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IN 2010, GASTOWN was still struggling to overcome its reputation as nothing more than a down-at-heel neighbourhood where tourists come to gawk at a steam clock. Yet it was here that chef-owner Lee Cooper felt confident about acquiring a historic 19th-century brick-and-beam space that used to house Vancouver’s first jail and converting it into a chic but relaxed fine-dining sanctuary, focused on West Coast ingredients and French technique. Gastown continues to experience its ups and downs, and yet, to this day L’Abattoir maintains a reputation as one of the city’s premium restaurants. While long-time customers insist that some dishes (baked Pacific oysters, steak Diane) never leave the menu, Cooper and his crew otherwise let each season’s regional bounty guide their creations. In spring and summer, that might mean spot prawns, salmon and blackberries will inform the kitchen’s creative vision. For those not opposed to an early reservation, the recently introduced avant-première prix fixe (available before 6 p.m.) offers three courses from the à la carte menu. Wines and cocktails achieve commensurate standards of excellence.

Better than ever — and it has always been one of the finest fine-dining experiences in Vancouver. Mijune Pak
Don’t miss
Pastry chef Oliver Bernardino’s ice cream cake, with dark chocolate and Armagnac.

Photography by Eric Milic Photography

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