A Look Back at the Launch of Gastown’s Wildebeest, Five Years Ago Today


Wildebeest opened five years ago today. The Gastown restaurant – an industry favourite since the day it launched (as evidenced by its perennial inclusion on the Scout 25) – was a long time coming for owners James Iranzad and Josh Pape. This was the their first restaurant together. They took possession of the raw space in the Autumn of 2011 and launched it 10 months later.

I remember opening night clearly (aided in part by the gallery below). The menu was a meaty one for David Gunawan, who has long since moved on to open the award-winning Farmer’s Apprentice and Grapes & Soda. (The chef at Wildebeest is now the very talented Alessandro Vianello.) Mmm, those smoked Castelvetrano olives and pork croquettes! Deliciousness abounded…

  • Frontage | Wildebeest
  • The bar | Wildebeest
  • The bar | Wildebeest
  • East Side Smash | Wildebeest
  • Front stand up | Wildebeest
  • 6 pack for the kitchen | Wildebeest
  • Bardstown Breakfast - bacon-infused bourbon, aromatic bitters, maple syrup, mezcal | Wildebeest
  • Hostess stand | Wildebeest
  • Smoked castelvetrano olives | Wildebeest
  • Bar detail | Wildebeest
  • Breads with pork, yogurt, and chicken butters | Wildebeest
  • Dining room facing open kitchen | Wildebeest
  • Pork croquettes with housemade ketchup | Wildebeest
  • From rear | Wildebeest
  • Heirloom radishes, yogurt, beet sorbet, malt crunch | Wildebeest
  • Rear | Wildebeest
  • Menu | Wildebeest
  • Honey cured steelhead with beets, sorrel, dill
  • Scarfing cotechino | Wildebeest
  • Wildebeest
  • Strawberries and meringue | Wildebeest
  • Front stand up | Wildebeest
  • Duo of chicken | Wildebeest
  • Waist | Wildebeest
  • Duo of chicken | Wildebeest
  • Wildebeest
  • Cotechino with flageolet cassoulet | Wildebeest
  • Bar | Wildebeest
  • Opening day at Wildebeest
  • Kholrabi spring roll, oyster emulsion, wild herbs | Wildebeest
  • Opening day at Wildebeest on West Hastings
  • Roasted bone marrow, potato and parsley salad, grilled bread | Wildebeest
  • Matches | Wildebeest
  • Hemingway daiquiri  | Wildebeest
  • 48hr cooked Angus short rib, smoked salt, hay-infused jus | Wildebeest
  • Wildebeest
  • Bar | Wildebeest
  • Wildebeest
  • Bar | Wildebeest
  • Bar | Wildebeest
  • Bar | Wildebeest
  • Wildebeest

For their part, Iranzad and Pape have also expanded their horizons, opening Bufala in Kerrisdale and Supermarine in Kits (which has since become Lucky Taco). They are working currently working on another restaurant with new partner Nick Miller. It’s called Bells & Whistles, which is on track to open next month in the Fraserhood. To give you an even deeper look at Wildebeest’s beginnings, I’ve included the following photos, which show Iranzad and Pape soon after they got the keys to the place.

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  • IMG_0312
  • IMG_0300
  • IMG_0296
  • IMG_0293
  • IMG_0299
  • IMG_0311
  • IMG_0309
  • IMG_0301
  • IMG_0308
  • IMG_0291
  • IMG_0287
  • IMG_0345

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