by Andrew Morrison | The new Chambar opened this morning, right next door from the original. Scout broke the news of the award-winning Belgian-Moroccan restaurant’s expansion plans after the location was secured a year ago. We’ve been tracking its construction ever since.
Today was opening day, and the first time the previously evenings-only restaurant had ever served breakfast and lunch. Many of the dishes on offer this morning had transitioned into the new Chambar line-up from a menu made famous at the original location of Cafe Medina (eg. the short rib fricassee, Belgian waffles, etc.) before it moved to its new location on Richards Street last week. The old Medina, you’ll recall, used to be next door to the old Chambar.
Confused? It’s actually not as complicated as it seems.
The short story is that the owners of Chambar (Karri & Nico Schuermans) launched Cafe Medina with a business partner (Robbie Kane) seven years ago. When Chambar announced its plans last year to expand next door with a brunch/lunch service featuring chef Nico’s original dishes designed for Cafe Medina, a future with the two eateries existing side by side and competing against one another with the same dishes was plainly undesirable. The solution was a cordial split between the partners and several city blocks of distance between their respective new restaurants.
The new Chambar, as you can see from the shots above and below, has clearly maintained the soothing, casual aesthetic of the original, and yet is has grown considerably in size, both in seating and production capacities (the new kitchen is massive). It has also gained a patio, which will no doubt be considered one of the better ones in the city before summer’s end.
The quality of the food and drink, in my mind at least, is something of a given. I have no doubts about the kitchen or bar staff. The big question for most people will be this: “Does it feel like the original?” And it’s a fair question to ask, because in addition to the great drinks and delicious food, Chambar tabled a tangible soul — which is a rare thing in the restaurant business. The spirit of the eatery was one of the original location’s best qualities, not to mention a probable cause of the storied Chambar Effect. To date, I’ve only broken bread once at the new address, but I think the answer to that question is a big yes. Chambar remains Chambar, all day and well into the night.
by Luis Valdizon | There’s only one day left to discover Lara Kozan and Tori Holmes’ Nectar Juicery pop-up inside the Holt Renfrew skybridge. Their juices are made from 100% organic fruits and vegetables, and sell for $10 a bottle. Take a look…
Ends August 16 | Holt Renfrew Skybridge at Pacific Centre (737 Dunsmuir) | nectarjuicery.com
The GOODS from Cavalier
Vancouver, BC | To mark their one year anniversary, Cavalier: The Fine Jewellery Shoppe is launching the inaugural Cavalier Cup, an outdoor hockey tournament at Sunset Beach, on Saturday, August 16th. Proceeds from this annual event will benefit and raise awareness for ALS BC.
Along with great food and beverages, spectators will enjoy a high level of talent on display—this won’t be some beer league pick-up tournament. In addition to being successful entrepreneurs, Cavalier co-owners Dane Stevens and Keith Seabrook are both professional athletes. Bragging rights aside, the winning team will take home $5,000 in prizes, which is sure to make the tournament a highly spirited affair.
“Sports are a great way to bring the community together for an important cause. With my background in professional hockey and Dane’s in lacrosse, organizing this tournament made perfect sense as a way to help raise money for ALS BC,” says Keith Seabrook, a 2006 second round draft pick of the Washington Capitals. Read more
The old location of Chambar shuttered this past Saturday in anticipation of the big move to the new address next door. While the restaurant is on this pergatorial dark side of the moon, they’ll be hosting a ”fire sale” this Wednesday, August 13th. Goods on the block will include furniture, decor, miscellaneous kitchen equipment, plates, glassware, and Micros POS terminals/printers. It’s a cash only affair, with doors opening at 562 Beatty Street at 11am. If you have great memories of the original Chambar, this is you big chance to take a piece of it home. See you there!
With the highly anticipated opening of the new Cafe Medina set for this Tuesday at 780 Richards Street, the restaurant’s kitchen crew and front of house team took Saturday to get in some practice with friends and family. The special “dry run” service saw delivery of chef Jonathan Chovancek’s new menu and our first look at the new interior by designer Brian Kane. Take a look below…
The GOODS from Cafe Medina
Vancouver BC | Next Tuesday, August 12 marks a new beginning for Café Medina when the beloved Vancouver brunch and lunch restaurant opens the doors to a bright, spacious and refurbished location at 780 Richards Street (at Robson Street).
