by Andrew Morrison | It’s hard to imagine an open, 8-10 seat kitchen bar that looks straight into a massive, glass-fronted “Rotisol” rotisserie oven that can hold as many as 36 birds at a time, but that’s just what diners will get when they sit center stage in the heritage section of the soon-to-open Homer St. Cafe & Bar: an eyeful of the lamborghini of rotisseries (the Grande Flamme Olympia edition, complete with fire engine red enamel finish and brass knobs) spinning Fraser Valley chickens marinated in house brine and roasted in signature rubs that change daily (think Ras el hanout, Za’atar, and Herbes de Provence). The birds will be served whole, halved, or in quarters with drippings and typical country vegetables (pototoes, cauliflower, etc).
Ok, so maybe it’s not that difficult to imagine. Perhaps it’s just hard to wait until the end of June, when the restaurant is scheduled to open. We’ve reported on it before, back in February when the name and concept were still secrets. We had the place listed in our Opening Soon section as “Beasley”. The skinny from back then:
Led by principal Lilliana L. De Cotiis, the team behind Coal Harbour’s Tableau Bar Bistro – executive chef Marc-Andre Choquette, chef Tret Jordan, lead bartender J.S. Dupuis and manager Steven Wright – are opening a second restaurant, this time in Yaletown in the ancient Homer Cafe classic diner location (just across the street from Subeez).
When I say “ancient”, I’m talking in Vancouver years. The Homer Building at Smithe & Homer celebrates its 100th birthday in 2013, which is to say that it’s old enough for a history that stretches back beyond the Homer Cafe, with its famous pair of eggs with sausages and toast for $3.95. Prior to the humble Homer, it was the Stratos Cafe, and before that it was Rose’s Coffee Shop. Before that it was Pauline’s Cafe, and before that it was the Smithe Coffee Bar. Peel the layers back past the 1950?s and you’ll find a Japanese candy store, a cleaners, a grocery, a barber shop, and so on. It was always a community hub of some sort. You can see it in its bones.
Fast forward to the Fall of 2008, when The Homer underwent the knife. The major facelift, retrofit and rebrand was completed in the Fall of 2011 (you might remember the aged facade braced in glossy developer wrap marketing the place as “Yaletown’s last opportunity”). It’s now called The Beasley after former city planner Larry Beasley, and exists as the heritage foot forward and namesake of a brand new neighbouring 33 storey condo tower. To my knowledge, the only facet of the new development that has yet to be completed is the restaurant space, which was leased this past Fall.
The truth of it is that only half the restaurant is in the original Homer Cafe spot, with its bird Lamborghini, old bones, and pressed tin ceiling panels reclaimed from an old church in rural Ontario. The other half is in the freshly constructed Beasley (connected by a short staircase). This half will see a 40 seat lounge sporting a good looking bar with wood paneling salvaged from a 1900 butcher shop in the American Midwest. Up a few steps beyond is an elevated private room with beautiful swing out windows sourced from an old mill, circa 1910. From what I’ve been told, the bar will serve 5 craft beers on tap (plenty more in bottles), plus a wine and cocktail program on the same scale as Tableau. The design is a collaborative effort between Linus Lam, Denise Liu and Craig Stanghetta.
I’m looking forward to this one, and not just because I’m a big fan of Tableau and chefs Choquette and Jordan. I dig all the rooms that have so far been designed by Craig Stanghetta (see Pidgin, Revolver, etc) and love what Denise and Linus do for Vancouver with Artsy Dartsy. The good folks at Glasfurd & Walker (see Meat & Bread, Wildebeest, etc) are pretty well known for only ever working with sure things, and I like the location, especially how it will see a 20 seat covered/heated patio away from the madding crowd. It’s not on Yaletown’s main chain restaurant-crowded thoroughfares (Mainland & Hamilton), and with prices in the $10-$25 range, I know I’ll be getting good bang for that buck. If there is any weakness to the Homer St. Cafe & Bar, I think an argument could be made against the name, which exhibits all the imagination of a chair leg. Alas, what’s in a name when there are 36 spinning birds, slowly browning, rubbed with all manner of deliciousness and dripping, dripping, dripping…wait…what was the question again?
