DINER | First Look Inside “Cinara” – Highly Anticipated New Eatery On West Pender St.

March 21, 2014.

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by Andrew Morrison | Cinara, the new 40 seat European/Italian eatery from La Pentola owner/chef Lucais Syme and his wife Jill, is set to open next week at 350 W. Pender. That’s the 1,500 sqft space occupying the main floor corner of the recently renovated Victoria Block at West Pender and Homer, right nexG door to our friends at The Paper Hound bookshop, across the street from the original location of Finch’s, and umbilically attached to the Victorian Hotel.

I took a look inside the highly anticipated eatery this morning and they look very close to being finished. The final building inspection is slated for this afternoon, so the place was a hive of activity. All of their staffing is done, and if all goes according to plan, they hope to do a trial run with friends and family on Wednesday night. If everything goes off without a hitch, they’ll offer their first proper service to the public on Thursday.

The dinner menu had me drooling. There’s plenty of small plates (duck pie, venison bresaola, humpback shrimp in bisque sauce, seafood antipasto); starters (prosciutto-wrapped rabbit terrine, corned veal tongue with fregola and clams0; mid-sized sharables (stuffed squid, coarse-grained polenta with nettles and pecorino); mains (beef shoulder with anchovy salsa verde, roasted branzino with sauce grebiche); plus dolce with a selection of cheeses. It all reads very well, and since we know who we’re dealing with in Lucais and Jill, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Vancouverites are in for a real winner here.

But what’s in a name? Here’s what we made of it when we broke the news of Cinara’s coming back in October:

“The name of the place – pronounced Chinara – is a nod to the humble artichoke (“Prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside,” Syme says). While it is one of several ancient monikers for the wild artichokes of the Levant and the thistle family’s Greek catch-all (Cynarae), Cinara is actually a place, an almost mythic island in the Aegean Sea (now known as Zinara). It was said to be home to some especially alluring Sirens, as well as a mysterious place of banishment. It was where the emperor Tiberius once sent a cheeky Greek named Zeno who dared to employ some flowery language in his presence. Cinara was also the name of a particularly greedy but irresistibly sexy ex-lover of the Roman lyric poet Horace (“the grief I knew in my cups when the delicious Cinara left me” – the poor dear)…Alas, Syme, as far as I know, is not a poet (lyric or otherwise) and, thank goodness, has not been banished from Yaletown. Operations at La Pentola will continue as normal.”

Cinara will be open for breakfast 7 days a week from 7am to 10am and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm until 10pm. Click through the photos below to get a feel for the room and to take a look at a draft of their dinner menu (subject to change, natch)…

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