DINER: Celebrated Chef Stu Irving Turning “No.5 Orange” Menu Into Big Sausage Fest

by Andrew Morrison | Out of the many thousands of headlines we’ve published over the years, I’ve got to say that the one above is my all time favourite. But is it true? Yes it is! On Monday, March 4th, legendary peeler bar No. 5 Orange at Main & Powell will see a serious sausage upgrade to its menu implemented by none other than chef/legend Stu Irving, the very same fellow who once upon a time ruled the kitchens at Bin 941, Wild Rice, Cobre, and The Diamond. He’s currently in the midst of building the Latin-themed Cuchillo down the block at 261 Powell (due this May).

So how exactly did the seemingly unlikely arrangement with the gentleman’s club come about? According to Irving, the No. 5 Orange is where he used to take his kitchen team for pre/post service meetings in the Cobre days. “It’s like Cheers, but with boobs.” he jokes, adding that he’s known the staff and management there for over five years. “They approached me about revamping the food program, so I said what the hell, sure.”

In addition to a specialty half pound burger, a Philly cheesesteak, and a big ass meatball sandwich, Irving has created eight different hot dogs; everything from Beerwurst Reubens and Nacho dogs to Japa-style (with nori and ponzu mayo) and Clubhouse turkey dogs. They’re all made at Woodlands Smokehouse on Commercial Drive (all except “The Cooper”, a veggie dog made with meatless southwest chili). Take a look at the menu drafts after the jump… Read more

DINER: Two Industry Veterans Set To Open “Cuchillo” Eatery On The DTES This Spring

by Andrew Morrison | Restaurant wonks and food lovers will be happy to learn that the main floor of the old building at 261 Powell St. (next to Bean Around The World and Big Lou’s Butcher Shop) has been picked up by a pair of industry veterans who are aiming to turn the raw shell of the place into a 93 seat restaurant by the end of Spring 2013.

Those same folks will remember chef Stu Irving (above right) from his days at Cobre, Wild Rice, Bin 941 and, most recently, The Diamond, but they’ll have to go way back to recall his business partner, John Cooper (left above). Cooper used to work with Irving at Raintree in its 1990s Gastown heyday, back when the now long defunct restaurant was nurturing the early careers of Michael Dinn (JoieFarm), Tyson Reimer (Peckinpah), Andy Crimp (ex-Chambar), Karen Barnaby (Fish House), and many more (it shuttered in 2002). He only just returned to the front of house this year.

Their new project is called Cuchillo (Spanish for “Knife”). The food concept sounds like a slightly more health-conscious evolution of Irving’s work at Cobre, which closed last year after its lease came to an end (it is now another location of Rodney’s Oyster House). From what I understand, the plates will be modern interpretations and presentations of dishes that would be recognized by the peoples and cuisines of Latin America, so if I were to give it a name, I’d call it Modern Pan-Latin. Though there will be plenty of meat on the menu, expect to see some vegan/vegetarian stuff on it as well, albeit without any lifestyle harpery (Cooper is a vegetarian, but he’s not the least bit evangelical about it).

I don’t have an exact date for the building’s beginnings, but it’s in Japantown (DTES) and looks like it has 1890-1910 bones; lots of thick wooden beams and – get this – grey brick, not red. There are several SRO apartments on the three upper floors, the side windows of which can be seen up through the cool-looking, angled skylights casting natural light on one side of the soon-to-be dining room (these look like transparent buttresses). The whole was recently redone from top to bottom and given a seismic treatment, so there’s a naked corset of reinforcing steel wrapping around the room’s waist. From the schematics (see below), you can see a lounge area that includes an 18 seat bar facing a 30 seat communal table leading to a dining room proper opposite Irving’s open kitchen (the design is being done by Mary Lou Rudakewich from M Studios). The whole thing is long and thin with very high ceilings; rather reminiscent of Wildebeest. According to Irving and Cooper, there hasn’t been a business in the space for roughly 30 years (they don’t know much about it except that it was a Japanese bath-house at one point).

It’s just a few blocks from my house, so I’m very interested to see how they do here. It’s a big room on a stretch of the Downtown Eastside that hasn’t seen an interesting restaurant in some time (the food program at the No. 5 Orange notwithsanding), so it will have its challenges. And despite Irving’s long history of cooking interesting things in the neighbourhood and how Cooper’s Mom was once upon a time Miss Gastown in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (she used to own Maggie’s Boiler Room on Powell in the 1970′s), the pair will almost certainly be labelled “gentrifiers” by the many NIMBYs who claim to represent the DTES. When I remind Irving of this, he bridles. “I grew up white trash and clawed for everything I have. How could people possibly make that argument?” When I tell him that people will still make the argument regardless of his upbringing, his intentions, or his history of toil in the community, he just shrugs his shoulders and says, “I cook honest comfort food, nothing fancy.”

