DINER | Inside Chinatown’s Mamie Taylor’s – Opening This Weekend On East Georgia
by Andrew Morrison | Local bartenders turned restaurateurs Simon Kaulback (long at Boneta) and Ron Oliver (long at The Diamond) are almost ready to reveal their much anticipated Chinatown eatery and watering hole, Mamie Taylor’s. Today (Tuesday) is D-day for them, as they hope to get their occupancy and liquor permits before the sun sets. Once those ducks are lined up, they’ll be fully into launch mode.
I took a look yesterday while chef Tobias Grignon was readying his open kitchen and the front of house was being hung with all manner of well worn taxidermy. Among the many animals adorning the walls of the 100 seater at 251 East Georgia (across from Phnom Penh) are several bucks, a bobcat (I think), two bears, a wild boar, a raven, and a ring-necked pheasant. I particularly liked the smirking mink that crowns the beer taps. The dead animal motif might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I grew up with the stuff so makes me kind of homesick (my pop was an avid hunter who decorated his farm with such things). The wild kingdom theme continues in the washrooms with painstakingly-applied single target sheets employed as wallpaper, and on the dishes themselves. Sourced from thrift stores and garage sales, each one is different. Picking up a beaten up charger depicting a colourful turkey in a rural scene, Simon jokes, “Yup, we’ve spent the majority of our meagre resources on decorative plates.” Well, it’s probably cheaper than Puddifoot.
As you can see from the shots above and below, they still have a little bit of work to do, but it’s pretty much all cosmetic from here on in. They hope to have a couple of friends and family nights later this week and there’s a very good chance that they’ll open for real this weekend. When they do, we can expect top drawer cocktails (a given with these guys) and American gastropub fare. I’ve seen their dance card, and drooled over the prospect of a veal tongue Monte Cristo; meatballs with dates and bacon; fried chicken with buttermilk biscuits and watermelon; whole roasted trout with charred broccoli and Louisiana buerre blanc; and so on. I don’t want to give the whole thing away, but it’s a genuine original with prices ranging from $4 to $20 per dish. I can’t wait to give it a whirl.
I’m also looking forward to seeing my old friend Eryn Collins back in action (she’s actually rather young). She recently returned to Vancouver from lengthy travels in Asia and was hired on the spot. Most will recognize her from her years as Chambar’s patient, charming gatekeeper. We used to work together at the Beach House way back in the day, and I’ve long though she was one of the best in the business. Joining her in the front is James Towler, most recently of La Pentola (previously Cibo and Chambar), among a solid cast of others. Simon and Ron will of course be omnipresent behind the bar, which anchors the room.
Vancouver has been well endowed with a great and long overdue range of interesting vegan and vegetarian eateries of late, and though I love Heirloom, The Parker, The Acorn, The Black Lodge et al to bits, I’m very glad that Mamie Taylor’s is not one of them. Sometimes an omnivore just needs to feel a chicken fried sweetbread dissolve on his fangs over curried gravy and an Old Fashioned chaser.
Andrew Morrison is the editor-in-chief of Scout and BC’s Senior Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and TV shows on local food, culture and travel. He live and works in the vibrant Strathcona neighbourhood, where he also collects inexpensive things and enjoys birds, skateboards, whisky, shoes, many songs, and the smell of wood fires.