means a profusion of salumi and plates of formaggio and the freshest of seasonal produce.
Executive Chef Darren Brown is the man behind all the culinary magic at Fairmont Pacific Rim. A native of British Columbia, Brown traveled the Pacific Rim and served as personal chef aboard Merv Griffin's 150-foot yacht, serving celebrities such as Dolce & Gabbana and various European royals. In Vegas, Brown worked alongside Alain Ducasse, opening the Michelin-starred Mix at Mandalay Bay.
At Giovane, Brown is in his element as both chef and host, serving a series of small plates that focus on the bounty of Italy: imported cheeses, handmade pizzas, antipasti, pasta - and tomatoes and olives, always tomatoes and olives. Brown is a cognoscente of olive oil and drizzles it discerningly with a consideration for its breadth of flavors.
During the day, Giovane is a bustling cafe and gourmet market, offering a curated selection of imported olive oils, salumi, and formaggio alongside house cured meats and freshly-baked pastries and cakes and homemade chocolates. After gloaming, the café transforms into a candlelit winebar with table service and more than 60 Italian wines.