What happens to people when they leave Vancouver? Do they wander and wane, wither and perish? Not typically. We don’t want to cause a stampede out of this city few can afford, but it turns out that many who leave it do just fine elsewhere. This series will revisit some who have jumped ship for supposedly greener pastures, not only to register our displeasure at their departure but also to plead for their return.
by Shaun Layton | We begin with one of my former L’Abattoir co-workers and my predecessor at Scout, charming Brit and Jude Law doppelgänger David Greig. I met him on a boozy, week-long bartender’s trip to Kentucky back in 2009. A year later he came to Vancouver to join the crew of international bartenders working the wood at the now closed George in Yaletown. Soon thereafter, he came with me to open the bar at L’Abattoir, and was instrumental in ushering in a golden age for cocktails in the neighbourhood. It still smarts to recall the day in 2012 that David told me he was leaving for Toronto (and The Black Hoof). It might be cliche to say our bar scene hasn’t been the same since (because life in bars always goes on), but those were some grand times…
We call your departure from Vancouver “The Grexit” now. Is England now worse off than we were? Hahaha! I have a feeling I’ve done a lot better since leaving Van than the UK will leaving the EU.
What do you miss about Vancouver the most? That tight-knit sense of community that comes with a relatively small city. I couldn’t leave my house without seeing 3 or 4 people I knew. That and the whole nature thing you guys have going on over there.
What don’t you miss the most? Canuck Fever (And yes, I am aware I was well afflicted in 2011 before any smart ass points it out).
What you have learned behind the bar in Toronto? That Toronto loves drinking.
How much do you miss chef Jesse Grasso? THIS much!
How are the liquor laws over there? Better than in Montreal.
Can you name three things that you love about your new city? Sense of ambition; Porter Airlines (seriously, I was at home one morning, then 2.5 hours later I was drinking wine in the Lower East Side in NY); and the words ‘Food Primary License’ are not a thing over here.
Can you name three things that you hate about your new city? I’ve yet to embrace the winter as I’ve been told I’m supposed to, because it’s bloody awful; we have a restaurant called America that sits atop Trump Tower (that should tell you all you need to know about a certain part of town); and living in constant fear of getting doored by a car when biking because of a chronic lack of bike lanes.
Favourite neighbourhood in Toronto? Dundas West! Particularly the little spot between Grace and Bellwoods that is affectionately known as Hoofland (where I work).
Two Vancouver restaurants you would transport to Toronto in a heartbeat? Toshi’s (headline: Ex-Van Resident Laments Lack Of Reasonably Priced Quality Sushi In New City Shock) and Kissa Tanto, because how else will I eat there?
Two restaurants Vancouver needs from Toronto? 1. The Black Hoof. The lo-fi casual environment and real sense of fun that permeates the food, menus and service would still make a great addition to the scene, even after all these years. 2. Unlovable. It’s not a restaurant, but an underground bar dedicated to good music and drinking. It’s one of the things Toronto does so well.
Blue Jays or Leafs? Oh, Jays all day.
“H” or Evelyn Chick? That’s some Sophie’s Choice shit right there. I want them both or I immolate myself in a ball of Blue Blazer flames.
Typical day off? Bike around a bit, pick up some beer from Bellwoods and chill in the park. Cool down in one of the public outdoor pools, find a patio and crush some cider, maybe a play or a movie, then some dinner and wine. Man, that is a lame, generic answer. Whatever.
Where do you go after work, and what you are drinking? Archive, or maybe 416 Snack Bar. A glass of Morgon at the former and some Cote D’Albret cider at the latter.
Who would you trade in a blockbuster deal to bolster your team (interesting items welcome)? I’d trade both kidneys and an eyeball to have Romano Castillo in my life again. That guy is a ball of sunshine.
And finally, why the hell did you abandon us? Because you wouldn’t let me use the new Campari bottle design at L’Abattoir. It was a real deal-breaker.