102 Water St. may be one of the better addresses in Gastown, but I think it’s also one of the most abused. It’s been at least six restaurants since its days as the lobby of the old Winters Hotel (Vallarta, Daiwa Sushi, etc). Maybe even more. Its most recent tenant was Chronic Tacos, a chain restaurant that had all the personality of a brick. The old 1906 building, designed by William Tuff Whiteway, is crying out for some stability out front, and I think they’ll get some now. The Flying Pig, a two year old, chef-owned restaurant in Yaletown, has just signed for and taken possession of the space this afternoon.
Owner/chefs John Crook (bottom left) and Erik Heck (top right) are turning it into be a second location of their fledgling brand, with the doors expected to before the end of April. They hope to add a long bar to pretty much exactly where the hotel’s old bar used to be before it was ripped out, and they’re downsized the entirety from 175 seats to 140. There will be a lounge side and a dining side (with the 30 seat mezzanine), with the adjacent space that housed Chronic Tacos’ “to go” operation seeing a community table for 14-16 people. This latter space will be used for private functions and as a chef’s table at night and as a sit-down/takeaway delicatessen by day. A two section patio (Abbott St. and Water St.) will seat an additional 35.
The lovely old bones of the place aren’t far beneath the surface. It’s a “lipstick and make-up job”, says Crook of the renovation. As for the menu, expect it to be the same as the one in Yaletown, which is to say that the food will be hearty, rib-sticking, and delicious. I think their drink offerings could use some improvement (a tasty Caesar cocktail and a good Negroni, but the beer and wine lists are weak), but food at The Flying Pig is riveting, the kind of place where cravings are well met, especially at lunch, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Mmm, short rib macaroni, crispy brussells sprouts, three pea soup with ham hock, creamed corn…you know what I mean?