One of our favorite stops in Vancouver has always been the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver’s English Bay neighborhood. On a recent visit, we discovered that Sylvia’s Lounge has introduced a new, budget priced “Appy Hour” menu. Now that’s good news for travellers. This new offering comes as a precursor to changes that are expected to BC’s Liquor Laws.

Appy Hour is between 3:00 – 6:00 pm from Monday to Friday. The new menu offers a choice of four different small plates (or appetizers), as well as white and red wine, and a feature beer. Food, wine and beer choices are all valued priced at $5 each. At this price it’s worthwhile to sample everything.

The Chicken Tikka Masala Tartlets included two very large and flaky pastry tarts filled with fragrant Indian spiced chicken morsels. Use a fork, as these are not mini two-bite tarts. Although I found the chicken a little dry, the overall taste was delicious.

My favorite snack was the Flatbread topped with a reduction of balsamic cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese, feta and arugula. It’s essentially a little pizza with delicious toppings that perfectly complement each other.

Soft Shell Crab (1/2 of a fried crab served on a bed of mixed greens) and Salt and Pepper Pork Ribs are also available during Appy Hour. The crab was great, although the sweet chili aioli was missing on my order. The pork ribs included six in an order and, although fall-off-the-bone tender, they lacked in flavor and were somewhat fatty. My companion and I differed in opinion on the accompanying Lime Chutney. I thought it was an epic fail, while he deemed the chutney, ‘different’.

Sylvia’s Bar is a worthwhile and economical place to enjoy a late afternoon repast and one of the prettiest, street-level views of English Bay in the area.

The concept of ‘Happy Hour’ in the US is a common enough occurrence and every day residents and visitors alike enjoy discounted drinks and food. This practice brings business into restaurants and bars during typically quieter times of the day.

British Columbia, in Canada, has not enjoyed the same benefit. That is until now. BC’s antiquated liquor laws are in the process of a much needed overhaul. And with tourism being one of the leading drivers in BC’s economy, this overhaul can’t come soon enough.

The new laws will allow hotel customers to carry drinks purchased in the lounge up to their rooms, instead of having hotel staff carry them up, as currently required by law. The new liquor law changes will also permit establishments to offer time-limited drink specials with discounted pricing, allow extended hours for ordering from room service, and allow patrons to order liquor without the onus of ordering food as well, as required in restaurants that hold a Food-Primary liquor license. The new laws will also allow local BC wine to be sold at local farmers markets.