We’ve invited Gastown charmer Notturno to join the Restaurant section of our GOODS program as a great place for a bite and a glass. They are now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be sharing their news and employment needs on our front page in addition to hosting a page for them in our archive of local and independent goodness. We would like to thank them for their support and for making Vancouver a more entertaining and delicious place to be.
The GOODS from L’Abattoir
Vancouver, BC | L’Abattoir is hiring for its front of house team. The service position starts at 2-3 shifts per week without any “I can’t work on Sundays cause I watch football” restrictions. The successful applicant will have a minimum of 5 years fine dining experience with appropriate wine and food knowledge. Apply to paul [at] labattoir.ca. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more
(via) You know how when it’s sunny there are a million things to do and everyone is super excited about all of them, but when it’s raining nobody gives a damn about anything and they just want to go home and sulk until the sun comes out again? It would be nice – cool, even – if we had reasons to look forward to the rain. Not for our gardens, slip-and-slides, or Fred Astaire fetishes, but rather to appreciate some public pieces of art that were only visible in the wet.
Such is the case on an old building’s brick wall in Hartford, Connecticut, where artist Adam Niklewicz created a 30ft x 45ft “Charter Oak” tree – a symbol of American independence – using sealant, stencils, and graphite transfers. According to Niklewicz, “Public art should embrace the existing environment and work to enrich reality.” We couldn’t agree more.
While it’s true that Vancouver doesn’t have the deep well of historical context to draw from that Hartford does, I’m sure we could come up with a few ideas for similar wall treatments. How about the iconic maple tree that Vancouver’s early settlers used to meet under to seek shade, shelter, and gossip? It was located in Maple Tree Square (the heart of Gastown), right where the statue of Gassy Jack Deighton stands today. I’d like to see it again, wouldn’t you?
by Andrew Morrison | Is there room for another interesting restaurant in Gastown? Absolutely. A lot of people fear a future of fewer original restaurants in the neighbourhood (increased Donnellization, chains moving in, etc), so I think it’s only natural to imagine interesting newcomers as sandbags against the slow trickle of ubiquity.
And I think “interesting” is a bit of an understatement when it comes to Gastown’s next new eatery. It starts with the name: The Blacktail Florist. It’s a masculine/feminine compound; “blacktail” being a reference to the indigenous west coast sub-species of mule deer, and “florist” because the restaurant will be loaded with floral installations “arranged” for our enjoyment. I like it because it almost refuses to make sense, like a big “fuck you” to every ill-imagined “kitchen restobar + public house” that has been cruelly unleashed upon our streets in recent years. Of course it’s not as good as the working name that Wildebeest had before it became Wildebeest (“J&J’s House of Bad Decisions”), but its seeming arbitrariness is still pretty awesome. Plus I dig the simple, stark branding by Glasfurd & Walker:
The Blacktail Florist is located in the same spot as the old HousexGuest at 322 Water Street (previously So.cial at Le Magasin, McLean’s). I expressed my doubts about HousexGuest before it even opened back in October 2011, and wasn’t surprised to hear about its closure.
I have no doubts about The Blacktail Florist. It’s chef/co-owner is Jimmy Stewart, a first-timer journeyman-lifer who dropped out of cooking school to spend nine years working his way up the ranks at Beachside, CinCin, Lumiere, Maze and The Ledbury in London, DB Bistro, and Bearfoot Bistro. His last (and first executive chef) job, ironically, was at HousexGuest. Though I heard excellent things about his food, it was already too late for the restaurant.
