Earlier this week I took a look inside the recently revamped ground floor of the old 1911 Labor Temple building at 415 Dunsmuir Street. It’s been split into three units. One is a blank canvas destined to be another JJ Bean, another is a White Spot that has already been open for several months, and between them is a 1,750 sqft raw space that will go under the knife to become Field & Social, a salad-focused, 30 seat, quick service restaurant with a modern, Scandinavian look and feel.
Showing me around were co-owner Stephen Collins and his wife Stefenie Milosz, as well as Rasoul Salehi (trio picture above). Not present were co-owners Moe Samieian and Ali Pejman. Rasoul, who you might recognise as Managing Partner at Le Vieux Pin and LaStella wineries, is Moe’s brother-in-law. He’s on board in an advisory capacity. Further background:
It was in late 2014, over a dinner in London, that Moe and his wife discussed their idea for a specialty salad shop like no other in Vancouver. They joked that it was a shame Stephen was moving down under with his Aussie wife, as Stephen’s work experience included starting up, managing and owning several restaurants. Stephen and his wife, Stef were intrigued by the idea, but it just wasn’t the right time and soon after took off for their honeymoon to South America, on route to Australia.
The first stop on Stephen and Stef’s extended backpacking honeymoon was a quick visit to NY, prior to heading to Central America. Whilst sitting in a funky Mexican restaurant in Soho – enjoying cervesas and tacos – Moe and his wife continued to speak about their idea… and if only we would consider… The following day, after a long day of sightseeing, Stephen and Stef sat for a drink – one that would change the course of their lives. Maybe there was something in the bubbles of Stef’s Prosecco, but within 30 minutes she was speaking about “what if we just moved to Vancouver – why not – I think this concept is going to be great”. So with all their belongings already shipped to Australia and visa applications in progress, they decided to turn their plans on their head and instead move to Vancouver. It is something they all feel very passionate about and Moe and Stephen, both entrepreneurial, have always wanted to collaborate together.
So with inspiration from living abroad and travelling around the world, they bring you a specialized concept of chef designed, unique salads, in a fresh and trendy environment. Eating is more than just about food and nutrition – it is an experience to be enjoyed and savored, regardless of how busy you are or where you find yourself.
The concept sounds like a winner, sort of like a breadless Meat & Bread. To wit, instead of a limited menu of consistently executed sandwiches, Field & Social will deal in carefully considered salads. While that’s nothing new, the aesthetic element should prove alluring. Stephen agrees. “Why does salad restaurants always have to be tacky? Why can’t it have style?” To that end, they’ve hired Ruth Janekelowitz of Janks Design Group (see also Earnest Ice Cream) to execute the look with tight branding by Lucy & Guy Browning of Workhouse Collective. Come opening day in early 2016, the interior will see a white marble counter, plenty of copper sinks and pendant lights, and plenty of long communal tables. The exposed concrete pillars and floors will stay unclad. To give you an idea, take a look at the mood board…
As for the menu, it will see six salads, four of them signature and two of them seasonal. I asked for an example of the latter, and they gave me one that included braised beef, squash, lentils, scallions, shredded cabbage, arugula, puffed buckwheat and wild rice with a dressing of black garlic, fermented key lime zest, and olive oil. Each salad will have one stand-out ingredient, like puffed buckwheat, a ramen egg, or some smoked chicken thigh meat. They’re also doing double dressing, with one dressing (thicker emulsified) on the bottom and a completely different dressing (lighter vinaigrette) on the top. We can also expect a pair of soups and some guilt-free treats that are vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free. No coffee, though. Only an assortment of teas, iced teas, and kombucha on tap, including a ginger and Hei Cha custom blend made with the help of O5 Tea.
Considering Vancouver’s love of green things and the fact that the restaurant’s frontage faces directly onto the Dunsmuir bike lane, it sounds a lot like a scalable home run just waiting to be hit.