DINER: Bartenders Simon Kaulback & Ron Oliver Opening Tavern In Chinatown (2013)

November 6, 2012.

by Andrew Morrison | Two well liked and highly respected front of house veterans are teaming up to open a place of their own. Former Bartender of the Year Simon Kaulback of Boneta and Ron Oliver of The Diamond have picked up the recently closed Keefer Bakery location in the heart of Chinatown – 251 East Georgia opposite Phnom Penh – and they will soon take possession.

Though they aren’t 100% sure what the dinner-only 100 seater will be called yet (they’re down to just two names), they have the food concept figured out. From our conversations and my read of their first conceptual menu draft (penned by a chef friend of theirs), it sounds to me like they’re planning to do something akin to adventurous American comfort food, the kind of gastropubbish, rough and ready (but nevertheless refined) sort of thing one eats at Calgary’s Model Milk, Portland’s Woodsman Tavern, New York’s Spotted Pig, Charleston’s Husk, and San Francisco’s Park Tavern. They have yet to hire a chef to translate their vision, so if you’ve ever worn a white toque and you dig all of the above, give them a shout because they’re in need.

As far as the design and feel of the place are concerned, I think we’re going to see something like a cross between Chambar and The Narrow: a busy, somewhat dark, possibly leathery, woody, and taxidermish comfort zone with a guttural soundtrack and an expertly run 14 seat bar. I like to imagine that it’s being built with Norman Rockwell in mind, but only if he ditched the whole art thing to become a lumberjack who was particularly fond of bourbon and armed with an old lever-action Winchester. You know what I mean?

Clearly, it’s a tricky concept to pin down, and that elusiveness has everything to do with the fact that we haven’t really seen anything like it yet in Vancouver. And that’s never a bad thing. Expect opening night sometime in the Spring/Summer of 2013.

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