Review: Vancouver’s Notch8 restaurant at the Fairmont

Notch8’s dining room has private booths or, if you’re looking to show off, more public pews

A glamorous new dining room honours the Hotel Vancouver’s railway roots

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s new restaurant includes subtle references to the former Canadian Pacific hotel’s railway heritage, starting with the name: a diesel locomotive’s throttle has eight notches, with top speed at Notch 8. The decor mixes vintage black and white photos, leather luggage handles on chair backs, and booths reminiscent of train compartments with graphic zebra- patterned upholstery, sleek waterfall countertops and modern pendant lights.

The menu is also classic—with a modern twist: “What’s old is new again,” says executive chef Cameron Ballendine. Lunch dishes include oysters on the half shell (lime and raspberry mignonette), fish and chips (battered halibut, hand-cut fries, sunflower slaw, remoulade) and steak frites (New York sirloin, Pont Neuf potatoes, jus). “People know them and they’re unpretentious and they taste good. These dishes have stood the test of time, and it fits in beautifully to the theme, so that’s the idea behind it.”

BEST TABLE: The upholstered booths toward the back of the restaurant are cozy and intimate, but pew seating at the front is also enclosed while letting you see and be seen.

MUST-TRY ORDER: Rotisserie chicken (available daily) or the fire-roasted daily feature: pork rack, sirloin, prawns, porchetta, turkey, lamb leg or duck. The pull-apart bread made with stout, comte cheese and mustard seed is good for sharing.

DRINK UP: The maple hickory old fashioned made with hickory-infused Woodford Reserve craft bourbon, maple liquor and local bitters is served in a wobbly “dancing tumbler” that is fun to play with.

INSIDER TIP: The private dining room, tucked away down three steps, feels like a library with its low tin ceiling, book-lined wall, subdued lighting and wire-front cabinets filled with whiskies and cognacs.