by Kurtis Kolt | Just sending a quick note to share that Maenam’s Chef Angus An and I are in New York City and in the home stretch of prepping for his dinner at James Beard House this evening. As a little refresher, Angus has been the consulting chef in New York at Kittichai in the Thompson Hotel for the last little while, so he’s officially wearing two hats tonight as he presents contemporary Thai dishes out of both New York and Vancouver. As the lucky guy who consults on the wine list at Maenam, I got to come along for the ride; designing tonight’s wine program and overseeing wine service!
Angus was invited to cook at James Beard House many months ago, and much of the coordination has come out of Vancouver. I got to dive into a whole new realm of liquor laws to adhere to, and track down various wines from suppliers I have no experience with. The good folks from the Okanagan’s Tantalus Winery did us a solid by doing a good ol’ fashioned border run of their kick-ass 2010 Riesling a few weeks back. I’m quite excited and proud to represent BC wine country tonight, with a little Mission Hill in the mix as well!
Angus and his team – many of whom are from Vancouver – are hustlin’ away doing prep as I type this, and they’re pretty stoked. I will indeed rock out a full report for you on our New York adventures later in the week, loaded with pictures and good cheer. In the meantime, I will be Tweeting and Instagramming (both @KurtisKolt) tonight using the hashtag #AAJBwKK.
Do follow along as we represent!
by Andrew Morrison | Main St. fixture Habit will be closing its doors for good after dinner service this Sunday, April 14th after 8 years in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. The owners – the same folks who brought us Cascade next door, El Camino’s to the south, and The Union to the North – will launch a new concept, this time Italian, before the month is out. They’ve just sent me the following note:
Habit has changed throughout those 8 years, but it’s always stood as a hub to the community and has had a strong, loyal following. We felt the time was right for a shake-up, and after much thought and deliberation over what we feel the neighbourhood needs, we decided on what will be known as “Charlie’s Little Italian”.
So, what to expect from “Charlie’s Little Italian”? A fun, lively, old school, affordable pasta joint for the neighbourhood, evoking memories of a bygone era of the type of place where you’d go with your family: red & white gingham tablecloths, oversized peppermills and tableside parmesan service, but now in a fast-paced, hip, cafe environment.
Chef Tristan Burley and his team are putting together a fantastic, value-driven menu featuring a great range of traditional pasta dishes, antipasti, salads and hand-tossed garlic breads. Don’t worry, we’ll still be doing brunch!
The bar will be relocated to the front of the restaurant, where you can expect a tight little wine list, classic Italian cocktails, sodas, beers, espressos. The team at Habit are really excited to bring this new concept to the neighbourhood that has supported us for so many years.
So, with the clock ticking on the last days of Habit, we invite you to come down and say goodbye with some great specials from the kitchen and a tiki cocktail or two. We look forward to welcoming you back in mid-April, (expected re-opening date Monday, April 22, 2013).
I always had a soft spot for the redesign after the late night fire on December 7th, 2008 destroyed the first incarnation. And my god…the brunches! Still, this sounds like a fair trade, and I’ll gladly take it.
Mmm…if this meaty Nowness film by Alison Chernick was salted and stored for two years, we’d slice it paper thin, pair it with melon (and a dry Muscat) and eat the hell out of it. It was shot at the new Chi Spacca (“The Cleaver”) in Los Angeles…
The intimate meat emporium is the latest addition to an epicurean empire that includes Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in New York and Carnevino Italian Steakhouse in Las Vegas. Having just opened its doors this February — helmed by the indefatigable Mozza restaurant trio made up of Nancy Silverton, Joseph Bastianich and Batali himself — Chi Spacca showcases the charcuterie talents of Head Chef and Batali disciple Chad Colby, whose philosophy concerning the preparation of meat chimes with his mentor’s own. Colby became so entranced by Italian salami culture that he developed the first authorized “dry cure” program in LA, a lengthy process involving the addition of salts and other ingredients that can take months or even years, but which results in an array of pungent meats made in house. “What isn’t captured in the video is the wild smells,” recalls Chernick of her experience filming. “I have been enlightened by the science of a good salami, and we can thank Mario for capturing Italian culture and bringing it to us on a platter.”
