Superb Sightlines From Table #41 At West Hastings’ Wildebeest

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A long time ago we posted a reader’s poll listing what we considered to be the top five restaurant tables in Vancouver. We received so much in the way of reader feedback – both positive and negative that we’ve decided to shine a brighter light on the subject, one excellent table at a time. You’ll find more great tables here.

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by Andrew Morrison | I remember Wildebeest when there wasn’t anything in it. This was five years ago, back when I toured the raw space with owners James Iranzad and Josh Pape. Its depth narrowed its width (I likened it to a football field at the time), which demanded a galley layout of sorts, with the preponderance of seats being raised to bar height along a straight banquette opposite the kitchen and bar.

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The dining area opens up in the back, of course, but it’s really all about the brick wall-backed banquette. There are advantages and limitations to this arrangement, and the latter aren’t necessarily to the detriment of the overall effect. For starters, one long line of tables means that diners have little clue as to what is happening at any of the tables to their the right or left of their immediate neighbours. So if people watching is your bag, you’re in a bit of a pinch in this situation. On the flip-side, it does return your focus back to your own meal, not to mention your table-mates. In a restaurant of any quality, this is never a bad thing.

There are two stand-outs along the wall, table #54 and 41. Table #54 is a four-top located at the room’s midriff. From seat 1 & 2 (on the banquette) diners have a direct view into the kitchen, which might prove thrilling for first timers as you’ll be guaranteed the thrill of action-proximity and the passing of both visual and aromatic food porn. It is, I’m told, the most popular table in the restaurant. These next two shots will give you an idea as to why…

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For me, however, it’s Table #41 all the way. Let me explain: from its vantage point at the very front of the restaurant, from #41 you can not only see everyone who enters and leaves the room, but the bar is also directly across from you, which is its own world in the same way that the kitchen is, only it’s fronted by other customers (which means you’ll get your people-watching fix). #41 is also an end table, which cuts the number of immediate table-neighbours in half. One can lean back in the corner and survey the room (north of the midriff at least); even spy on those who descend the stairs to the private dining room below. It might be a long way to the restrooms, but this isn’t an airplane — you’ll get there, and you’ll get to look into the open kitchen on your way. Just be sure to tip your hat to #54 as you pass by.

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Wildebeest | 120 West Hastings St. | Gastown | 604-687-6880 | www.wildebeest.ca

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