The Foodie’s version of Heaven: The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

The Foodie’s version of Heaven: The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

I first heard about the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (1505 2nd Avenue West , Vancouver, BC V6H 3Y4) while watching Rachael Ray’s $40.00 a day show on The Food Network’s channel back in 2006.  Rachael was tasked to buy Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for under $40.00.  This particular show had her searching the city of  Vancouver for those elusive restaurant deals and P.I.C.A. was one of her choices.  My daughter and I were planning a trip there because we had frequent flier miles to redeem and we were fortunate enough to get a crazy deal for a great hotel on Priceline.  So, we thought it might be a good idea to check it out.   Besides, P.I.C.A. is located right outside the entrance to Granville Island which was convenient since that was another stop on our itinerary.

Founded in 1996,  P.I.C.A.’s cooks are actually students who are training to become chefs of fancy restaurants that I will never be able to afford.  Seriously, Bistro 101 is a teaching restaurant that provides real world experience for up and coming culinary masters.  Students work in every position of the restaurant: from the cook to the host to the server to the bus boy…..they get to experience all aspects of running a restaurant.

Upon our arrival in Vancouver, we decided to visit the restaurant the next day since we had plans to go to Granville Island.  We didn’t stay as long as we had thought we would at Granville, so we ended up having a very early lunch at 11 am.  Luckily, they were open and we were ushered to our table.  It’s a very unassuming place.  There were no fancy accouterments, just a clean and simple dining room that was set up buffet style.  On the table closest to the door, there were an array of delectable desserts like chocolate mousse, strawberry shortcake cupcakes, cheesecake, and truffles.

Immediately past our table was a lone buffet table with ‘starters’ that consisted of cured salmon, apple and cured herring salad, escargot bourgeon, asparagus, prawns, seared tuna, eggs Benedict, mussels, Israeli couscous, peach and papaya relish.

After we had a few minutes to handle the business end of this buffet, we were each presented with our main meal (that we were allowed to order as we nibbled on our buffet largess) which was a plate of Pork loin medallions w/peach chutney sauce, prawns, grilled salmon and our sides were yams, rice cakes w/ red peppers and asparagus.

We thought that we had died and gone to heaven.  The price for this ridiculous amount of truly delicious food?  $25.00 pp!  We were fortunate to have a BOGO coupon from the Vancouver City Passport coupon book.  I think the discount is only 25% off now, which is still pretty decent but 2011 books won’t be available until May 2011.  Also, tipping was not allowed.

Now, of course, this was over four years ago….things have to be a little different, right?  Sorta!  It appears that the buffet is served only on Friday during lunch ($20.00) and again for dinner ($30.00).  From Monday to Thursday, they serve a Prix fixe menu which is nothing to sneeze at.  Check out a sample of their 3 course lunch menu for $18.00 pp (drinks are extra).  Their dinner menu sample is equally impressive at 24.00 pp.  Again, the drinks are extra and the menu changes daily.

Every Wednesday, they offer their wine list at a 50% discount.  Also, they highly recommend reservations these days….I’m going to guess it’s because everybody and their grandma have found out about this gem of a restaurant.  You can give them a call at +1-604-734-0101 or make an online reservation.

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

Gastronomic delights from the buffet

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

This was our main meal

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

Ok, looks like someone couldn’t wait for dessert

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

Irrefutable proof that there is a god and s/he is good.

There is also something new that they have now that didn’t exist when we were there that I think is really cool.  They host  “A Plugged-In Walking Tour & Taste of Granville Island Market“.   Here, one of the chefs leads a one and a half hour guided tour of Granville Island, where the participants are introduced to local artisans, food vendors and farmers who bring their wares to market on a daily basis.  Upon completion of the tour, the guests return to P.I.C.A. for a three course luncheon and are gifted with a titular canvas tote, coffee and fresh pastry from their bakery.  Sounds like fun to me! Bon Apetit!



Renee King
  • Jozef Maxted
    Posted at 11:50h, 19 December Reply

    Yum that looks delicious! Well done you have succeeded in making me extremely hungry! haha *Runs off to get some food* ;p
    Jozef Maxted recently posted…First Contact From BenMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:17h, 22 December Reply

      LOL! Sorry about that!

  • The NVR Guys
    Posted at 15:05h, 19 December Reply

    Looks delicious. We tend to make it up to Vancouver at least once a year (sounds like we will see you at TBEX this summer) and will give it a shot. Thanks for the tip.
    The NVR Guys recently posted…Reality CheckMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:23h, 22 December Reply

      Hey Guys,
      No, I won’t make it to Vancouver this year, but you have a great time and yes….definitely check P.I.C.A. out!

  • inka
    Posted at 03:55h, 20 December Reply

    I love it when food doesn’t only taste good but is beautifully presented as well. A double work of art.
    inka recently posted…Indulge your sweet tooth in Istanbul’s Spice MarketMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:24h, 22 December Reply

      I agree 100%! Thanks for dropping by!

  • Migrationology
    Posted at 03:55h, 20 December Reply

    That looks great! I remember when my cousin was training to be a chef and she would make some of these similar meals to experiment on me! Looks well worth the price!
    Migrationology recently posted…18 Reasons You Should be Wearing a Man DressMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:29h, 22 December Reply

      I know that you were happy to help your cousin out, right? Try a new dish? Yeah, I’ll be your guinea pig….lol.

  • Barb Justason
    Posted at 10:48h, 20 December Reply

    I believe PICA was founded in (or around) 1997 because they catered our wedding March 1, 1997.

    • Renee
      Posted at 14:05h, 20 December Reply

      I could just hug you! Thanks for catching that…don’t know why I put that date instead of the correct one….1996. I’ve corrected it.

  • Christy
    Posted at 11:56h, 20 December Reply

    Thanks for the tip on the coupon book. Love the food photos!
    Christy recently posted…Big Sunday – A Healthy Dose of FearMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:29h, 22 December Reply

      Thanks, Christy! I just hate that it’s no longer a BOGO coupon!

  • Lorna - the roamantics
    Posted at 01:24h, 22 December Reply

    great post renee! so glad to hear about this before heading to TBEX in june! delicious photos and i agree- a culinary school is a great way to get a tasty meal at a fraction of the price. yum!
    Lorna – the roamantics recently posted…Out of the Mouths of Babes- Travel LessonsMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:29h, 22 December Reply

      It will be such a treat….let me know how it goes!

  • JL
    Posted at 01:58h, 23 February Reply

    Yum, what a spread, girl! Gotta love Priceline coming through with the awesome deal, that’s incredible – thanks much for the share!
    JL recently posted…Education for Culinary ArtsMy Profile

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