You can't beat a good happy hour, especially if that hour (or two! or three?) is at Lapellah, one of Vancouver's culinary hotspots: a modern-yet-cozy outpost of exquisite small plates and artfully prepared cocktails, as well as a thoughtful selection of wine and beer and beautifully plated, delcious entrées and desserts.
But let's get back to happy hour. We came somewhere between 4:30 and 5 p.m. on a Sunday night, when the restaurant was full of happy diners, but not overcrowded. We didn't have to wait for a table, although that might have been pure luck, because it seemed that every table was occupied. We sat in a comfortable booth with a view of the lazily spinning copper wind sculptures outside; Lapellah is located in nicely designed Grand Central collection of shops and restaurants surrounding a giant Fred Meyer, on the corner of Columbia Blvd. and Grand Ave. But don't let the supermarket's proximity deter you—Lapellah's architechtural feel is decidedly upscale, and well-situated on a corner next to a landscaped plaza and with plenty of outside seating in the summer.
Once again, I digress; you want to know about the food and drinks, don't you? Fair enough. We ordered, between the four people in our party, six small plates from the happy hour menu. I had soft tacos with smoked brisket that tasted pleasantly of woodsy campfire, and a dish of cured green and black olives with a little rosemary. Others in our party had the Lapellah burger (appropriately flame-broiled and juicy with wide slices of grilled onion and melty cheese), red beans and rice (don't be put off by this humble combination: the beans are perfectly cooked with a spicy kick and slices of sausage), and something called a "Chicken Little Sandwich," which turned out to be a tender buttermilk-soaked piece of fried chicken nestled in a buttery soft roll and topped with a pickle slice. One member of our party asked for pasta primavera, which wasn't on the menu—there's always someone who wants to test the waiter's patience and the chef's ability, isn't there?—and her order was accomodated without the slightest hint of annoyance. The custom dish arrived with a Lapella-like twist on the theme: creamy pasta with tender, translucent onions and roasted Brussels sprouts, among other late winter vegetables.
Now let's get down to the thing that makes happy hour happy: the drinks! The "happy hour cocktail" of the evening—there's an ever-changing selection of featured drinks—was a Cassis Kamikaze, made with a sweet, powerful, dark red liqueur distilled from blackcurrants. It was gooooooooooood. And at just $5 a pop, two wasn't out of the question. We also ordered a gin-and-tonic, which was not stingy on the gin, and a draft pear cider, which was an ideal balance between sweet, fruity, and tangy. On the non-alcoholic end of things, we tried the strawberry lemonade, which is probably the best I've ever tasted and made me at least as happy as the happy hour drinks.
We left the restaurant feeling very happy indeed, and talking about how soon we could return. To see the full happy hour menu, click here.
2520 Columbia House Blvd., Suite 108