While the change of scenery brings many refinements to Café Medina — increased seating capacity, high ceilings, a proper bar and an open kitchen layout among them — Owner Robbie Kane has gone to great lengths to migrate and preserve the same subtle touches that have helped make the café a veritable Vancouver institution since it first opened in 2008.
Café Medina will close the doors of its former location at 556 Beatty Street after service on Sunday, August 10 before holding the inaugural service in its new home on Tuesday, August 12.
Further details, including Executive Chef Jonathan Chovancek’s exciting new menu — a mix of Café Medina’s trademark Mediterranean-inspired dishes alongside fresh new seasonal creations — will be revealed on opening day.
The GOODS from Cavalier
Vancouver, BC | August is here and so is the new Foe and Dear collection exclusive to Cavalier. The birthstone for August is the vibrant green gemstone peridot, which also happens to be the gift for 15th wedding anniversaries. Using gemstones sourced by owners Dane and Keith, designer Katherine Huie has made a collection of rings, necklaces and earrings just for the shop. Each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind using rough peridot gemstones and complemented beautifully with 14K gold fill settings. Foe and Dear jewellery is a collection of delicate, handmade, one of a kind pieces made with love from start to finish by designer Katherine Huie. Unique and exotic materials ranging from brass, to 14K gold, to precious stones makes Foe and Dear a blend of mystery and romance, reminiscent of stories both whimsical and dark. As part of Cavalier’s initiative to support the community, 5% of all Foe and Dear sales are donated to The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Learn more about Cavalier after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Market by Jean-Georges
Vancouver, BC | MARKET by Jean-Georges is embracing the recent changes to B.C.’s liquor legislation with the introduction of ‘Rush Hour’ featuring a tantalizing menu of daily appetizer and cocktail specials. ‘Rush Hour’ will be kicking off on August 7 and will be available throughout the year between 4:00 and 6:00 pm in the MARKET bar and outdoor terrace. The first round of specials will offer the following:
Monday – Vodka and Gin Martini $7, ?Chicken Wings, Black Pepper Glaze $10
Tuesday – Ginger Margarita $7, Crispy Short Rib Taco with Chipotle Mayo and Lime $8
Wednesday – ? Rosé $7, Popcorn Shrimp with Ranch and Herbs $10
Thursday – Grapefruit Gimlet $7, Chef’s Pizza Creation $10
Friday – Hugo $7, MARKET Root Chips & Dip served with housemade Ranch and Sriracha Dip $5
A favourite hangout for locals and visitors alike, the alluring MARKET bar features high-polished recycled aluminum high-top chairs, Asian-inspired banquettes, white-marble cocktail tables and olive leather and dark wood chairs. The spacious outdoor terrace is an oasis overlooking the bustling city below, and the perfect place to end a busy day. Read more
The GOODS from Chambar
Vancouver, BC | The award-winning Chambar restaurant is looking to add one more line cook to its team before opening in the new Beatty St. location (next door to the original). All interested parties with experience should contact Sous Chef Alex Ploughman with their resumes in confidence via alex [at] chambar.com. Learn more about the new location here. Read more
The GOODS from The Cinematheque
Vancouver, BC | Out-of-luck dupes. Double-crossing dames. Crime, corruption, and the sweltering heat. The Cinematheque’s most popular (and nihilistic) summer series, Film Noir, is back! For the month of August, a dozen dark, delirious gems from noir’s hard-boiled heyday (early 1940s to the late 1950s) will be onscreen, including new restorations of must-see essentials (Double Indemnity, The Lady from Shanghai, and Gun Crazy), rare forays into lurid colour (Niagara, House of Bamboo, and Leave Her to Heaven), and a long-weekend triple bill with icons Bogie (The Maltese Falcon), Stanwyck (Double Indemnity), and Crawford (Mildred Pierce). Step out of the sun and into the shadows this summer with one of the richest, most influential periods in American cinema. Opens Friday, August 1st with Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, and a cash bar! Read more
The GOODS from Hawksworth
Vancouver, BC | Hawksworth Restaurant is currently seeking a hard working and passionate individual for a Chef de Partie position. A minimum of 2+ years of fine dining kitchen experience is required. This position is for either AM or PM, depending on experience. It will suit someone with a desire to grow and learn in a fast-paced and dynamic work environment. Please respond to kh [at] hawksworthrestaurant.com with a cover letter (detailing why you would be the right fit for the position) and a resume outlining your experience. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | We broke the news of Chambar’s coming expansion back in October. The Belgian-Moroccan eatery – one of my personal favourites since it opened 10 years ago on Beatty Street – is only moving next door…
