by Andrew Morrison | If I had not only a guarantee that dinosaurs were genuinely tame but also solid assurances that their breeding was being strictly controlled by heavily-armed paleo-geneticists, I’d be totally OK about having them back to roam in very small numbers.
I feel the same way about steakhouses. The adoration I had for them as a wide-eyed child of limited tastes has insured a residue of affection still powerful enough to bring me back to them at least once a year. And the more traditional they are, the better. I’ll have none of this Pinky’s “Steakhouse for Girls” or Black & Blue discotheque nonsense, thank you very much. I want a 75 year old server named Frank calmly maintaining my table with an economy of words and actions. I also want to bask in the moody darkness. Not the dumb Donnelly style of darkness seemingly designed to shield our senses from seething ugliness, but rather the type on that rare ethereal plane wherein the act of dining amplifies the scant light provided by candles and the occasional wall sconce. Its faint flame is nearly doused by the dark wood panelling but it still dances off the white jackets of the staff, flickers on the linen, and makes the odd bit of brass piping shine like gold. Such a light also lingers on the serrated blades of over-sized steak knives, bathes in the bowls of big Bordeaux wine glasses that need to be washed by hand on account of their vast brittleness, and takes the creepiness out of the ancient oil portraits staring back at you from the walls. Light is a key facet of the old school steakhouse atmosphere, anchoring the experience even more than the sound-deadening carpet or the refreshing absence of hats.
There are only two exemplars of such light in Vancouver, Hy’s Encore and Gotham Steakhouse. I’ve just eaten at both on back to back evenings. I regret that I didn’t take a camera or a notebook to Gotham, preferring instead to dine like a regular human being (just this once). The steaks were first rate – blackened Chicago filets and strips with crab legs and prawns – and the service was superb, but for the purposes of this story I’m only going to relate how things went at Hy’s Encore.
Hy’s, as you know, has been on Hornby St. since the early Cretaceous. Believe it or not, the decor has actually been “updated” from the Arthur Fishman-designed original (1960′s), but it’s as I’ve always remembered it: dark, deathly quiet, and frequented by corporate Ron Swanson types and old codgers wealthy enough to afford especially sharp dental work. The room’s baronial pretension doesn’t feel the least bit Vancouver-y, and I like that. It’s an absolute escape, like something out of Jules Verne. There’s no stylish bartender holding court with plaid pomp and twirled moustache, no ubiquitous soundtrack or desperately obsequious two minute “quality check” that makes you want to throw a punch (“How are the flavours tonight?” Pow!). It’s just ordered effortlessness, the sort of pampering that has mostly gone out of this world, or at least this city.
The food, as you can well imagine, hasn’t changed that much since I was a child. The Caesar salads and Bananas Foster are still made flawlessly a la minute and tableside [6, 3]. All of the ancient standards are there, everything from $17.95 Are You Kidding Me non-spot prawn cocktails  and slightly rubbery, garlic-wombed escargot  to French Onion soup and boozy Mussels Normandy. They even offer 1,000 Island salad dressing! The steaks are still perfect, only now they are even more exorbitantly expensive. My favourite remains the “house special” Gorgonzola Filet, an 8 ouncer done medium rare (I’m a lightweight, I know) topped with a melted knob of hot, fabulously stinky cheese. I always choose the double-stuffed potato as my starch. The distance between it and say, mashed potatoes is similar to the distance between a piece of red liquorice and a whole Black Forest cake. To wit, the kitchen scoops out the innards of a baked potato and then blends the hot stuff with butter and cream before piping it back into the jacket and topping it with sour cream, bacon, and chives. The combo sets you back $44.95, but did I mention the bread! My god, the bread…
I don’t think the kitchen gives a shallot about molecular gastronomy, craft beer, or charcuterie, let alone “local” and “sustainable” sourcing. Sourcing here is a matter of the back end of trucks and clipboards, not relationships with farmers or artisan suppliers. There is no team of whistling foragers combing the woods for mushrooms, and instead of a rooftop herb garden there is a castle parapet from which, one presumes, the staff are tasked with defending the building if ever there comes a rabid horde of abusive vegans.
