Looking Back at the Launch of Gastown’s PiDGiN, Five Years Ago This Week

Inside PiDGiN, hours before the first customer was served | Photo: Scout Magazine

It was five years ago this week that restaurateur Brandon Grossutti opened PiDGiN at 350 Carrall Street. Then cheffed by Makoto Ono (now co-owner/chef of the award-winning Mak N Ming) with support from Daniel McGee (now the executive chef at Au Comptoir), the French-Asian restaurant went through a lot in its early days, chief among their trials being loud, almost nightly demonstrations by anti-gentrification protestors who kept it up for five months before the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council called it off.

The first service well underway | Photo: Scout Magazine

Local socio-political phenomena aside, what of the restaurant? Was it any good? Indeed it was, or at least I certainly thought so. Ono – the first ever Canadian Culinary Champion – and his team put out a what I remembered to be an excellent opening menu. What’s more, the bar was very capable and running a surprisingly diverse program. The restaurant was mostly well reviewed, even landing on enRoute Magazine’s Best New Restaurants in Canada list. It has also – on occasion – been voted to the Scout 25, so it undoubtedly has gained the respect of its peers.

It also looked good. Still does. And I wonder if it wasn’t far-reaching in its aesthetic implications for Vancouver’s restaurant scene. As you might recall, PiDGiN was one of the first big restaurant projects by Craig Stanghetta and his team at Ste. Marie Art + Design, which has since put out such gorgeous rooms as Mosquito, Kissa Tanto, Savio Volpe and St. Lawrence. I love the attention to detail in this space, not to mention many of the details themselves (several of these were by local artist/designer Ricky Alvarez). I also appreciate how Grossutti has kept up his yen for the different by bringing in works by Priscilla Yu and Katio So, not to mention having the side of the building brightened with a fantastic mural by Ilya Viryachev.

  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN | Beef Tataki
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN | Chicken wings
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN | Barman Robyn Gray
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN | Shochu on tap
  • PiDGiN | Joie Noble Blend on tap
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN | Squid, pork
  • PiDGiN | Shochu service
  • HONOURABLE MENTIONS
  • PiDGiN | Good negronis
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN | Chef's Table
  • PiDGiN | Nuts
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN
  • PiDGiN | Makoto Ono
  • PiDGiN

But I digress from this post’s #TBT beginnings. Check out the video above. It’s a time-lapse of the restaurant during its construction. The image gallery here shows the restaurant’s very first service from just before the doors opened to the dinner rush getting under way. I remember it well.

If you haven’t been in to PiDGiN in a while, they’ve got a good thing going with former Wildebeest chef Wesley Young at the helm and GM Alain Canuel (formerly Tableau, Araxi) running the floor. I think its one of Vancouver’s more emblematic eateries, and look forward to another five years. Oh, and when you go, cross your fingers for Table 70.

Pidgin
At PiDGiN, we see no need for distinctions between casual and fine dining. A restaurant can be both beautiful and comfortable; cuisine can be at once delicate and approachable. As dining perspectives have changed, so too has the line between east and west. Visit SCOUT profile.
Neighbourhood: Gastown
350 Carrall St. | 604-620-9400 | WEBSITE

Recent Stories:

Searching for Vancouver’s Best Food and Drink with Chef Daniel McGee
PiDGiN x ART Series Continues With New Dish Inspired by Sean Karemaker’s Artwork

There are 0 comments

Nine Years Ago This Week, Taking the First Look Inside ‘Latitude’ (Later El Camino’s)

Long before El Camino's packed them in at 3250 Main Street, the address was home to this slick Pan-American wine bar.

Six Years Ago Today, When Minami Was Getting Its Masterful Hideki Kimura Paintjob

There were several walls being painted simultaneously. The exacting task was monumental, and it was a cool thing to witness.

That Delicious Chinese Pancake Pop-Up in Mt. Pleasant That Never Should Have Ended

Fei Bing Express was one night only restaurant concept from Alex Dadzis and Ken Tsui that showed the address' nighttime potential.

Five Years Ago This Week, Inside What Would Become East Van Roasters

One of our favourite chocolate places will celebrate its fifth birthday next month. This is what it looked like before it was opening day.