Fat Dragon, as we just saw, couldn’t make it past nine months in these parts. Will Cuchillo fare differently? That remains to be seen, but for the sake of my appetite I certainly hope so. There are stark differences that work in Cuchillo’s favour, chief among these being that it’s on the 200 block of Powell, and not the 500 block. And there might as well be a chasm between the two addresses. Fat Dragon was pretty well isolated where it was, and Cuchillo is much more accessible; closer to Main, closer to Gore, closer to the hordes of Gastown, and on the immediate doorstep of Railtown’s countless small business offices. I reckon it has a significant leg up on account of its location. But we’ll see. They don’t even have their building permit yet, and opening day is a long time away. In the meantime, take a look…

ALL ANTICIPATED OPENINGS

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Andrew Morrison lives and works in Vancouver as editor-in-chief of Scout and National Referee & Judge at the Gold Medal Plates and Canadian Culinary Championships. He also contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and television shows on local food, culture and travel; collects inexpensive things; and enjoys rare birds, skateboards, cocktails, shoes, good pastas, many songs, and the smell of camp fires.

DINER: Chef Stu Irving Brings New Mexican Food Concept To The Diamond In Gastown

by Andrew Morrison | Yesterday I was surprised to discover that on the immediate heels of a full kitchen upgrade at The Diamond has come a complete change in the Gastown restaurant’s food concept. Gone are the gyozas and the rest of the Asian-influenced dishes. They’ve all been replaced by incoming chef Stu Irving’s ceviches, soft tacos, and tapas plates. Irving, you might remember, was chef/co-owner at the Latin-themed Cobre just a few doors to the east (closed this Spring), so the new milieu is right in his wheelhouse. Last night was their first service with the new dance card, and word around the neighbourhood is that they killed it. Take a look at the new, tasty-looking menu in full after the jump… Read more

Woodland Smokehouse & Commissary

Details

485 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC
Telephone: 604-681-0660
Email: sales@woodlandsmokehouse.com
Web: www.woodlandsmokehouse.com | Twitter | Facebook

Gallery

The People

Owners: Tyson Reimer & Ryan Murfitt (above)
Chef: Anatoli Belov

About Woodland Smokehouse and Commissary

Designed and conceptualized by restaurateurs’ Tyson Reimer & Ryan Murfitt [Cobre, Peckinpah], Woodland Smokehouse & Commissary is the proverbial, food factory and market. Nestled on the corner of Commercial Drive and Hastings Avenue, (Just off of Woodland Avenue), the 6500 square foot complex provides every necessity needed to produce, package, sell and ship fine food to virtually anywhere in the lower mainland.
Providing both the studio and gallery space, Woodland S&C has a seemingly endless canvas for any culinary artist to reach their full their full potential. Chefs & Restaurateurs have access to a retail storefront, which is branded and designed to take restaurant quality meals, back into the home. An entirely new concept for the Vancouver culinary community, Woodland S&C focuses on the professional chefs & food artisans providing meal solutions. Set to launch in early February Woodland S&C is destined to brand its logo on the Hastings-Sunrise community. Come in for a tour anytime, we are always interested in what others can, bring to the table.

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Because Paying A $20 Cover To Drink Beer In A Tent Is Retarded

Gastown-House-Flyer-outline

The biggest draw of Gastown right now seems to be the temporary German beerhall set up in the parking lot next to Steamworks. It’s not even in Gastown proper, but rather at its gates, sucking a lot of the daytime Olympic traffic from the neighbourhood. I went by yesterday and marveled at all the folks lined up when over a dozen kickass watering holes were within reach down the street. I hear zee Germans actually sold more beer in the first 9 days of the Games than they did at Turin altogether. Word is they actually ran out and had to charter a flight full of Thuringian suds to meet the ridiculous demand.

To help the local establishments out, Richard Gallagher, partner and creative director of Gastown’s Engine Digital, put this cool two-sided flyer together. Feel free to tweet, copy, paste, Facebook and forward it to all your contacts. All of those included - The Alibi Room, Cobre, The Diamond, Shebeen, Irish Heather, Boneta, Chill Winston, Six Acres, Salt, Jules, Revel Room, Black Frog, Pourhouse, Greedy Pig – are just a wedge to a 3-wood off the typical tourist track. Check ‘em out, not least because paying a $20 cover to line the pockets of people who aren’t invested in the city is sort of dumb. “No Tents. No Line-Ups. Actual Bars”. Dig it.