And please let that be fine for once or twice a year, because steakhouses are woefully endangered. Granted, not all of them need to survive. Just a few, if you please. No one gave a damn when the graveyard-like West Cordova location of Morton’s closed in 2009. Likewise the stillborn Pinky’s chainlet, which just plain sucked hard until it went away. But if Hy’s were ever to fall, there would be no small amount of weeping, for that would be the end of the dinosaurs, and there would be no resurrections.
Hy’s Encore | 637 Hornby Street | Vancouver, BC | 604683-7671 | www.hyssteakhouse.com
Hawksworth is located in Rosewood Hotel Georgia at 801 West Georgia St. | www.hawksworthrestaurant.com
Vancouver, BC | A decade spent in England – working at top restaurants such as Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and visiting pubs in his downtime – might have influenced Chef David Hawksworth’s culinary career but it was his childhood memories of a family roast dinner that have driven the newest addition to Hawksworth Restaurant’s Sunday menu, launching this weekend.
Roast dinners are a quintessentially British weekend pastime and Chef Hawksworth’s fond recollection of Sundays spent relaxing with his parents, originally from Yorkshire in the north of England, resulted in the nostalgic addition of a roast dinner to the menu.
Hawksworth Restaurant will be launching a weekly roast feature to the brunch menu, starting this Sunday (December 8th) with a juicy Kurobata rack of pork accompanied by pancetta spiced brussel sprouts, roast potato, cranberry, pork jus for $34.
With a similar climate to the UK, winters in Vancouver are the perfect time to indulge in a comforting roast – finishing off a perfect Sunday of a walk around Stanley Park or stroll along the sea wall. [ Keep reading ]
(via) Japanese designer Hiroshi Kajimoto has created a new kind of umbrella. It’s called the unbrella. The design sees the well known structure of the usual rain shield turned on its head, which is to say the folding spokes are on the top of the shield rather than on the bottom. This allows for more head room within and for the unbrella to be folded and stood up to dry with the wet inside instead of outside (no more umbrella stands). And in a fierce wind, it merely blows closed instead of completely apart. How smart is that? And how have we never seen something like this come down the engineering pipe before? (Or have we, but we’re suffering a major brain fart?) In any event, the new product won’t be available until mid-February (aka the Ides of Rainbruary), but it’s available to pre-order online right now. The cost is listed at Y9,450, which works out to just under $100 CAD.
Much & Little is located at 2541 Main Street in Vancouver, BC | 604-709-9034 | www.muchandlittle.com
Vancouver, BC | Much & Little is chock-a-block with great stock at the moment, like the six items pictured above. They are clockwise from top: locally made knitwear $45-$95 and leather mittens $120; Japanese kitchen tools – bottle openers $32.95; and copper graters $46.95; Embroidered linen tipis $45 – $62; Mason jar cocktail shaker $36 and cocktail recipe book $28.95; Locally designed, Canadian made Sleep Shirt ($195 -$210); and Pigeon Toe ceramics $39.95 to $135. Learn more after the jump… [ Keep reading ]
Dan Burns, a high school physics teacher in Northern California since 1992, explains how gravity and space-time warping work at a teaching workshop at Los Gatos High School.
Stretch a sheet of lycra over a drum shape made out of PVC and electrical conduit. Put a 2kg mass in the middle and roll marbles to show orbits. Put 2 large metal spheres on it and they will slowly attract. Put a large marble rolling with a smaller one next to it and it will orbit the larger marble mimicking the Earth-Moon system. Throw a handful of marbles going one way and a slightly larger handful going the other. They collide and fall in, leaving most of the survivors all going in the same direction, just like the formation of the solar system. Put 2, 2kg masses apart from each other and try and get a marble to do a figure 8 orbit around them both. Have a pole stick up from below creating a force of repulsion and you have Dark Energy.
