File photo: Mark trying to enjoy Christmas

As an intern for Glance Pay tasked with writing about the 12 Days of Glance holiday deal, my co-workers found something out about me that I don’t usually share this time of year.

I don’t care much for Christmas.

No traumatic tinsel accidents, I just don’t like the holidays.

In order to “get my little Grinch heart to grow”, I’ve been asked to visit some of our Vancouver restaurants this Christmas. I really can’t argue with going to a bunch of restaurants and getting $10 off every place. Here’s how my “market research” went:

Day 1: Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co: Main Street.

It smells so good in here. Rocky Mountain Flatbread specializes in fresh, handmade pizza and flat breads. While I was impressed with the option to build your own pizza from the sauce up, I decided to leave it to the professionals. The server steered me towards the “Farmers Market” and his aim was true. On to the next!

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Day 2: The Fountainhead Pub

The Fountainhead has a buoyant energy that you can’t help but feel. Is this the first transformative step in realizing the Christmas spirit? No. I’m mainly realizing my own fabulous spirit, but I am feeling more festive I suppose. Oh, and the wings here are so GOOD. No wonder they were recognized by Georgia Straight as some of the best in the city.

Grinch Level 

Day 3: Kingston Taphouse

Phew, This is just what I need after a long day of yuletide struggle. A quintessential neighborhood pub in downtown Vancouver with a solid tap list, great food, and friendly staff. This isn’t my first time, and it won’t be my last. I’m still feeling decidedly grinchy though. Thanks for letting me be me, Kingston.

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Day 4: Banana Leaf Kitsilano
Ok, this…THIS is it. Banana Leaf is so good, and has so much flavour that it’s like your mouth is bolting out of a culinary coma. I’m not sure if it’s the Christmas spirit, or Malaysian spice that’s gotten into my bones, but I’m now walking with a spring in my step.

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Day 5: Bogart’s

Ok, Bogart’s has superb cocktails. Come on, isn’t that what people mean by having a cup of cheer? I start with the Black Raspberry Lemon drop, and move on to a frothy Bourbon Sour. From there, I decide to pack it in as this is still a relatively new job, and I want to keep it classy.

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Day 6: Black Frog Eatery

Annnnd back to the pubs. Black Frog is tucked away down a Gastown side street, so it almost feels like a secret. I sit down for a beer and the moon burger with melted brie. As I watch camera-armed tourists gather around the Steam Clock as they mingle with locals on the prowl for Christmas gifts, I start to feel a little something stir inside. Is this what my colleagues were talking about? Could it be? Is my frostbitten centre beginning to thaw? What’s happening to meeeeeeeeee.

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Day 7: Steel Toad Brewing Company

It may surprise you at this point, but as this is now my 7th day of the crawl I’m beginning to feel a bit looser, a bit…cooler. My shoulders have left the strain of Christmas shopping behind, and my work reputation has evolved into being something of a socialite. One Steel Toad Oatmeal Stout, please!

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Day 8: Jack Lonsdale’s

Ok, I’ve hit a wall. This place is great, and the spicy asian lettuce wraps with crispy chicken are second to none, but I can’t help but looking off into the North Vancouver mountains with a solemn, pensive look. Is there more to Christmas than just eating wonderful food, and partying all the time? I wonder. I wonder….

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Day 9: The Park Pub

My stoic gaze continues today as I bathe the in the views of English Bay. I was so close! I really thought I had a handle on this Christmas thing, but I fear it may have just been the bubbly speaking. As I finish my flight of craft beer and dig into my homestyle mac n’ cheese with cheddar, and crispy parmesan panko, I can’t help but feel betrayed by my frosty constitution. Have I begun to soften, or will I always put the “NO” in Noel? Maybe I should pack it in and just accept that I will never know what Christmas is all about.

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Day 10: Las Margaritas

Today I woke up feeling a little empty. Just another pothole in my long road of holiday doldrums. As I sit down at Las Margaritas, ready to eat my feelings, something happens. Complimentary chips and salsa? Don’t mind if I do! The server is warm and the mango mezcal margarita pairs exquisitely with my chicken enchiladas. Yes I’m eating feelings, and feelings are delicious. Let the healing begin!

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Day 11: Portland Craft

With two more to go, I’ve found my second wind! This place has a SUPREME beer list. They often do guest tap takeovers where their beer list is curated by a specific brewery. Pretty cool. The lamb meatballs are damn good as well.

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Day 12: Legend’s Pub

I made it. The final day. It’s been a wild and mysterious ride, but it’s time to tie things up in a neat Christmas bow. Legend’s Pub in Richmond is like walking into a warm Christmas home. You know, if it were a sports bar. Watching games with my brethren, shooting pool, and taking in the impressive sports memorabilia, I can’t help but feel like a part of the community. Maybe that’s what it’s all about.

Tomorrow I’m going to kick down the office door and declare that I finally am well versed with the spirit of the Season. Merry Christmas, Glance Pay!

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Grumpy cat image courtesy of Lifetime (So, not really a picture of me, but close enough.)

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