IN A STYLE befitting the collectible Be@rbricks, LEGO Stormtroopers and Michael Jordan action figures that playfully appoint this minimalist black-and-white room, AnnaLena has quickly grown beyond its cool-kid status and evolved into something of a Vancouver cult classic.Three years after opening, it now bounces back into our Top 50. Loyal clients living nearby in Kits Beach drop in with astonishing regularity for crunchy buttermilk fried chicken, chilled oysters showered in shaved foie gras and seemingly simple bowls of shelled mussels boldly flavoured by layered broths, foams and gels with torn chunks of toasted brioche for dipping. Destination diners come for more elaborate tasting menus that breezily cross cultures (roasted beets with charred labneh and candied pistachio, for instance, followed by soy-ginger pork belly with smoked carrots on savoury oat porridge).Dishes are beautifully plated with colourful swirls, arcs and leafy flourishes, and paired with innovative cocktails (often involving smoked milk, honey and ice) or interesting wines (mostly natural and sometimes poured from brown bags for blind tastings). While lavish, the creativity is tightly composed and largely driven by chef-owner Mike Robbins’ sincere belief that in order to attract and retain the best staff, they must be constantly learning. Every Thursday, he hosts an open classroom to teach them new techniques and lessons in the business of running a restaurant. His grandmothers, Anna and Lena, must be proud.