But it’s not Stewart’s pedigree that convinced me that I’m going to like The Blacktail Florist. Nor is it my fondness for the actor of the same name. It’s that he’s so quietly smart and so nerdishly dedicated to his craft. I don’t think the 26 year old is going to get much sleep between now and this weekend, when he will serve his Scandinavia-inflected West Coast micro-seasonal fare to friends and family for the first time (the restaurant opens to the public next Wednesday, April 2nd). He’s wound up and ready to go, and his menu, which you can enlarge by clicking below, reads something wicked…
But it’s the room, too. I love the room. The dining areas seat 80 people, including 16 chairs at a gorgeous communal one piece facing the 12 seat bar. There are big booths throughout, and warm, neutral wood – lots of the stuff. And the windows! The original geometric/deco 3-D windows used to be painted black in the HousexGuest days, but now they’re focal points, with each vitrine within showcasing colourful flower arrangements. The overall design is by Craig Stanghetta (interview), who has a proven ability to modernize old spaces without insulting their antiquity (eg. Revolver). To wit, the original mosaic floor – filled with concrete in its broken spots – snakes like an ancient waterway through the bright dining room, and the original pressed tin ceiling panels are still there, shining bright in white above some very attractive light installations by local firm Good Animal (see also Pidgin, Homer Street).
The bar program is very small and run by Connor Gotowiec, fresh from the Union Bar in Strathcona/Chinatown. There will only be four original cocktails (kitchen driven with local ingredients), but the bar is fully stocked so tipplers can order their Aviations and Old Fashioneds as they please. Wine is the province of GM/Sommelier Adam Mayhew, who has come down from Bearfoot Bistro to join his old co-worker Stewart. And if you see Chen-Wei Lee of Bao Bei, Wildebeest, and Winner Winner fame working the floor, that’s because he’s come on as the operations manager.
The team looks especially solid, which is another reason why I think The Blacktail Florist is going to kill it next week and for long beyond. Take a closer look below…
If you’re in the restaurant trade it’s time to sign up and tryout to be a contender for Restaurant Rumble 2014. All interested would-be pugilists are invited to go to the Aprons For Gloves website and register now. “Contender Sign Up” closes April 11th so get on it now. Tryouts will be held on Saturday April 12 + Sunday April 13 at Action Boxing, 769 East Hastings Street. You must complete the contender forms, waivers and get the medical form signed by a doctor. Bring your signed documents and your $200 deposit with you to tryouts in order to participate. Sorry, no exceptions!
We’ve invited Gastown’s excellent Pony Salon to join the Style & Retail section of our GOODS program as a recommended place to get your lid properly sorted. They are now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be posting their news in addition to hosting a page for them on our curated list of independent goodness. We would like to thank them for their support and for making BC a better looking place to be.
280 Carrall Street | Vancouver, BC
Telephone: 604-720-3145 | Email: info [at] notturnogastown.ca
Web: www.notturnogastown.ca | Twitter: @notturnogastown
Hours: Open Tuesday to Saturday: 6 p.m. to late | No reservations
Chef/Co-owner – William Robitaille
Bartender – H
Co-owner – Scott McTavish
Wine Consultant – Chris Royal
A Gastown Italian bàcari with an ever-changing selection of cicchetti share plates, craft cocktails, wines by the glass and BC-brewed craft beers, Notturno has something for everyone.
Chef and co-owner William Robitaille has designed Italian-inspired fare with a focus on seasonal, market-fresh products. Industry trained in the West Coast style with Italian and Spanish influences, Robitaille has worked in some of the finest restaurants in Vancouver and Whistler where he developed new and exciting menus. Wine consultant Chris Royal has curated a wine program that expertly complements the food menu.
Known around the world simply as “H”, Notturno’s craft cocktail maker and Vancouver Magazine’s Bartender of the Year for 2013, designed our signature cocktail Gli Felice. This along with H’s five monthly creations is sure to please every taste. Like our menu, our space delivers an eclectic combination of historic and modern.
The new look by Andrea Rodman Interiors is designed to combine the rustic look synonymous with the surrounding Gastown neighbourhood and modern detailing. Master woodworkers Josh Hooge and Steve McFarlane of J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture have created a new feature wall and bar counter.