The new restaurant will be roughly twice the size of the current one, with about 270 seats between two levels, a 50 seat patio, and private rooms that can fit 20 – 80 people. There are lots of opportunities for new design motifs to fit in with the old, but I suspect it will look very similar to the original. Yes, in addition to the branding, relaxed vibe, deep drinks programs, and casual flirtations with fine dining, much of its furniture will also be making the move, which is great news because who doesn’t love the original tables, couches, banquettes and button-ed up red booths? ”The layout will be just like the old Chambar,” Karri explains, pointing out how the front will be the lounge and bar area that narrows at the waist to open up into a dining room. “The new place has brick and beams, too,” she adds, referring to the core aesthetic of the original. One big change is that the wall that divides the patio from the interior will be glass (said patio will also have its all-day sunshine filtered by young trees – sounds awesome). Also making the move will be the staff, though they’ll definitely be needing to hire a lot more people considering the breadth of their expansion.
30 more people, to be exact. They’ll need them, too, as the place is huge. I went on a tour with co-owner Karri Schuermans today and while it was clear that they still have a ways to go if they’re to meet their revised target opening date of the first week of August, most of what’s left to do is cosmetic. Most of the heavy lifting appeared to be done. As you can see from the shots below, it does resemble the layout of the original Chambar. The only obvious departures are the sprawling patio (which I expect will be pretty magical), the stairs that lead down to the massive kitchens and private room, the rooftop deck for further private functions (killer views from up there), the sound proofing at the entrance to the rear dining room, and the introduction of a new colour to the Chambar fold: a tealish green (evidenced on the wall section by the door and wave-like panel that spills across the ceiling above the bar).
Owner/chef Nico Schuermans menus are also taking shape. He’ll be keeping plenty of the Cafe Medina (also moving) originals – which he developed in the first place – for breakfast service (fricassee, etc), while lunch and dinner will see classic mainstays like the lamb tagine and the moules frites joined by about 20 small plates, which are still in development. I don’t know how they could possibly improve on the drinks side of things, but they’re aiming to make life easier for the bar staff. The 22 seat bar is purpose-built for ease and efficiency (wells and rails galore), and the wines are going to be laid resplendent on racks inside a great big temperature-controlled walk-in box of glass just off the dining room. It all looks fantastic, and it’s incredibly comforting that they’re a known entity with a pretty kickass track record of doing good things. I mean, what’s not to love about this move? Chambar + patio? Yes, please! Chambar + breakfast? Absolutely! Chambar + roof? Let’s go!
by Stevie Wilson | It is recognized as one of Vancouver’s most popular music venues and the longest continuously occupied space of its kind, but there’s much more to the Railway Club at 579 Dunsmuir than the occasional anecdote about The Tragically Hip. With over 80 years of history behind it, the space is yet another product of the inextricable link between Vancouver and its busy rail lines. The club, established in 1932 (at midnight on New Year’s Eve, to be exact) was originally a members-only space for the CPR’s staff to unwind, and was allegedly opened in response to the exclusivity of the nearby Engineers Club. Following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, The Railwaymen’s Club (as it was then known) operated as a busy, beer-stained and smoke-filled poker bar for the city’s thirsty working class.
The slim Laursen Building (also registered as Lawsen) dates back to around 1926, and has since featured many small businesses both upstairs and down. Prior to the Railwaymen’s Club, the top floor belonged to the European Concert Cafe, where one can only imagine what sort of fun was had. Over the years the space fell into significant disrepair until the Forsyth family purchased the bar in 1981. None of the contemporary furnishings are original, save for the fenestration and radiators; everything had to be constructed for a new crowd of patrons. Behind the main bar a set of beautiful stained glass windows are nearly hidden by a wide variety of signs and stuff to stare at over a pint.
