Sherwood Cafe & Bar Takes Shape in Victoria

There’s been plenty of progress at Victoria’s upcoming Sherwood Cafe & Bar since we announced its construction back in January. Located at 710 Pandora Avenue (at Douglas St. across from City Hall), the new European-inspired eatery is set to be completed by the end of July.

Here’s a refresher on the concept:

It’s one of the busier core intersections of the city, which is to say the new construction – filled with offices and lots of people who eat and drink – will no doubt make an impression on the busy junction, both in the day and at night. “Sherwood is a really natural evolution of what we’ve learned by serving the city over the years,” Shane told me, referring to the many thousands of shots pulled at Habit over the years. “The prime location and growth in Victoria gave us an opportunity to build on that tradition with our own interpretation of the classic European ‘cafe/bar’.”

To that end, Sherwood – open from morning to midnight – should strike something of a Melbourne-meets-Copenhagen pose with some built-in, Swiss Army knife-like functionality. Across its 2,300 sqft, it will pull duty as a full-service restaurant; a properly staffed bar equipped with cocktails, beer and wine; a coffee house comparable in speed and competence to Habit; and a meeting place/hangout. It will plate brunch and pour quick service coffee in the day and serve to dinners and drinks at night.

There is room enough for 55 people to sit comfortably, with the quick service area sitting another 10 people – lounge-style – in the evenings. There will also be a 14 seat patio — a bonus for a city that’s long been starved of good ones. “The end goal” Shane explains, “is for it to be as much of an institution (as Habit) with even more of a hospitality-forward approach and the elevated day-to-night cafe service I experienced living in Australia.”

Owner Shane Devereaux (also of Habit Coffee) had earlier hoped to have Sherwood ready for June, but as is so often the case with new buildings like this, there have been delays beyond his control.

Below are some recent images of the place, which appears to be taking shape nicely (digging all those windows!):

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The delay hasn’t stopped him from hiring Sherwood’s opening crew, however. He introduced them to me in a recent email that also laid out the project’s progress to date:

The first tenants at 1515 Douglas have settled in and the warmer temperatures mean patios are currency again. While the exterior landscape takes shape around us, our (Sherwood’s) crew is turning their focus inward towards a painstakingly detailed execution of the downtown core’s first seamlessly functional, day-to-night, institution.

The hospitality forward approach driving service throughout our three-fold space – from the cafe and bar to the takeaway counter – is being realized by a worldly management team steeped in first hand experience of the European counterpart. Front of house manager, Barry Parsons hails from Dublin. Coffee bar manager and Victoria transplant Jess McKeen was recruited for her tutelage in the especially progressive Australian cafe scene. Led by seasoned bar manager, Jane Culprit, Sherwood’s youthful reinterpretation of the cafe/bar model will boast a lighter, brighter take on cocktails and a freshly curated roster of wines and beers culled from smaller brewers, cider makers and vintners with compelling stories and shared regional perspectives.

The guiding philosophy behind the food and beverage program has been locked in since day one. But the expected construction delays have blessed us with an opportunity to take our time with small refinements. In keeping with our principal inspiration, the drinks menu is being dialed to accommodate a growing appreciation for the session cocktails and low-proof drinks at the heart of the cafe-bar model. Our fundamental aspiration remains building a recklessly optimistic, Victoria fixture. A genuine reflection of an unabashedly wholesome young city where a relaxed and ranging day-drink session commands equal hospitality to evening service at the bar.

This commitment to playfulness and accessibility is paramount in our food menu. The economics of chef Matt Chamberlain’s approach to cooking have produced a tightly edited slate of food composed of distinctive house made components and thoughtfully selected ingredients from our diverse terrior. Every dish is designed to excite the palette and invigorate appetites with flavour changes and clever use of spice, sharp acidity and crisp texture. All will be presented with utmost simplicity on a one page menu that rightfully reads easy and encouraging.

As anticipation for the opening grows, we’re exploring ways to subvert the typical exclusivity of the first rounds of service. Plans are underway with our friends at the progressive local delivery service, Accio, to launch a small selection of Sherwood inspired dishes available for an initial democratic preview to anyone using the service. We’re grateful for the unending loyalty of the downtown core and we hope this lets everyone know we’re as excited to start feeding them as they are.

As for chef Matt Chamberlain’s food and Jane Culprit’s drinks, we’ve got some images from a recent staff tasting that should whet your appetite…

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We hope to share more on Sherwood as its opening approaches.


ALL IMAGES BY GUY FERGUSON

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