Eater Magazine – Vancouver Heat Map | This tiny bar and restaurant tucked away on Carrall has cocktail fans thoroughly over-excited thanks to bartender H’s creative concoctions – impressively, William Robitaille’s Italian tapas even delighted notoriously hard-to-please Globe & Mail critic Alexandra Gill.
Alexandra Gill, Globe and Mail | Notturno’s signature Gli Felice is, as advertised, “a taste of Tuscany in a glass.” I happily say to you that of all the tiny tapas-style wine bars in Gastown, Notturno hits higher than most.
Vancouver Magazine | Don’t miss chef’s succulent Venetian ling cod, which is poached and whipped with olive oil while warm, then served with salty pops of steelhead roe [...] “H” (Vancouver magazine’s 2013 Bartender of the Year) mixes exacting craft cocktails with bitter-predominant Italian flair.
The GOODS from The Portside
Vancouver, BC | The Portside Pub, located at 7 Alexander in Gastown, is looking to fill positions in every aspect to facilitate the launch of their brand new maritime-influenced menu and their extension of hours. Think you’re up for it? If you are, you have a minimum of 5 years experience in bars/restaurants, you must be friendly beyond belief, self motivated, organized and ready to hustle. Craft beer knowledge is a definite asset that we’ll be looking for. If you feel like you’d be a good fit, send your resume to info[at]theportsidepub.com. Learn more about The Portside Pub after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Wildebeest
Vancouver, BC | On Wednesday, March 26th at 6:30pm Wildebeest celebrates the special release of several new craft beers from Four Winds Brewing Co. with a five-course menu created by Chef Wesley Young. A local favourite, Four Winds Brewing Co. is known for using a combination of new world and old world methods to produce flavourful West Coast, Belgian and German style beers. With representatives from Four Winds Brewing Co. in attendance, guests have an exclusive first look into the brewery’s freshest additions, and feast on innovative, seasonally inspired dishes crafted in harmony with each new brew.
Tickets for this event are limited and on sale for $69 each, which includes a five-course dinner and Four Winds Brewing Co. craft beer pairings. Reservations can be made by contacting email@example.com or for more information visit us on facebook. Menu and details after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from The Irish Heather
Vancouver, BC | 2014 will mark the 18th celebration of Ireland’s patron saint since The Irish Heather opened on March 14, 1997. Over the years they’ve had some crazy, out of control St. Patrick’s Days packed to the rafters with locals and whoever famous happened to be in town (from U2 to Sean Penn and everybody in-between). Being the only Irish-owned establishment in Vancouver means that they’re in high demand. The distinct absence of green beer helps, too! Get all of the details about this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations from owner Sean Heather after the jump… Read more
by Luis Valdizon | Tom Dixon inconspicuously entered the design world as an art school drop-out in the 1980′s while trying to repair his post-accident motorcycle with no technical training. His works have since been collected by some of the world’s most top museums, including the London’s V&A, New York’s MoMa and Paris’ Pompidou. Just two months ago he was the recipient of the prestigious Maison et Objet Designer of the Year award. I was fortunate enough to chat with Mr. Dixon on the last stop of his North American lecture tour. The evening, hosted by Gastown’s Inform Interiors on March 3rd, was lively and tightly packed by a handsome crowd of design enthusiasts. What follows is the transcript of my conversation with Dixon and a gallery of photos from the evening.
Can you share some details surrounding the night in Milan when you slept on a public park bench, which resulted in the inspiration for your first season with Adidas?
It was my first visit to the furniture fair. I thought that I would be able to find cheap accommodation quickly and that just wasn’t the case. I had no idea of the scale of the fair. Sleeping on the park bench is not something that I can recommend. It’s never comfortable and the temperatures drop substantially in Milan. It wasn’t a great experience. I’m just hoping not to do it again without my own sleeping bag.
I think it’s funny that these sort of things still happen in Milan. Only two years ago there was the Icelandic volcano eruption and everything stopped. There were about a couple hundred-thousand people stuck in Milan and very quickly they didn’t have hotel rooms or residences. For the benefit of my own interests, it could easily happen again, so it’s better to be prepared.