Another surprising element of the Railway is its cozy back-end bar. While it blends seamlessly with the dark wooden decor of the front space, this room used to be the H. Miles Jewellery Store, which the Forsyths took over in 1988. The beautiful oak back bar was purchased from the storied West End gay bar Buddy’s when it closed its doors in the same year.
So whether it’s for a drink, a show, or to watch its charming toy trains circle the ceiling, just soaking up an hour at this local landmark means soaking up some uniquely local history, too. Indeed, in a city where restaurant and bar interiors seldom last as long as they really should, it’s an uncommon environment worthy of your thirsty investigation. Photos after the jump… Read more
by Stevie Wilson & Andrew Morrison | The Sun Tower at the corner of West Pender and Beatty Streets is one of Vancouver’s most recognizable landmarks, particularly due to its eye-catching, mint-coloured dome that’s visible from nearly everywhere in the city. However, despite the building’s iconic status (and its magnetic tourist’s photography), it’s not too often that hear from anyone who’s actually been inside the dome or, better still, atop the cupola, so we decided to take a look.
Keep in mind that it wasn’t easy. The dome is impossible to gain access to if you don’t have the building managers on your side. It took plenty of correspondence and explanation of benign intent on Scout’s part to convince the keymasters that we were there by virtue of sincere curiosity and true affection for the building’s architecture and history. In the end, our foot in the door came last month when Scout was invited to a Vancouver Heritage Foundation event. One thing (begging) led to another (pleading), and eventually a tour was arranged in good humour, for which we will remain eternally grateful. Take a look…
To gain access to the dome, one most first get to the 17th floor, up a winding staircase made of marble and through a locked door. The interior is a bit of a shock at first. There are no frescoes, sculptured metopes or decorative flourishes of any kind at all, which is a truth that came rudely, really, as one half expects the gorgeous thing to be filled to the knees with treasure. But it’s completely bare and unadorned save for spidery support beams in yellow painted steel that have been bolted above a noisy blue machine that operates the building’s elevators. It was all very industrial, which is to say a little deflating of the imagination.
And yet it clearly wasn’t without beauty. The dome is lit by a ring of oculi (the fancy name for circular windows). These look over the city from the cardinal points, and gazing out of them was a real trip. Though the buildings that surround it are mostly new (especially to the west and south), the windows – recessed and antique as they are – soften their glaring modernity like a Hipstamatic filter. But the real view is up even higher. A sketchy, steel-framed platform leads to a ladder that rises to a trap door in the ceiling. Once unbolted, this leads to the cupola, or the open-air nipple that stands erect at the dome’s apex. Here, the building’s big fib is revealed. The green-tinge on the dome’s exterior isn’t real. It’s a faux patina design that’s been painted to mimic oxidized copper. Alas, the view – so raw and exposed – more than makes up for it.
The history of the Beaux-Arts building is readily found and filled with fantastic details, but here’s a brief run-down: Noted Canadian architect William Tuff Whiteway (of Woodwards fame) was commissioned to design the structure in 1911-12 by the now-infamous Vancouver mayor L.D. Taylor. It began as the offices for Taylor’s newspaper company, The Vancouver World, before the publication folded and the building was passed to Bekin’s, the Seattle-based storage and moving company. At the time of its completion, the building was recognized as the tallest (commercial) structure in the British Empire – a distinction that previously belonged to the nearby Dominion Building. In 1937, the Vancouver Sun took over the building, renamed it, installed a massive red neon sign across the top, and continued operations until 1965 when it relocated to 2250 Granville Street.
Unlike the exterior of the tower – which still features Charles Marega’s controversial “nine maidens” perched at the 8th floor, bare breasts and all – the interior has changed much over the years. In 2011 it was redeveloped by Allied Properties as creative spaces, though several historic features are still on display on the top floors, including tile work, marble staircases, single-paned fenestration, radiators, and beautiful door handles. Inside and out, there’s no other building like it. Take a look…