Nomad, a new 75-ish seat restaurant at 3950 Main Street (across from The Acorn), is set to “officially” open this Saturday after successfully navigating over a week of soft openings for friends, family, and curious walk-ins.
In actual fact, it’s open right now. You can waltz right in and get served seven days a week from 3pm to midnight. They’re just not firing on all cylinders yet. They don’t even have a website at the moment, though you can follow along on Facebook and Instagram.
The brand new, open-concept eatery is owned and operated by its two chefs, Scott Swanson and Ryan Reed, as well as its two front of house managers, Matthew van Dinther and Taylor Burnham. I recognised Swanson from when he was an apprentice at chef Mark Filatow’s Waterfront Wines in Kelowna. Reed was Filatow’s sous chef on opening day, and has toiled in Victoria hotels since leaving the Okanagan in 2010 (you might remember him from his Chopped Canada victory back in January). Burnham is also a Kelowna guy, but he’s been in Vancouver for several years now, having managed at Burgoo and earned his BComm from the Sauder School of Business at UBC. Regulars at either The Diamond or Wildebeest should recall Van Dinther, a capable bartender who has a couple of years at London’s Savoy under his belt. For each of them, Nomad marks their first shot at ownership.
The space they’ve leased is brand-spanking new – a modern concrete-and-glass job with a lovely loft kitchen with chef’s tables overlooking the smartly spartan dining room and bar below. Its soaring glass frontage and large skylights combine for an almost silly amount of natural light (really more than any restaurant could possibly hope for), but its hard, flat surfaces and muted colour palette saps and contains enough of it so that the whole place smoulders with a steady, attractive glow (this effect will be especially pronounced in summer, when the light lasts considerably longer). If the bones look familiar, it’s likely because the landlord/owner is that same fellow who built the nearby Copper Tank space (now Portland Craft). Nomad’s is a more attractive interior, however. Truly, if a large bath was fitted near the bar, I’d consider moving in.
I know next to nothing of the food as I’ve only given their limited pre-opening menu the most cursory of glances. I won’t be eating any of it until they’re out of their “soft” phase and they start plating in full. Still, mushroom arancini with bacon sabayon and parmesan-dusted frites dipped in marrow aioli suggests the kitchen is into dressed up/priced up comfort food, and that’s fine by me just so long as it’s good. I imagine it will be, of course. Any disciple of Mark Filatow’s has got to be worth a bite. In the meantime, take a look…