Your release with Adidas has an unmistakable editorial presence in its packaging and presentation. What inspired this?
There’s no point in me trying to be a fashion designer. It’s not what these collaborations are about. What it is for me is sort of entering a new universe without any preconception. There’s a lot of fashion that’s very poorly explained compared to product design. It’s not very normal to give a lot of information on the packaging. I wanted to bring my experience in other trades to the fashion business rather than become a fashion designer. The graphic sensibility and the information on the pack is really about trying to communicate a bit more in a way that they don’t in the fashion business. I get very frustrated, for instance, when I go to a museum or an art gallery and I see this amazing stuff and I want to know more and they don’t tell you. I try my best to reinvent those trades in a way that best suits me. The collection addresses my inability to pack efficiently; so, it’s a personal problem. I think I design with myself as the customer in mind rather than try to be like a proper designer that should be solving problems for other people. I’m a-typical like that.
You shared an idea of being “a proper modernist” for the first time through your collaboration with Adidas. What did you mean by that?
Modernist? Did I say that? I think the advantage with massive companies that are experts in what they do is that they have access to many more resources, and everybody wants to work with them. It’s an opportunity to work with futuristic textiles and new manufacturing techniques. They are cutting edges in their respective trades in ways you’d never get the chance to if you were doing it in a conventional manner.
Can you speak on the role of mathematics in your design?
I went to a very bad school in the 70s where there was a lot of experiments in education going on. There wasn’t a great deal of discipline. There was very bad teaching, and I found the whole thing very frustrating. However, there was one short-lived period that I had a really great math teacher and it opened up this tiny little window in this other magical world which I’ve never been able to access since. There’s something about the beauty in everything matching up and everything being logical that I’m still inclined to seek. There’s something quite nice about geometry because it is perfect. It appeals to everybody. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Muslim and like Islamic art, or whether you’re a scientist interested in DNA, or if you’re a child building Lego; geometry is always there. It’s underpins everything that’s constantly around us. There’s something rather fascinating to a designer about that, and if you do use geometry in your work it you often find that it appeals to other people as well.
You blur the line between the artist and the entrepreneur with little very backlash in comparison to, say, Damien Hirst. Why do you think that is?
Because he’s much richer than I am (laughs). I’m sure the backlash will come when I get really, really rich. For me, what was kind of nice about commerce – and I think that too few designers are interested in the kind of trading aspect of it – is that it’s what has allowed me to become a designer. The fact that I could think of an idea and the people would spend their hard earned cash on buying it off me seems like such a perfect way to make a living, right? It’s like alchemy, where you can turn something into gold. It’s not like I’m a super successful business man. I really like the idea that I’ve created a platform to have an idea and if that idea is good enough people will just buy it. It’s a great way to live.
What is your first memory of an encounter with an object that influenced your design aesthetic today?
I went to an exhibition at the V&A museum in London and I saw a video of an Alvar Aalto stool being made. It was plywood…pressed plywood with the glue oozing out. And it was that that sort of sparked something. I’ve always been more interested in the manufacturing rather than the actual objects. I don’t think it was the design objects that appealed to me. What appealed to me was the manufacturing process, so when I found welding and I learned how to weld then suddenly this whole world where one could create structures very quickly and very easily became apparent to me.
Did you grow up in a design-minded home?
My parents were design aware but they weren’t designers. One was a teacher and one was a BBC newscaster so they weren’t really involved with anything to do with design. Now that I think about it – and even your last question – it was a pottery teacher at my old school. The school was not exactly academic. It was a big school, but it had the luck of having a proper ceramics department and also life drawing class, which is quite rare in secondary schools. The combination of enjoying drawing and actually getting my hands stuck into the wet clay and turning pots and such was really the moment the form-giving and the practical element of design really got me interested.