[puts coat on, grabs wallet and keys, heads over to Granville Island for salumi at Oyama]
Dig this cool short film on the life cycle of city-grown heirloom carrots from Melbourne, Australia’s Little Veggie Patch Co.. It’s a company with a rad motto: “We don’t care who you are or what you do, we want to make growing food easier for everyone.” (hat tip: Alexa Harder).
From the inbox comes good news via FeastVan, an awesome initiative from East Vancouver restaurants that Scout has been very proud to support since the start:
FeastVan organizer Joe Chaput announced today that over $2500 had been raised by a combined effort from participating restaurants as well as donations from customers and staff during the two week FeastVan campaign (January 18-Feb 03, 2013). All of the participating restaurants donated $1 from the sale of each prix fixe menu or from a specific menu item. All of the funds raised will be donated towards the Strathcona Community Center Backpack Food Program. The annual dining event was established to introduce diners to the vast array of restaurants in East Vancouver. Each year, local foodies and visitors to Vancouver are invited to enjoy a selection of specially priced three-course meals from some of East Van’s best restaurants. $1 from each meal sold is donated to the Strathcona Community Center’s Back Pack Food Program, which provides back pack meals for both the Strathcona Community Center and the Raycam Community Center.
The primary objective of the Strathcona Community Center Backpack Food Program is to bridge the weekend gaps when school food programs are not running. Regular school programs provide for the food requirements of children on weekdays, but this program provides kid-friendly nutritious snacks and meals for food insecure elementary school-aged children over the weekends. Children from both Seymour and Strathcona Elementary Schools receive food back packs every Friday afternoon.
2013 FeastVan participating restaurants included: The Acorn, Au Petit Chavignol, Bao Bei, Campagnolo Roma, The Cascade Room, East of Main, Eight ½ Restaurant Lounge, El Camino’s, Habit, Harvest Community Foods, Les amis du FROMAGE, Les Faux Bourgeois, Nicli Antica Pizza, The Parker, Pat’s Pub, R&B Brewing Co., The Union Bar, and Vicino Pasteria & Deli.
Hats off to Joe Chaput and all the chefs/restaurateurs and staffers who got involved!
Well, this is good news. Hats off to Minister Rich Coleman for continuing to move our Byzantine liquor laws into the 19th century (baby steps).
“We are elated by today’s announcement. This is a huge step forward for B.C. craft brewers, vintners, distillers, restaurateurs and publicans. We applaud the government for updating an outdated and archaic law that was impeding progress not only for us but a number of businesses in the craft beer industry. We look forward to sharing the beers which we so carefully craft at Parallel 49 with our valued customers at St. Augustine’s.” – Anthony Frustagli, co-owner, Parallel 49 and St. Augustine’s.
Toronto restaurant industry veteran Bruce McAdams recently presented his “Rethink Tipping” talk at TEDxGuelph. In it, he expertly explained why Canada’s $6 billion a year (!) restaurant tipping model is racist, sexist, ageist, unjust, and otherwise so thoroughly messed up as to be completely nonsensical.
PS. The video is 20 minutes long and worth it (and no, the Glowbal Group isn’t mentioned…not even once).
by Andrew Morrison | Sisters Stephanie and Andrea French have just opened The Pie Shoppe in Chinatown. It’s a tiny little joint featuring freshly baked pies (currently apple, chocolate pecan) and good quality coffee at 721 Gore Street. It’s a pretty cool little operation that took them just 9 days to build/open with the help of friends and family (the vinyl collection came from their father). The tasty pies are baked fresh throughout the day and the coffee comes from Stephanie’s own Panoramic Roasters (single origin, roasted on a rooftop in Kits). The Pie Shoppe opens at 11am and stays open until they run out of pie, which I imagine will be quite often because they only have a small oven to work with.
