by Michelle Sproule | East Van Roasters (EVR) took possession of the old, 1200 sqft Cartems Donuterie space at the foot of the Pennsylvania Hotel (412 Carrall St. at Hastings) in April of last year.
If you’re unfamiliar with EVR, it’s the Portland Hotel Society’s sweetest endeavour. The original location on the Rainier block of the DTES (neighbouring Nelson The Seagull) has been a delicious fixture for several years now, churning out organic, fair trade coffee and chocolate. Though everything they do is wonderful, the mission of EVR is to provide meaningful employment and training to women living in the Rainier Hotel. It is a non-profit initiative — 100% social enterprise.
But back to the new spot across the kitty corner…later on the same day that EVR took possession there was a nasty fire in the hotel and water damage (sustained from putting the fire out) meant that they didn’t have access to the space until August. So it’s latest iteration has been a long time coming.
Once the all clear was given, they upgraded the bakery and commissary kitchen and moved their chocolate-making laboratory into it. This allowed over a dozen EVR employees to learn baking skills in advance of the Christmas and Valentine rushes, which in turn delayed opening to the public until now.
Though scones, brownies, cookies and bars available, the new location – which opened Monday – is all about toast. EVR now produces a selection of soda breads (from old school traditional to delicately spiced with an almond flour base). These breads are available by the slice, with honey, butter or jam. There are also daily specials – one savoury, one sweet. I tried the savoury buttermilk Irish soda with whipped cottage cheese, roasted beets, toasted walnuts and sunflower sprouts ($6) and the sweet pain d’ espice soda bread with apples, sunflower butter, honey, roasted apples candied sunflower seeds ($6). Both were fantastic, as you can likely well imagine from the photographs below.
They’re also serving East Van Roasters coffee, as well as tea, but note that there are no seats; counter-service only (toast enthusiasts are free to take their slices over to the original location at 319 Carrall). Hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 2:30pm.