You’ve talked about having a “child-like enthusiasm” in your design philosophy. How has your relationship with your children or experience as a parent influenced you?
Funny enough, my kids are even more conservative than me. I spend a lot of time trying to get them to try to be more child-like and they constantly try to get me to be more conventional. They’d really like to have a trad [traditional] Dad. That’s what they want they want, a trad Dad, not a crazy Dad. I guess it’s kind of role reversal in a way.
Despite two accidents, one of which ended your music career, I hear that you still ride bikes?
Yes, it’s pretty much a daily occupation. We’ve had a rough winter so I put them away. I’m a bit more fair-weathered now. By the time I get back, the spring will have started and I’ll get moving again. Fact is that in London traffic is so bad and the city is so big that honestly it’s the only way of getting on in your day.
With your latest venture into scents and now again with music, your design seems to want to cover all the human senses…
The beauty of music is that it allows you to communicate with people without using language. Previously when I was doing it in the beginning; that was my job. You had to go around with eight sweaty boys in a transit band and tour the country, but now I can do it for fun. Music really is superior fun.
The GOODS from Wildebeest
Vancouver, BC | Wildebeest is looking to hire an experienced leader to manage weekend brunches. The ideal applicant has local experience in brunch/breakfast service and is available to begin this month. Hours would be 9am to 4pm with competitive compensation and a benefits plan. Please note that this is a part-time position, limited – for the time being – to weekend brunches only. It would be well suited to an individual looking for supplemental employment in a progressive, delicious restaurant. Please email resume and cover letter in confidence to eat [at] wildebeest.ca. Read more
by Shaun Layton | When most of the people I know are asked if they like bourbon and Champagne, I know that their answer is going to include a mention of the Seelbach cocktail. The legendary Kentucky hotel that gave the drink its name has a special place in my heart. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the historic beauty a few times in the past, one of which was with Scout’s editor and some fellow barkeeps four years ago (watch the evidenceo). My head nearly exploded when I first saw the selection of American rye and bourbon inside the main floor bar!
The hotel itself is a lot more famous than the cocktail. The Seelbach was opened in 1905 by brothers Otto and Louis Seelbach. They had a vision of old world European hotels, importing materials from all over; marbles from France, linens from Ireland, and rugs from Turkey. The hotel sits on Muhammad Ali Way, about a block from the museum honouring the pugilist hero from Louisville.
Many notables frequented the hotel, including American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. He adored the place, not to mention its bourbon and selection of cigars. His experiences and run-ins with prohibition bootleggers like Cincinnati mobster George Remus inspired characters and scenes for his masterpiece, “The Great Gatsby”.
The Seelbach has a network of hidden tunnels and rooms, and it was a major hangout for Al Capone and his crew during Prohibition. A cool story on the hotel’s website claims Capone had a large mirror from Chicago sent in so he could watch his back during high stakes poker games.
Until 1995, when a hotel manager rediscovered the recipe, The Seelbach cocktail was all but forgotten. It was created in 1917, and lost some time during Prohibition. The hotel was reluctant to release the recipe until bar legend Gary Regan convinced them to let him publish it in his book, New Classic Cocktails.
1 oz Bourbon (I use Buffalo Trace)
1/2 oz Triple Sec (I use Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao)
7 Dashes Angostura Bitters
7 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
5 oz Champagne
orange twist garnish
Method | Briefly chill the first four ingredients by stirring on ice, add to a chilled champagne flute, top with Champagne (or a dry sparkling wine), garnish with an orange twist.
The recipe doesn’t call for chilling the ingredients, but I think this is necessary for a cold and balanced cocktail. I really enjoy serving this as a “gateway” cocktail for drinkers who claim they don’t like bourbon. It works like a charm every time. Don’t be alarmed (as I first was) at the amount of bitters; somehow everything magically comes together. Although Peychaud’s can be hard to find, there is no substitute (Bitter Truth Creole is close), so get some while travelling in the US or at The Modern Bartender in Chinatown.