by Andrew Morrison | Travel around Canada much? A new mobile app called Eat Canada: Dining In Downtown Canada has just been released to the iTunes store, and it has you covered with the best restaurant experiences from coast to coast. Eleven major Canadian cities are included (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, St. John’s). All told, the app includes reviews/details of the 20 best establishments in every downtown area – that’s 200 in total – making it the first ever critically-generated pulse-taking of Canada’s urban food and drink landscape. Each review contains info on cuisine styles, noise levels, private rooms, price ranges, credit cards, hours, websites, alcoholic beverages, corkage and outdoor dining, while the app’s interactive elements go even further to include full mapping, directions from a user’s current location, and links to phone numbers, websites and the OpenTable reservation system. Users can even track which restaurants they’ve visited and keep notes on their favourites.
The coast to coast critics were Karl Wells (St John’s), restaurant critic for The Telegram, an accredited chef and host of the Rogers TV show, One Chef One Critic; Bill Spurr (Halifax), features writer and restaurant critic for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald; Robert Beauchemin (Montreal), restaurant critic for La Presse and college instructor on culture and food; Anne DesBrisay (Ottawa), restaurant critic for the Ottawa Citizen for 19 years and author of Capital Dining, the definitive guide to dining in the Ottawa area; James Chatto (Toronto), restaurant critic for over 25 years, editor of Harry Magazine and National Culinary Advisor for Gold Medal Plates and the Canadian Culinary Championships; Christine Hanlon (Winnipeg), has written about food and culture for Style Manitoba, Western Living and Fodor’s Canada; CJ Katz (Saskatoon/Regina), culinary host of CTV’s Wheatland Café, restaurant writer for the Regina Leader-Post, publisher of Savour Life Magazine and author of the newly released TASTE: Seasonal Dishes from the Prairie Table; Mary Bailey (Edmonton), publisher of The Tomato Food & Drink, certified sommelier and wine instructor Art Institute of Vancouver, and co-author of two National Best-Sellers on Alberta food; John Gilchrist (Calgary): CBC Radio restaurant critic for 32 years, restaurant writer for The Calgary Herald, author of ten National Best-Sellers on dining in the Calgary-Banff area, and instructor of food and culture programs at the U of C; and little old me here in Vancouver.
Nearly every single one of the contributing critics is a Senior Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships (I included a shot of the complete judging panel above). Putting an app out that represented the best of our respective cities just seemed a very natural thing to do. Hat’s off to my friend and colleague John Gilchrist for putting this together with Jeremy Gale of Calgary’s Force Grind Inc.. A lot of work went into the app, and it’s something that we’re all exceptionally proud of.
So if you have a foodie to shop for this Christmas, get clicking!
by Andrew Morrison | Over the weekend I met up with two of the Giannakos brothers (George and Chris) next door to their cafe, Revolver Coffee, at 325 Cambie. They’ve taken possession of the space that used to be Pennyblack (a tattoo parlour) and aim to use it as a retail shop over the holiday season. So if one of your loved ones digs the art of the perfect cup of coffee, pencil this place in as an essential browse. It will open up at some point later this week.
Once the New Year kicks in, they are going to completely renovate the space and connect it to Revolver in order to give the always packed coffee house twice as many seats and more retail stuff. Word is they’re talking to Craig Stanghetta to reprise his role as designer. Expect the finished expansion to open its doors to the public in the early Spring.
(via) The world’s dumbest spirit just got a little dumber thanks to the London office of brand wizards Wieden & Kennedy. They’ve turned Poland’s Maximus vodka into a vodka for men with a “Rise & Conquer” tagline and a “my penis is bigger than yours” ad campaign. And all the 2:15am fights on Granville St. just got a little more sad…
This is the fifth episode in a six part series from Animal New York that features the off-duty exploits of chef Jeffrey Ryan Creager (of The Beagle) and barman Jan Warren (of Dutch Kills). This time, the pair takes bourbon cocktails to go from home base in Queens and then heads over to the Kebab House for some Egyptian-style lamb testicles, heart and brain. Because of course. People gotta eat. View episode 1 here, episode 2 there, and episode 3 where, and episode 4 cher.