As noted on Tablespotting this morning, Pinkys has closed in Yaletown, and I doubt it was on account of their inability to use an apostrophe correctly. The steakhouse landed in the forsaken LK Dining Lounge location to mixed reviews a little over a year ago, sort of a hybrid cross between an Earls and a Keg, with a little Barbie thrown in for God know’s why.
Here are some review notes that I wrote after being introduced to it last winter…
I had my low to medium expectations met with the food. The steaks were of good quality, cooked and seasoned as expertly as I can get outside the better steakhouses, and the satellite accoutrements were at par. A return visit saw me perch atop a faux cow hide stool dyed a hairy shade of pink. Portraits of a pair of pug dogs and two cartoonishly painted women hiking up their dresses made me want to hurl. On the wall above the open kitchen window (where the combined age of the kitchen crew amounted to about 12), ten feet of bright dressing room lights spelled out the word ROCKSTAR. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself in the middle of a Much Music set (as I dream of a second career as an Assistant Grip), but the youth of it all, punctuated by the impossibly sculpted decolletage of the perky staff and the greatest hits soundtrack (both trying so hard not to annoy anyone), almost proved intoxicating (again, not a male staff member visible, save for the chefs and the management). Enter the oldies menu: cheese toast, coconut prawns, 1000 Island soaked salad, onion rings, and several modes of steak from teriyaki sirloin and whiskey medallions to organic rib eye and porterhouse, all edible standards at very reasonable prices. Imagination sits at nil. Some of it was quite tasty, even the soggy chili nachos, but it’s still more of an upscale diner than it is a downscale steakhouse, the kind of place Betty and Veronica would use to cruise for dates just a step up from Archie and Jughead. Fun, to be certain, and very well put together, but still somehow lacking in the soul and fire department, just like the rest of the chains. Pinkys might have a slight stink of ubiquity about it, but it’s still too soon to know how strong their Febreeze is. If the crowded room is any indication, it’s extra strength.
Well, so much for that. The downturn might have had something to do with the failure, but anyone marketing “snappy starters and yummy desserts” with a straight face is probably doomed in any event. I assume the new Earls location up the street is partly to blame as well. The recently opened behemoth – immediately dubbed The Super Douche Palace by the funniest people I know – must have eaten away at some of their base clientele of suited salivators and suburban gangsters real and imagined. Business is business, et cetera.
So, in a roundabout way it’s as if a monster truck just drove over a Hummer, which makes it doubly difficult to take it as a loss for Vancouver’s food scene. It’s never nice to hear about a restaurant closing down, and though I was never a big fan of this particular one I can’t help but shudder for those who’ve been knocked out of work as a consequence. It’s not a good time to be pounding the pavement. My hope is that they all get absorbed into the other Pinkys location in Kits, and that an Earls doesn’t open just down the street from them too. “There are now more Earls restaurants in downtown Vancouver than there are McDonalds,” a friend told me recently. Think about that for a second and try not to die.