We have just returned from a two week vacation which included eating out almost every day so for the next few weeks we will be avoiding restaurants (even though we love the choices in Vancouver) and eating at home. So, this post is slightly different than my other dining posts as it does not feature any of Vancouver’s great restaurants but rather a grocery store instead. But I cannot exactly call Urban Fare a grocery store but rather as their tag line says, it is a place to experience ‘gourmet everyday’. We live only 3 blocks from the Coal Harbour store on Bute but there are also other locations in Yaletown and on Alberni and if you have never been, it is definitely worth a visit. Even if you are not in the market for groceries the ‘Carvery Restaurants’ feature speedy delicious lunches of pizza, pastas, soups, salads and sandwiches. The choices at the Alberni store are enough that you could eat there every day for a week and still have options. For larger lunchtime appetites or a relaxed dinner, daily specials range from roast beef or roast turkey to pork loin and prime rib with beer and wine by the glass even available.

I have always been happy to enjoy great food with quality ingredients when it has been prepared by someone else. But living a few blocks from an Urban Fare for the last year has started to change my perspective. On nights when we want to stay in and share a bottle of great wine (without the 60% markup) I used to think that there was no better way to ‘make’ dinner than a quick stop by the Urban Fare take out counter for a great meal. As I mentioned above, the options are amazing. But after spending time browsing the aisles and shelves full of oils, vinegars, spices and other condiments some of which I did not know existed, cheeses from around the world, fresh breads and the great seafood counter – I got the urge to cook!!

While to some people who have only know me for a few years this would seem quite shocking, I actually used to enjoy spending time in the kitchen. So I spent some time scouring the four cookbooks that still remain on my bookshelf and reading the latest Rachel Ray magazine to choose a few recipes and headed off to Urban Fare to collect the ingredients. Having ‘shopped’ at the Coal Harbor location for almost a year I still had to ask the location of almost every item on my list but found the store staff to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I realized that on all of my other visits I had not really been shopping but merely ‘picking up’ our dinner. There were several sampling stations set up to peddle products new to the store and of course I had to stop by a few. I recommend visiting on the weekends solely for this reason.

For those who love food Urban Fare offers the best of two worlds. While I do not recommend switching to Urban Fare for all of your shopping needs, for anyone who has forgotten the ‘joy of cooking’ it is worth a visit. And for those who prefer that someone else do the cooking the options available on any given day are both plentiful and delicious. While the recipes that I tried did not all exactly turn out to look like their pictures in the books, I did enjoy the experience.
Food – GREAT, Service – GOOD, Atmosphere – GREAT

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