1265 Hamilton St.

Rating: ****
Dinner & drinks for two: $90
Signature Dish: Poutine pizza
Signature Drink: Caesar



The long line of restaurants that have passed through the doors in quick succession at 1265 Hamilton has been a sad and sorry spectacle in what should have been prime resto real estate. Businesses like Pinky’s, a coffee shop and sundry others came and went without leaving their mark, and I feared the location was irredeemable. That is, until recently, when Charlie’s opened, and—to my mind—successfully chased the ghosts of restaurants past away.

It may be in a formerly cursed location, but I think this is the formula that will prove successful. Charlie’s menu is simple (only two mains) and largely focuses on one thing—but that one thing is done extremely well. Well, that and the cocktails—the Caesar ($10), for instance, is stand-out and made from scratch.

In case you’re still at a loss, it’s the pizza that makes this such a fab joint. Thin crusts that you can fold in on themselves in true southern-Italian style—I think the last time I tasted such an amazing crust was actually in Naples—are topped with high quality ingredients in inventive, smart combinations. And for those who feel that the true Neapolitan crust must be charred and crispy to fit the bill—I suggest you stop by Piazza de Gesu on your next trip to Naples and sample the margherita at Cibo before passing judgement.

One night saw us trying the poutine pizza ($19) which was almost too sinful. A bordelaise sauce was topped with mozzarella, cheese curds, shavings of fingerling potatoes, and rosemary sea salt. The short rib ($25) was even better, spread with tomato sugo, slow-braised short rib, caramelized onion, cheese and a horseradish cream that could sing a capella if it wanted.

Another night had us sampling the duck ($25), which was smothered in porcini mushroom sauce, smoked duck, portobellini mushrooms, tallegio cheese and—heaven—a bit of truffle oil.

Mix one of these pies with a drink like the Champers Thyme ($11), a fresh cocktail of Hendricks, apple, cucumber and mint, and you have insta-love on the palate. A word of warning, however: These pies are not individually sized. Each is large enough to feed at least two moderately hungry people.

Desserts were hit-and-miss, with a meringue plate ($8) lacking cohesion, while a banana pie over shortbread crust ($10) was a wonder. But that’s no biggie, because what you should be coming here for are the mouth-licious pizzas and the wicked drinks. And that is plenty.

Milkshakes are the new Manhattan
It is officially spring, and what could tastier on a warm, spring day—or even a cold, wet one—than a frothy milkshake? For something different, try the PB&J at Society. Yes, that’s right, this milkshake is a mix of smooth peanut butter ice cream and strawberry jam, topped with the requisite dollop of cream. No peanut butter ice cream at home? Substitute with Reese’s peanut butter cups for a chocolate-peanut butter twist.

Dining Out
Dining by Candlelight
This Saturday, March 27 is Earth Hour. Support positive climate change and reduce your carbon footprint by dining by candlelight at one of these fine restaurants: C, Elixir Bistro, Miku, Nu, Raincity Grill, and Yew. Check individual restaurant websites for details.

Something’s Fishy
April 1 marks the French holiday of Poissons d’Avril, and in honour of the event, Provence Marinaside (1177 Marinaside Crescent) will be once again celebrating with a very fishy menu, indeed. From sablefish to sardines, this is a menu you won’t want to miss. Call 604-681-4144 for details and reservations.

Eating for Charity
Dine Out for Life is this Thursday, March 25! Over 230 restaurants from Whistler to White Rock are taking part, so don’t miss your chance to breakfast, lunch or dine for a great cause.


In Brief
English Bay Expansion
It’s official, The Cactus Club Group of restaurants has won the bid to operate the restaurant that will be part of the new concession/dining space at English Bay.

Now Open
Relish GastroPub & Bar is now open at 888 Nelson Street for lunch, dinner and late night drinks. Check out the gnocchi poutine.