BIG INTERVIEW | Elizabeth Bryan, The Force Of Nature Behind Mt. Pleasant’s ‘Dock Lunch’

March 18, 2016.

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Elizabeth Grace Bryan has a special way about her. She’s relatable, down to earth, and endearingly enthusiastic — plus there’s just something in her smile that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. From menu items to decor, her character is imprinted all over Dock Lunch, her tiny, southern-inspired, highly regarded, Mount Pleasant comfort food eatery. Say hello to…

elizabeth

What neighbourhood do you live in and what makes it home? Cedar Cottage/Fraserview — This neighbourhood still feels a little foreign to me since my first and lengthy love affair with Vancouver, Main Street. But it’s laying down roots with every bike ride through Little Mountain, Breka Bakery, fresh cumin and char sui, cemetery strolls. And all the alleys. I love the alleys. This is a great neighbourhood to share with an 11 year old and his dad.

What was the last live concert you saw? Leon Bridges.

Have you ever flirted with the idea of opening a larger restaurant?
Yes.

Your menu changes every day; where do you get your inspiration? Weather, memories: my own and those of the staff and customers; places I wish I could go.

The thing that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? Salty salty chips.

Default drink/cocktail of choice? Bourbon.

Dogs or cats? Cats.

Your all-time best Halloween costume? Wonder Woman, aged four. I was bitterly disappointed because my hair wasn’t black. Like that was the only thing standing between me and Lynda Carter.

What game did you love as a kid? We are orphans left to fend for ourselves. And I am in charge.

The strangest talent that you possess? Uncanny memory, thank God, since my hearing (listening?) skills are apparently terrible.

Oddest place you’ve ever slept? The floor at Dock Lunch.

What keeps you up at night?
Literally? When something isn’t right in my relationship.

What do you do when you can’t sleep? Smoke one amazing and awful cigarette.

Your major character flaw? Obsessiveness in all the wrong places.

Three role models? My Mum, my Nanny, Mark Twain.

Coffee or tea? Coffee.

How do you decompress? Putter putter putter.

The strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? Tomato Pies at Lorenzo’s in Trenton, New Jersey. Turns out I was just having real pizza for the first time.

What’s for breakfast at home? Coffee and a few bites of whatever glorious breakfast Will has conjured. I’m rarely hungry in the morning and it’s a damn pity.

Three books that made an impact on you in your formative years? To Kill A Mockingbird, The Once and Future King, My Sweet Charlie.

Your biggest fear? Death of a loved one followed closely by not meeting expectations. I’m working on accepting the inevitability of both those things.

What cooking skills do you find applicable to running your own business? It’s still telling a story.

Favourite article of clothing? Right now? My dad’s jeans.

The first album that made you love music? That is TOUGH. Um, it was Rio…I wish I could say it was The Hurting a year later, which would be way more cool but also way less true. There was Hysteria and True Blue the long summer before starting Grade 8. The ribbon broke on those cassettes.

A character from a movie that you’d love to share a meal with? Can I just pick Stephen Fry?

Three events you are most looking forward to this year? My sister Wendy’s wedding, BC staycation this summer, Matt Lebedoff becoming a dad.

Two historical personalities, one good and one bad, that fascinate you the most? David Bowie, Donald Trump.

Biggest surprise of the last year? David Bowie, Donald Trump.

What trend have you followed that you now regret? Mason jars.

Favourite BC winter activity/excursion? Thrifting.

Favourite BC summer activity/excursion? Road-tripping, evening bike rides, pavement hangs.

Your go to, no-frills place for dinner in Vancouver? Yu Xiang Yuan [6591 Fraser St.].

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you? New Orleans or Buenos Aires.

Favourite Vancouver landmark? Dressew.

Three places you like to take out of town visitors? T n’T, Strathcona Community Gardens to Parker St. tracks; down and around National on bikes or skates; Robert McNutt’s apartment (in the Wenonah building where Dock Lunch lives).

The cliché that you overuse? Shit or get off the pot.

Shoe of choice? Booties.

The different career path that you could have gone on? Writer.

Your ancestry? American Immigrant — Irish, Cornish, English, French. My dad’s maternal forebears came from Rollenden, England on the Swiftwell… which was neither swift nor well and begged constant rescuing by its sister ship, the Mayflower. His Irish side made the crossing over century later and settled in Culpepper County, Virginia in the 1780’s. William Jennings Bryan was my grandfather’s second cousin and remains an amusing source of pride (Cross of Gold) and shame (Inherit the Wind) among the family wags. My mum’s from Pennsylvania and her heart’s still there. The Dock Lunch colours — Colonial white with dark green trim, brick red accents to remember the barn at the bottom, are a tribute to her memories, not mine.

Where did you grow up? My friend Scott says you do your growing up as you enter adolescence, come of age. So, Victoria, BC.

Favourite dishes in Vancouver? Beignets at Lucky’s/49th Parallel; onion rings at A&W; Spicy Fish at Longs; salmon tacone at Go Fish; BBQ Mackerel sushi at Shiro; pistachio ice cream by Brown Paper Packages at Pazzo Chow; Kazu chicken udon at Harvest; Classic Brulee at Crackle Creme; dry aged prime ribeye barbecued by Will on our back porch. That’s pretty much my loop. I don’t get out much or go too far and am working to change that in 2016. My own business needs it.

Top three films from your high school days? The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club, The Great Escape.

Last piece of art you purchased? Our home was gifted a Henry Speck painting from the 1950’s by Macaulay Fine Arts. It’s a vivid glance away from where I sit to write this. It’s perfect.

What are you the most proud of? My family.

Forest or beach? My two favourites. Lucky us we don’t have choose here.

Most beautiful body of water you have ever gone swimming in?
Off Savary Island or off Croatia.

The best thing about your work? The customers are SO on board.

The worst thing about your work? Shopping and cleaning and shopping and cleaning and shopping and cleaning.

One ritual, tradition, or superstition in you observe? My Saint Jude.

If you had a motto, what would it be? Maybe is not a position.

Scariest situation you’ve ever been in? The death of a loved one too young.

Your favourite curse word? Darn or Gosh.

What object of no monetary value will you keep dearly until you die? My homemade dirndl. Because my mother thinks they’re pretty and wanted to see her offspring in them, all in a row, just like the Von-Trapps but without the yodelling or the Nazis. The most labour intensive gag-gift of all time.

On a perfect day off, what are the top three things you’d like to see happen? A house that cleans itself, a garage sale of riches across the street and friends over for dinner.

Your first memory? Having the hose turned full blast on me (and the boy next door) after a mud fight.

Three words that would describe you as a child? Bossy, bossy boots.

Your favourite local place to kick back with a beer? The Lido.

Do you have a favourite photograph? My parents getting into the cream beetle they won in a grocery store raffle on their wedding day.

The most beautiful place in the world? Christmas in Victoria.

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