On Wednesday night, Jesse and I had the first real date night in too long to count. By “real,” I mean leaving the house before 6:00, going for dinner, taking in a show and watching a play – it felt like a pre-kid extravaganza!
Review of The Sandbar
First stop: The Sandbar, the restaurant that’s seemingly only for the touristy set, but if you’re in the know, you know that Vancouverites who want fresh well-cooked seafood dine here. And while it does have a bit of a Keg feel to the place, be sure to climb the stairs and visit the real jewel of this place – the patio. Yes, it was the first week of December. Despite being draped with the supplied blankets and being warmed by the patio heaters, we still needed to wear our coats to keep out the chill. But the cold was definitely worth the stunning view of downtown and watching the Aqua Bus shuttle back and forth from downtown to Granville Island.
After enjoying a round of yummy oysters topped with the requisite horseradish, seafood sauce and Tabasco, we moved onto our mains ordered from the fresh menu: for Jesse, Ahi tuna with a wasabe sauce and licorice scented rice; and for me, black cod with garlic mash – both wood oven grilled. Delish – although we agreed that the tuna was slightly superior. While we were eating, a neighbouring table was served their dinner with the lobster add-on, and I regretted not doing the same since I was still a bit hungry at the end of the main.
Onto dessert: a phenomenal chocolate pudding with pistachio praline and cream, along with espresso marked with a touch of foam – perfect to finish off the meal.
Be sure to mention if you’re heading to a show afterward: Arts Club theatre-goers receive 15% off their order – a sizable sum since your bill will be in the $100+ range.
The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant
1535 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC | (604) 669-9030
Review of the Arts Club’s It’s a Wonderful Life
After the Sandbar, we headed over to the opening night of It’s a Wonderful Life, the second of this season’s Arts Club Christmas plays adapted from a movie. According to the program notes, playwright Philip Grecian departed from the movie by adding quite an extensive bit about the war. But even so, the play seemed to stick to the main elements of the movie, including black and white movie still backdrops and the overall tone and feel hearkening back to the film.
Like the movie, the play tells the life of George Bailey, played by Bob Frazer, who grows up in Bedford Falls and dreams of nothing but to discover the world and build amazing buildings. Upon his father’s death, George finds himself postponing his adventures to take his father’s position overseeing the town’s only Building and Loan to protect it from the town’s slumlord Henry Potter (Alec Willows), who seems to want nothing more than to see its demise. Throughout his life, George seems clouded over by the loss of his dreams, the seemingly small impact he’s had on the world, as well as an eventual mishap in the play that sends him to the brink of suicide – requiring an intervention from Clarence (Bernard Cuffling), his guardian angel.
Bob Frazer was a convincing and engaging George Bailey – a challenge considering how the role could easily be overshadowed by the iconic Jimmy Stewart. I’m always enchanted whenever kids are in plays and this production was no exception. All the kids were stellar, down to little Zuzu played by Ashley Braun.
Unlike White Christmas, which has a uplifting, campy tone, It’s a Wonderful Life is more sober and contemplative. I found myself touched by the sweet romance between George and Mary (Kirsten Robek) and rooting for George, whose selflessness and courage to stand up in the face of corruption reminds us of charity, generosity and goodness – and Christmas.
The Arts Club Theatre Co., Granville Island Stage
1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC | (604) 687-1644