Want to make your own Spacetime Simulator? Yeah you do, you beautiful nerd, you! Click here.
The Modern Bartender is located at 28 East Pender St in Vancouver, BC | 604-684-1747 | www.themodernbartender.com
After a successful pop up operation in both Edmonton and Calgary at the end of the summer, Victoria has called on “The Modern Bartender” to be on the move yet again. Shawn Soole from “Little Jumbo” has asked us to set up shop Monday December 9 starting at 4pm and we’re in!
We’ll be taking all manner of barwares and essentials such as a bevy of classic mixing vessels, japanese import bar spoons, piles of jiggers, muddlers, strainers and of course other must haves from our huge selection of books, ice trays and sphere makers, Tiki mugs, assorted syrups and more bitters than you can possibly imagine. Come visit The Modern Bartender at the Little Jumbo in Victoria at 506 Fort Street on Monday December 9 starting at 4pm. [ Keep reading ]
by Andrew Morrison | When Scout first broke the news about The Fish Counter coming to 3825 Main St. this past June, we were pretty excited. I mean, wow…a fishmongers from Rob Clark and Mike McDermid, the two founders of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program!? What could possibly be better than a sustainability-savvy and doubt-free fish store where the staff knew the fishermen? How about a fish store that not only does all of that but also dresses up the catch and cooks it for you, too.
Yup, there’s a tidy food-service component to The Fish Counter, too. You can choose your battered fish and local Kennebec chips from a list that includes salmon, halibut, ling cod, and oysters. These can be ordered to eat in or take away. Chances are you’ll want to stick around and watch for the first little while, because the guy doing the cooking at the start is none other than Ian Johansen, who is not only the brother of Cpt. Steve Johansen of the good ship Organic Ocean (co-founder of the Spot Prawn Festival), but also a capable cook at Go Fish! on False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf, which is incidentally home to Vancouver’s best fish and chips (for now).
They’ll also be serving three soups – a New England clam chowder without wheat or dairy, a vegan option, and a seafood special soup du jour. We can also expect to see Baha-style fish tacos made with ling cod and “Salmonitos” – a cylindrical, burrito-ish wrap of salmon, slaw and chipotle mayo (nice rice or beans).
On the retail side of things, they’re offering branded/prepared meals like nicoise salad (minus the tuna – you build your own at home with the tuna you buy at the shop), fish cakes. crab cakes, mac and cheese, et cetera, plus prepared seafoods like octopus salad, poached salmon, smoked salmon, candied salmon, and so on. There’s a two-level glass display case for fresh fish, plus boxes for live crabs and lobster that will go online in a few weeks.
This was a hard, long slog for Rob and Mike. The construction was a lot more than I think they both expected (they’re five months past their first “hopefully open by” date), but in the end it looks like they’ve done a fantastic job, even with the little details like the garage window frontage and the octopus carved into the bench (hats off to Wendy Taylor for the overall design of the space). They’re opening “for certain” this Saturday. Hours will probably by 10am to 10pm, but that’s not yet set in stone (“The community will let us know when they need us,” Rob says.) Break a leg, fellas! We wish you the very best of luck!
The Stable House is opening soon at 1520 W. 13th Avenue (at Granville St.) in Vancouver BC | www.thestablehouse.ca
Vancouver, BC | The Stable House Bistro in South Granville is opening this Friday evening at 5pm (service until 11pm). A reference to the turn of the century stable houses that used to dominate the neighbourhood, this intimate 40 person room is tucked away just off the main shopping strip at 1520 West 13th Avenue. The bistro offers charcuterie, cheeses, breads, salads and European-style savoury tarts – all of which can be paired with options from a great wine list and a selection of beers, cocktails, and aperitifs. The bistro will also be open for lunch in the near future, so please like our Facebook page to stay up to date.