by Andrew Morrison | I toured The Emerald last night. The second-floor, old school Vegas-inspired restaurant and lounge from Rachel Zottenberg and David Duprey (The Narrow, Rumpus Room, Rickshaw, Fox Cabaret) is set to open next week at 555 Gore Street between Keefer and Pender on the eastern edge of Chinatown. They’re doing a private friends and family dry run this evening and then opening to the public – softly – on Monday night.
The Emerald is split into four sections – a 23 seat bar and lounge, a 65 seat dining room complete with white linen table cloths, a semi-private “boardroom” long table, and a still-unfinished performance venue tucked away in the back that will showcase live comedy acts and such.
It’s pretty amazing what they’ve done with the place. I certainly didn’t expect to find what I found when I climbed the ruby-carpeted stairs. What used to be the old Fu Wah dim sum joint (the place had been dormant since before the Boer War) has been transformed into something straight out of Nevada, circa 1960. There are Rothko paintings (copies on canvas done by a friend) on the walls, round tables, deep set booths, vintage blown glass bric-a-brac set in the room dividers, a mounted sailfish, cozy recliners, huge chandeliers, even a bearskin. It’s almost like a movie set, and there’s nothing on the exterior that hints at the interior save for an old Sinatra quote on the awning: “The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.”
The menu fits it like a glove. Think scampi, prawn cocktail, waffle fries, shake and bake cauliflower, tea sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs (including a vegetarian version), and a great many other things that gel with the theme. There are about 15 beer taps in the lounge, nearly all of them craft and local, plus a deep list of vernacular cocktails that includes a Bloody Caesar made at the table from a push cart (an accidental nod to the room’s dim sum past?).
The hours will be from 5pm to midnight seven days a week with cheap Vegas-style brunches on weekends.