Gastown Blues & Chili Festival Shuts Abbott St. To Fill Bellies

September 21, 2009 

IMG_6326

Melissa, Tyson, and Ryan from Gastown's Deacon's Corner accept their award for the day's best chili

Yesterday’s inaugural Gastown Blues & Chili Festival made for a filling and fascinating time. My job was to arrive in front of Revel on Abbott St. by 12:45pm to join my fellow judges, and then spend the next two hours tasting and ranking 16 different chilis from neighbourhood restaurants (The Alibi Room, The Irish Heather, Boneta, The Diamond, Wild Rice, Cobre, Chill Winston, Deacon’s Corner and more). Read more

First Look At Gastown’s New Deacon’s Corner

Deacon’s Corner, the new diner project from the folks who brought us Gastown’s Cobre, has now opened at 101 Alexander, just exactly one block east of Incendio. I took my youngest son down for some Mac & Cheese today and took a few snaps. It’s comfortably no frills, and though there’s still a little bit of work to be done it’s easy to imagine them doing well. We went early and it was dead (they’d just opened), but then it filled up remarkably fast with walk-ins.

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If you’re curious as to how Deacon’s Corner developed over time, I’ve dug up some “opening soon” pics below for your perusal and comparison:

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And here’s what we wrote when we first got wind of it back in November:

Located at 101 Main at Alexander across the street from the Alibi Room and just two blocks east of a resurgent Gastown’s gritty glitz, the joint will sling the stuff of diner legend: corned beef hash; biscuits and gravy; meatloaf; and I assume a variety of other wholesome bits of chow. It’s food we might be needing to get used if things get bad. Really, if the markets totally implode (and I mean more than they already have and Vancouver is plunged into a recession worse than the early 80’s), this stuff will be like cake. If the markets stabilise and everything is cool, Barack Obama might turn out to be faulty charm robot from the future and we may also be plunged into a war with China after Pakistan and India trade frisky nukes in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. Either way, I’m looking forward to the corned beef hash, and no matter what the next six months bring, the nearby cop shop will likely provide them with lots of trade. Always wise to saddle up to a customer base that won’t be seeing massive layoffs any time soon. Good security, too.

Deacon’s Corner was the name of an old gas station near owner Tyson Reimer’s childhood hood outside Winnipeg. “We aren’t doing anything modern,” he told me by phone tonight. “No wraps. No breakfast burritos. We want to stay true to the classic diner.”

Take a look at the menus – Breakfast and Lunch. Breakfast all day! Word.

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Andrew Morrison is a west coast boy who studied history and classics at the Universities of Cape Town and Toronto after an adolescence spent riding skateboards and working in restaurants. He is the editor of Scout Magazine, the weekly food and restaurant columnist for the Westender newspaper, and a contributor to Vancouver and Western Living magazines.

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First Look At Deacon’s Corner

With the economy teetering on the total tank, opening a 30′s style, 75-seat lunch counter diner ain’t such a bad idea. Say hello to Deacon’s Corner, an under construction, 7am to 3pm, cheap and cheerful greasy spoon from the folks who gave us Powell St.’s Cobre. Opening day is slated for a little over a week away.

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Located at 101 Main at Alexander across the street from the Alibi Room and just two blocks east of a resurgent Gastown’s gritty glitz, the joint will sling the stuff of diner legend: corned beef hash; biscuits and gravy; meatloaf; and I assume a variety of other wholesome bits of chow. It’s food we might be needing to get used if things get bad. Really, if the markets totally implode (and I mean more than they already have and Vancouver is plunged into a recession worse than the early 80′s), this stuff will be like cake. If the markets stabilise and everything is cool, Barack Obama might turn out to be faulty charm robot from the future and we may also be plunged into a war with China after Pakistan and India trade frisky nukes in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. Either way, I’m looking forward to the corned beef hash, and no matter what the next six months bring, the nearby cop shop will likely provide them with lots of trade. Always wise to saddle up to a customer base that won’t be seeing massive layoffs any time soon. Good security, too.

Deacon’s Corner was the name of an old gas station near owner Tyson Reimer’s childhood hood outside Winnipeg. “We aren’t doing anything modern,” he told me by phone tonight. “No wraps. No breakfast burritos. We want to stay true to the classic diner.”