It’s Dine the Couve Month all of October. If you are in the Portland, Oregon area or southwest Washington, this is a chance to sample the culinary goodness of Vancouver (The Couve) Washington. Many of the chefs source locally and that means your meals will have fresh ingredients typical of the area and the season. It’s a good way to get to know Vancouver and the bounty of area farmers without ruining your budget.
This is the second time Vancouver restaurants and beverage purveyors have collaborated on an event like Dine the Couve. And it’s exciting. Vancouver’s restaurant and brewery scene continues to grow at a rapid pace and, as a local, I’ll add that the traffic is much less congested than just across the river in foodie Portland.
Dine the Couve—Niche Wine Bar
Last year, the inaugural year, friends and I decided to check out one restaurant per week for the special three-course menus. We opted to focus on locally-owned restaurants.
First, we went to Niche Wine Bar and Bistro. Niche is located in downtown Vancouver next to the vintage Kiggins Theater. It’s a welcoming place with a European bistro vibe. Art flows into the wine bar from Angst, the gallery next door. There’s always some new and creative art to check out.
Now, one of my friends frequents Niche (read, almost every weekend) and often orders the special Niche Sandwich. But during the month of October, Niche offered something new. The three-course meal started with a creamy fondue, included a salad of fresh greens and an intriguing pot-pie… so she ordered it.
The chicken pot-pie, especially, was excellent. Everything is made from scratch at Niche and great care goes into Chef Dave’s creations. And, of course, owner Leah can suggest a wine pairing. We’ll be checking out their menu again this year.
Dine the Couve—La Bottega
The second week, we got together a dining group to go to La Bottega, just up the street in Uptown, Vancouver. Dine the Couve Month gave us all a great excuse to get together to break bread, without breaking our budgets!
La Bottega is an Italian café, wine shop and deli specializing in fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, making everything from scratch. They offer an outstanding wine list with, of course, a great selection of Italian wines. They are known for their pasta dishes.
For Dine the Couve last year, La Bottega offered two choices of salad, three choices of pasta and topped it off with a light and fluffy Tiramisu dessert.
After just two foodie experiences, we all agreed that we needed to continue meeting that way. So we scheduled weekly Dine the Couve experiences through the end of October coordinated on Facebook Events pages.
Dine the Couve—Grays at the Park
Our next culinary adventure was to Grays at the Park, also in downtown Vancouver. The restaurant is located inside the Hilton Hotel and across the street from Esther Short Park. We arrived in time for Happy Hour and had a reservation for Dine the Couve.
Our group enjoyed a Happy Hour glass of wine and the view of the Salmon Run Bell Tower as the rainy weather cleared.
We were shown to a comfortable booth. Again, there were choices for the three-course meal. Most of our group went for the salad and top sirloin. I opted for Salmon (after all, we were across the street from the Salmon Run Bell Tower!) Another option, the Soup of the Day, chicken tortilla soup, was ideal on a damp fall day.
We laughed and talked and were there a good two hours. No one rushed us. We topped our meal off with a flaky crust apple pie and vanilla ice cream. We had a wonderful time. The bill totaled $23 for the marvelous meal (wine was extra, of course).
Dine the Couve—Willems on Main
Lastly, our group chose another downtown favorite, Willems on Main. Paul Klitsie, a native of the Netherlands, brings his European influence to his restaurant where he sources locally, even buying greens and mushrooms from local forest foragers.
His Dine the Couve menu started with a bruschetta and featured his Sautéed Speatzli with a meat or veggie option. I enjoyed it with the Mayer’s Meats garlic bratwurst accompanied by braised red cabbage with apple and stone ground mustard. The meal was finished off with a Mascarpone Torte.
This year, we’ll be hard pressed to top those menus but look forward to new restaurants being added and new creative menus.
Tips for Dine the Couve
– Some restaurants take reservations and some do not. Make a reservation if they do.
– You may need to request the special Dine the Couve Menu.
– It’s not just about the three course meals. Wine bars and breweries are offering $3 beverages during Dine the Couve.
– Spread the word via social media. Post your photos and tweet your delight. Use the #dinethecouve tag on Twitter and Instagram.
Ready, set… get out there and dine!
When You Go to Vancouver, Washington
The Dine the Couve website lists the participating restaurants, tasting rooms and breweries as well as menus.
Vancouver, Washington (not to be confused with Vancouver, Canada) is located across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. In fact, Vancouver is closer to the Portland International Airport than many Portland area suburbs. Vancouver has a growing arts scene and a fantastic trail system, great for biking or walking off those Dine the Couve calories. See more of Wander With Wonder’s Washington food, wine and travel articles.