It's Albert from Seattle Gay News, slightly tipsy and in good spirits at the fabulous, new Loden Hotel (http://www.lodenvancouver.com/) in downtown Vancouver. This place is so new that local media just got their first view of it this evening with the grandest of grand opening parties complete with b-boy dancers, burlesque showgirl performances, and yummy appetizers. The room design of this property is spectacular - spacious, neutral decor, views from nearly every room - a fantastic addition to the boutique hotel community in Vancouver.
If you're trekking to Vancouver tomorrow for Madonna, day of show, know that trains are running on time (as of now) but road traffic depends on the weather (it drizzled late afternoon today) and the number of people also making the drive. There are a lot of Seattleites here already, and they're joining their Canadian friends for the first of three nights out on the town (pre-Madonna, night of-Madonna, Halloween).
Speaking of, here's a few more places to dine or cocktail at here in Vancouver:
Irish Heather (http://www.irishheather.com/) is one of the most flocked-to pubs in Vancouver - my friend insisted on taking me there and I'm so glad he did. Located in the developing Gastown district, Irish Heather is loaded with imported bottled beers and local ales on tap like the refreshing Harp Lager. We ordered curry fries and sausage w/ mustard to start, and both were quite good. But the thick, juicy bacon cheeseburger w/ sauteed mushrooms really hit the spot, served alongside a cup of made-from-scratch potato-leek soup. They also offer a beef-Guinness potpie, Japanese-style fish n' chips (with snapper), and a grilled cheese sandwich.
Beyond Restaurant + Lounge (http://www.beyondrestaurant.com/) is a very affordable and highly suggested place to go for breakfast. Tucked inside the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa (on Burrard), this trendy locale's signature "beyond breakfast" includes two free range eggs any style, choice of bacon or sausages, potatoes, and whole wheat toast for just $7. If watching the calories, go for the egg white frittata with asparagus, truffle oil, and mizuna-apple salad. Ample dining area offering tables and booths, unpretentious ambiance, and attentive service combined with well-priced plates makes Beyond a must-visit destination for early morning feeds.
Hon's (no website, 1339 Robson Street) is an eatery visited regularly by both Vancouverites and out of towners. A local-based chain of Chinese diners, the one on Robson is a perfect spot to grub on authentic, low-priced fare in a cafeteria-type setting. The menu features many known favorites, such as almond chicken or pork dumplings or various fried rice dishes, but a good thing to do is to expand your palate by trying new things. Each time I've been here, I've seen just as many single guests as I have couples or families, so it's recommended for solo travelers.
Photo of vegetarian potstickers at Hon's.